Managing Utility Contractors

Managing Utility Contractors

As a utility plant Safety Administrator for many years, I have seen contractors do some dangerous things.  As a result of their actions, the price they paid resulted in death, injury, and property damage. 

For the most part utilities, just like other companies, sometimes choose the lowest bidder for construction contracts thinking they have saved their company money. Someone, the plant Safety
Administrator perhaps, will briefly review the contractor’s Health and Safety Plan or may not request one at all. Unfortunately, management may just assume the contractor will work safely and comply with the appropriate agency and or in-house regulations and policies.

Okay, so your utility company has just hired a contractor to work at your facility. So what’s your next step? If you have qualified safety professionals working for your utility you can rest a little easier knowing they’ve insisted that contractor submits a HASP. Of course this was made clear to all contractors before sitting in the “Pre-Bid” meeting.  You have included the contractor in
plant orientation programs and have documented their attendance. Your qualified safety in-house inspector will now shadow the contractor to ensure their compliance with safety and environmental concerns. The work is satisfactorily completed. You finished on or under budget and most importantly no one was injured.

However, if your utility relies on operations, maintenance, stores, or human resource personnel to handle contractors you may be asking for trouble. Those people are excellent when it comes to keeping units “on-line” and making sure your employees “do the right thing”… but ensuring contractors follow the safety rules,… not so much. The cost of a qualified environmental, health, and safety consultant is minimal compared to the dollars resulting from employee injuries and fatalities, damaged equipment, and your company’s good reputation.

United Alliance Service Corporation (UASC) consultants have experience working with power generation, electrical and gas distribution and more importantly understand that your contractors may not be familiar with working near electrical equipment, or in confined spaces, or controlling sources of energy. UASC consultants are familiar with both OSHA and environmental regulations and can help you through the process of hiring the right contractor starting from “Pre-Bid” meetings to “Award Meetings”. UASC’s EH&S staff will review your contractor’s submitted HASP making sure it not only complies with the applicable standards but meets or exceeds your site specific policies and requirements. Site inspections and detailed reports as well as providing you with important safety compliance feedback on your project will help you evaluate your current contractor’s performance and set a bench mark for your future contractors.

You’ve established and maintained a safety culture for your employees that works. Why not insist that your contractor works with you to preserve that culture? Contact our office to learn how we can help you manage your utility contractors.

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