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Critical Steps In Managing Contractor Safety And Suppliers During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Operating within the ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging enough even when just working with numerous employee stakeholders across multiple worksites. These difficulties compound when dealing with contractors and suppliers external to the firm. Challenges such as movement between multiple sites, loss of visibility over contractors on-site, confusion over COVID-19 safety protocol and supplier go-live status can severely inhibit day-to-day operations. Firms in contractor-intensive industries such as construction, oil and gas, manufacturing and retail consumer products are most at risk from being ill-prepared as regions gradually re-open businesses and lessen restrictions.

Vendors such as Achilles, Alcumus Group, Avetta, IsoMetrix, SAI Global and Veriforce have established specialized contractor safety capabilities to help mitigate COVID-19 risks from affecting contractor and supplier operations. Avetta and TenForce, for example, provide prequalification software to help procurement teams weed out the highest-risk contractor firms through a combination of pre-configured templates and automated qualification processes. OneLook Systems, an Ireland-headquartered contractor safety management software provider, offers video tutorials for onboarding such as hand washing and other hygiene rules. Intelex, KPA and Veriforce all offer training content as well specific to COVID-19 awareness for mid-market firms and contractor entities. Other key functionalities include integrating contractor COVID-19 data into visitor management systems for secure site access, video analytics to track adherence to PPE and social distancing protocols, COVID-19 disclosures and contact tracing within permit-to-work issuances, and leveraging analytics to visualize COVID-19 risks to contractor operations.

With numerous firms looking to re-open operations and re-examine the feasibility and risks of their existing contractor and supplier relationships, there are three key considerations to assess. Firstly, firms should assess and identify the information they need to collect from contractors and suppliers to best manage and mitigate COVID-19 risk exposures. Effective contractor safety is not just limited to supplier document management but also entails visibility into site access and contact tracing. Secondly, firms should look to make the most of existing EHS software solutions they are using. Among the 23 vendors assessed in our Green Quadrant EHS software study, 11 scored 2.0/3.0 or higher for contractor safety solutions. Finally, firms should look to build a holistic contractor and supplier onboarding and evaluation program. Change management will be essential through communication, training and awareness to maintain and reinforce the desired COVID-19 behaviors.

To learn more about the role of technology in helping firms manage contractors and suppliers during the COVID-19 pandemic, read our report Managing Contractor Safety During The COVID-19 Pandemic With Technology and Eleven Critical Actions To Take For Returning To Work Post COVID-19.

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