Contractor Safety Programs for Airports: 7 Steps

Airport management should consider developing a contractor safety program to minimize internal and third-party personnel risks.

Contractors are vital to airport maintenance and improvement, but their varying degrees of safety training and experience can complicate workplace safety management. To combat this challenge, airports should develop a contractor safety program that prequalifies, trains, and monitors third-party personnel to foster ongoing safety performance, all while maintaining compliance with governmental regulations.

This article outlines seven steps airports should consider when creating a contractor safety program or updating a new one. Integrating them into current processes can protect the individuals on your job sites and, consequently, the airport.

Building a Contractor Safety Program: 7 Steps

1. Assess Current Safety Performance

The first step in creating a contract safety program is viewing data on incident history. Management should note all occurrences in this evaluation, which should include the following:

  • Contractor injuries
  • Contractor illnesses
  • Property damage
  • Delays due to accidents
  • Claims from under-insured contractors

Safety teams should be alert to trends; for instance, several ankle injuries could indicate a lack of proper footwear or dangerously uneven ground. 

To ascertain whether any potential safety hazards may be frequent at the airport’s project sites, consider conducting various job site inspections and comparing them. 

For example, management examines previous incident reports and discusses the results with safety and risk solutions personnel. Each evaluation can assist in identifying areas in the current safety program where gaps require immediate attention.

2. Establish Contractor Safety KPIs

Airports can further enhance contractor safety by tracking and assessing relative key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the abovementioned assessments, which might include the following:

  • Rate of injuries
  • Lost time injury frequency rate
  • Near-misses
  • Fitness assessments
  • Corrective actions
  • Productive Days %
  • Average time to resolution of risks

Safety metrics is a crucial tool used by airport safety leaders to raise awareness of safety compliance and inspire employees to perform better. Many airports use a third-party software supplier (discussed in further detail below) to host a digital dashboard for their contractors that displays essential safety-related KPIs for the company.

By holding department leaders responsible for them, visible analyses of KPIs that reflect safety adherence and improvement can aid in lowering significant event rates. 

Teams can plan for ongoing improvement by holding regular meetings to examine KPIs, incidents, reasons, and necessary remedial steps.

3. Set a Program Budget

Creating an academic safety program is one thing, but allocating the money and resources necessary to implement it is quite another. 

These plans only work when safety teams identify all possible risks and take the corresponding precautions. As such, the budget should cover several action items, including the following (and as discussed below):

  • Proper contractor training  
  • Ongoing field monitoring
  • Thorough inspections and audits of the job sites
  • The hiring of dedicated safety coordinators

4. Draft Compliance-Friendly Contracts 

Contracts help outline management’s expectations for the performance and readiness of its contractors. Legal contract language should stipulate that they must abide by all applicable FAA and airport-specific health and safety regulations. 

Specific criteria should include the following:

  • Insurance requirements
  • Project description
  • Timeline
  • Payment schedule
  • Project cleanup

Airports might also consider linking meeting safety criteria with their accounts payable procedures to encourage and enforce contractor compliance. 

For instance, accounts payable might postpone payment until a non-compliant contractor corrects course, as demonstrated by a suitable safety score in the contractor management system.

5. Provide the Proper Training

A critical step in building the contractor safety program is proper training before entering the construction site.

Training topics should include (but are far from limited to) the following:

  • Manual handling procedures
  • Vehicle Safety
  • Ergonomic training
  • Equipment management
  • Fall protection
  • Hazardous substance handling
  • Document management

Furthermore, airport management can best prepare contractors by offering training tailored to their specific responsibilities, from electrical work inside the terminal to runway rehabilitation on the airfield.

The key to assuring compliance is using badging or other technology-based solutions to enable simple verification of training completed before a contractor begins to work.

6. Conduct Inspections and Audits

Practical techniques to monitor contractor safety performance often include the following: 

  • Job site walkthroughs
  • Routine on-site inspections
  • Audits

Typically, internal personnel carry out these action items, but some airports might complement their resources with outside parties to keep work under careful observation. 

Airports with advanced contractor safety programs might go beyond contractor prequalification and monitoring by including safety performance in post-project assessments and close-out discussions. 

7. Integrate the Best Contractor Management Software

It takes time to collect and audit data from safety reports, and airports can do so faster and more effectively with the proper management software.

A third-party solutions provider with proper management expertise can standardize the airport’s vetting process, providing visibility into whether a contractor company meets its safety objectives. These solutions free up internal resources by handling the time-consuming collection and review of safety program information from contractors. 

At the level of the individual worker, it can also give a clear picture of the training and readiness of contract workers and help identify those who require additional training.

Build a Better Contractor Safety Program

A written plan alone cannot minimize preventable incidents on or around airport work sites. Instead, management must commit to implementing a comprehensive contractor safety program across all airport projects. A complete program demonstrates your airport’s dedication to protecting all personnel – both contractors and internal personnel with whom they engage – from harm.

However, designing that program requires integrating the industry’s premier data-driven technology. Work with us to configure a solution addressing your airport’s safety requirements.

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