Construction sites rely on contracted workforces. On US construction sites, for example, one in every five workers is a contractor and this is set to increase to 50% by the end of the decade. Contractor workforces may have flexibility, but they also bring problems in terms of workplace safety. What are the best ways for a construction company to create a safer working environment?

The construction industry’s reliance on contractors has a major drawback when it comes to creating a cohesive safety policy. Each contractor will bring to the site their own occupational health and safety knowledge, training and experience. This may not always align with other contractors or the policies of the construction company. When this happens, managing workplace safety can be difficult.

One of the best solutions is to introduce a contractor safety program. This will require contractors to show they are pre-qualified to set standards for safety before they are hired. It also provides a mechanism for the construction company to monitor and manage safety performance. A program such as this will ensure contractors are adequately equipped and trained to mitigate on-site risk – a key component in any safe working environment and with critical importance in construction projects.

Here are some other simple practices a construction company can introduce to create safer worksites.


One of the most impactful tools in the construction company’s store is induction training. It affords the organization the opportunity to clearly establish its expectations regarding on-site behavior and safety. In addition, it provides assurance that contractors are properly prepared to work safely in the environments for which they have been hired and made aware of the importance of safety for the construction company that hires them. Training efficiently and effectively prepares contractors to safely operate machinery and helps them understand how to mitigate the unique safety hazards of their jobs.


Induction training must remain relevant to current legislation and the requirements of the site, including Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Policy. It should be regularly updated through training that covers updates and insights gained from incidents and safety audits.  This allows the latest regulatory information and corrective/preventative actions to be incorporated into the training a contractor

Contracts and Accounts Payable Processes

The contract is a chance to clearly establish safety expectations on the site. The language used in it must incorporate relevant local and national requirements alongside any company-specific health and safety requirements. It may also include requirements concerning pre-qualification for contractors.

Some companies also introduce an addition level of protection by linking safety performance to the accounts payable process. This provides a motivation for contractors to comply with the pre-defined OH&S rules. This process can be controlled by either the company or a third-party provider, with the contractor being obliged to demonstrate it has maintained an acceptable safety score.

Third-party providers can assist in several ways, including coordinating documentation, providing guidance over appropriate occupational health and safety regulations, and access controls to designated areas.

Contractor Safety KPIs

Monitoring the safety record of contractors requires the establishing and tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs). These allow the organization and the contractor to see accurate statistics concerning the number of safety-related incidents and rates of time lost due to OH&S Policy breaches.

OH&S metrics can be used to create an awareness of the right safety culture. This can motivate workers to improve their performance. In addition, it can be used during regular meetings when discussing incidents, their root cause, and possible corrective actions. Ultimately, this data is important for promoting continuous improvement in all aspects of occupational health and safety.

Audits and Post-Project Evaluations

Construction companies should hold periodic on-site inspections and jobsite walk-throughs throughout the overall construction process. In addition to this time-specific data, an annual OH&S Management System audit will provide an overview of the safety performance of contractors.

When an organization instigates an advanced contractor safety program, they can also go beyond simple pre-qualification and monitoring by integrating safety performance into post-project evaluations and close-out conversations.

It should also be remembered, construction companies often rely on the same contractors for each project. This provides an opportunity for better performance evaluation and affords them the chance to collaborate on better subcontractor management. The aim should always be to look at what has happened and why, to continually improve safety adherence among contractors and subcontractors.

Data collected during contractor safety audits and post-project evaluations can also be shared along the supply chain to better the organization’s understanding of on-site OH&S and improve management.

Technology and Third-Party Support

One of the most prominent trends in contractor safety is the utilization of technology. Gathering, verifying and auditing occupational health and safety metrics covering contractors can be difficult. Leveraging technology simplifies this process considerably.

Third-party providers use advanced analytical techniques to analyze this data. The insights they gain can be used to help operators to introduce standardized approaches in health and safety, including prequalification so they can choose the right contractor for the job.


There are multiple benefits in taking this proactive approach to workplace safety. Firstly, it creates an environment in which risk is identified and resolved before it becomes an accident. This will reduce worker injuries and increase OH&S Policy awareness and site productivity.

Secondly, it provides a framework through which an organization can coordinate all aspects of its occupational health and safety policy. This can be enhanced by the adoption of a OH&S Management System, such as ISO 45001, which incorporates contractors into the safety plan and allows the drafting, implementation and verification of improved safety plans. This approach will ensure a construction site is safe and run in full compliance with relevant regulations, thereby helping the company to avoid the large fines associated with violations. At the same time, it also protects and enhances the organization’s reputation among stakeholders.

Finally, by utilizing expert advice and implementing recommendations for future safety maintenance, a contractor safety program can significantly contribute towards a long-term culture of OH&S.

SGS offers a comprehensive range of services to help make construction sites safer. We have the industry and regulatory experience required to support companies in improving their occupational health and safety policies. Our services include safety training courses, risk assessment, guidance on occupational health and safety legislation, consultation for developing health and safety plans, certification controls for crane operators, ISO 45001 management systems certification, internal license controls, and PPE controls. In addition, we also provide a dedicated training course for construction site supervisors to help them improve site safety and meet relevant regulations.

Learn more about SGS Health, Safety and Environment Management Services.

Learn more about SGS Construction Safety Training for Supervisors.

Learn more about for ISO 45001 Training Courses. 



Your name

Your e-mail

Name receiver

E-mail address receiver

Your message




Sign up