5 Best Practices for Managing Contractors, Visitors and Vendors


Hiring contractors brings specialized skill sets that may not exist in house and provides a flexible staffing model, but doing so also presents new challenges. The issue of qualifying and documenting contract employees and ensuring safety and compliance throughout their time often tops the list.

When OSHA debuted its 1999 “Multi-Employer Policy,” which outlined that more than one employer could be citable for regulatory violations, the policy was a wake-up call to host employers. Many organizations worked to establish written programs and protocols to protect their interests and provide safe work environments for the employees, vendors, visitors and contractors they hired.

But many companies still struggle with the administrative burden of delivering orientations that contractors must complete before working at their site. Even more so, keeping records of, and managing, annually renewing documents can be especially taxing.

Often, it’s not easy to clearly communicate policies in a way that contract employees and vendor will remember and follow through on. It’s time consuming to deliver face-to-face training sessions as each contractor arrives, and it’s challenging to find time for pre-scheduled classroom sessions. It’s difficult to keep reliable records that can be quickly accessed for thousands of contractors. And it’s even harder to keep up on the status of orientations that must be completed on a regular basis, such as annual or monthly refresher courses.

The Campbell Institute (the National Safety Council’s environmental health and safety center of excellence) published a white paper titled “Best Practices in Contractor Management.” The research project aggregated best practices and common challenges in the contractor management programs from institute members. One of the most significant outcomes of the research was the identification and description of the five stages of the contractor lifecycle (presented below).

  1. Prequalification
  2. Pre-Job Task and Risk Assessment
  3. Contractor Orientation & Training
  4. Monitoring of Job
  5. Post-Job Evaluation

Here, we pay particular attention to contractor orientation and training. This third step of the contractor lifecycle takes place prior to contractors starting work. In this step, contractors receive site orientation or induction training. For this step, the Campbell Institute provides these best practices: Standardize presentations and utilize competency-based quizzes in training. Include the requirement of an OSHA 30-hour pre-arrival orientation course for supervisors and an OSHA 10-hour course for workers.

Host employers and their contractors may be able to realize even greater success in workplace safety if they take a beyond compliance alone approach to safety/health continuous process improvement. And that begins with a complete contractor orientation, training and management software solution.

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