Contractor Safety and Monitoring

Industry Matters Newsletter
Ken Fivizzani
Ken Fivizzani

Contractors are employees of an outside company who are hired to do a specific project or task. How much safety training have they received? Will there be a supervisor on site all the time? What is the turnover rate for this company? Which of your employees is responsible for monitoring these contractors? Your organization should determine what safety training is needed for contractors. Start with the safety training required of your permanent employees.

Training should focus on typical work conditions in a laboratory or plant. Eliminate topics that are not essential to the safety of the contractors. Suggested topics in the next four paragraphs are presented as short statements of policy and procedures that would be explained to the contractor and as questions that the contractor would be expected to answer after safety training. 

Contractor Safety Basics:  What PPE is required (safety glasses, hardhats)? No shorts or open-toed shoes. No eating, drinking, or smoking. Know multiple exits from the work area. Who should you talk to if there is a problem? Do not lean against any item or sit anywhere other than a chair or other surface designed for seating. Do not touch anything that is not part of your job. If you spill something or disturb some equipment, whom should you notify? Do you know how to operate an eyewash and a safety shower?

Appropriate Hazard Warnings: Will you be working near large amounts of hazardous materials? Are there any machines with moving parts that will be on while you are working? Are there any areas with loud noise?

Emergency Response: How does the organization notify people about an emergency condition (alarm sound, flashing lights, public address announcement)? Where are the fire alarms? Where do you go if you must leave the work area? If you can do so safely and quickly, turn off your equipment. How do you get help in an emergency?    

Other Concerns: What safety training have you received from your employer? Do you speak and read the local language? If not, who can help you communicate on a daily basis on this job? Have you worked on this job since it began?

If a project is scheduled to be done by contractors outside of normal work hours, then monitoring may require additional assistance from security or facility management personnel. The assistance of local staff may also be required for hot work, lockout/tagout, or confined space procedures.

Reference: For an extensive discussion of management of contractor and visitor safety, see Chapter 7 of Handbook of Chemical Health and Safety, R.J. Alaimo, Editor, Oxford University Press, New York, 2001, pages 32-38. This book can be purchased on-line.