What to consider before hiring a contractor

A contract being signed and Occupational Health and Safety ActBusinesses across Canada spend thousands of dollars each year on building construction, repairs, equipment installation, and facility management such as cleaning, snow removal, and landscaping. Price, time, and quality are generally deciding factors when hiring a contractor. But not all consider the impact on their business if a contractor experiences a serious incident or fatality.

The importance of health and safety when hiring a contractor

If serious injury or fatality occurs while a contractor is working for you, it can damage your company’s reputation. This could also result in a shutdown until enforcement agencies complete a thorough investigation. Additionally, it can be a very traumatic experience for your employees, and your company could be dragged into litigation.

When hiring a contractor or service provider, examining their health and safety performance and the systems they have in place can minimize the risk of an incident and harm to your business.

Here are some factors you should consider before finalizing agreements.

Consider the injury and illness performance of a contractor

Review the contractor or service provider’s lost-time injury rate (LTI) and no lost-time injury rate (NLTI) over the last several years. A lower rate for each measure is better and indicates they have had fewer injuries in comparison to the total number of workers they employed. You can ask the contractor or service provider to supply this information or verify it yourself online using the WSIB’s Safety Check service. Safety Check is a free tool that can simultaneously compare LTI and NLTI rates for up to 6 companies and describe the most common types of injuries experienced by each firm.

A contractor’s injury rate may have some limitations

Some contractors may have multiple divisions, each performing work of varying risk levels. If high-risk work is unrelated to the work to be performed for you, their injury rates may be higher. Secondly, if a contractor or service provider recently changed processes used to carry out their work, uses new equipment or materials, or hires new people, the risk may also have changed. In that case, relying on the injury rates alone may not fully reflect how well the contractor or service provider manages health and safety.

Request a list of incidents from the past five years

Ask each contractor or service provider for a list of all incidents in the past five years. Review what happened in each incident and find out what they did for each incident to prevent it from happening again. It would help if you also looked for similar incidents that could signify that measures to address specific hazards did not work, or even worse, were never put in place.

Compliance orders issued to the contractor by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

Request all copies of any compliance orders issued to the contractor over the last five years by the Ministry. Review each order, examine the severity of the contravention, and find out how the contractor complied.

Verify that a contractor is in good standing with the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB)

Ask for a copy of their WSIB Clearance Certificate, which shows they are in good standing with the WSIB and have continued insurance coverage. You can also check their status online with the WSIB.

Taking your contractor prequalification requirements to the next level

Before awarding contracts, some businesses request even more information from prospective contractors and service providers. This could include a review of the following:

  • Health and safety program
  • Knowledge, experience, and skills of each supervisor that will oversee the work
  • A review of their Joint Health and Safety Committee meeting minutes
  • Health and safety orientation and training completed by their employees as well as whether it aligns with the anticipated hazards of the work
  • Their procedures for selecting, using, and caring for required personal protective equipment
  • Hazardous products that will be used in your workplace by the contractor
  • Equipment that will be used and its condition
  • First aid and incident response measures
  • Work that may be sub-contracted and those subcontractors’ health and safety performance

WorkBright™ specializes in developing contractor prequalification health and safety criteria customized to the unique needs of your business. Call us and find out how we can help you reduce the risk of incidents that can negatively impact your business.