VPPPA Presenter Sorts Out Contractor Safety Issues

Cindy Lewis, director of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute and an OSHA Challenge administrator, told the audience at her workshop that contractor safety is an issue for every site she visits.

NASHVILLE – One of the most popular educational workshops at this week's 29th Annual National VPPPA Conference was "Contractor Safety in the Challenge/VPP World," a one-hour Aug. 27 presentation by Cindy Lewis, director of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute (Texas City, Texas) and an OSHA Challenge administrator. Having been involved in site visits for about a decade, she said contractor safety is an issue for every site she visits.

Lewis began with the definition of Applicable Contractor, which is a contractor whose employees are working on a VPP site at least 1,000 hours in any given quarter of the calendar year. The VPP site must report these contractors' hours and 300 injury and illness log data on its annual self-evaluation to OSHA, she explained.

Lewis also covered the elements that should be included in a site's written contractor safety program, including these:

  • The contractor selection process that is used, with the criteria
  • Who will review and approve contractors to work on the site
  • The exemption process – what site officials will do if they decide to hire a contractor that did not meet their criteria and thus would not ordinarily be approved, such as for emergency work of some kind
  • Removal (discipline) both for individual employees and a contractor company
  • Review or renewal
  • Training the site requires for its contract employees, as well as training that is provided on site

She offered advice to new VPP or OSHA Challenge participants for managing contractor safety proactively. "Don't wait. This is one that needs a lot of work," Lewis counseled, adding that industrial hygiene and employee involvement are two areas that usually require lots of time. She recommended that site managers have a visible presence on site to ensure contract employees work safely and also suggested they develop a contractor management policy and audit schedule.

"Many contractors want to help you achieve VPP, and some have very good suggestions," Lewis said.

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