Contractor prequalification is an important step for your business, and there are key things to consider when you hire new employees. Two of the biggest ones are gauging behaviors and knowing how they impact safety processes

Companies should pay close attention to certain behaviors because they can affect the overall safety of the workplace and other workers. Asking the right questions uncovers personal philosophies and whether a contractor will adhere to processes designed to comply with safety regulations, rules, and efficient workflows. 

5 questions to ask during the contractor prequalification process

Key questions during the contractor prequalification process help you compare typical or normal responses versus unusual behaviors. A contractor’s answers will help you make better hiring decisions and reduce employee turnover.

How does the contractor view safety? 

An important question to ask in the contractor prequalification process is the contractor’s views about safety precautions. Give them some examples of workplace scenarios and have them define them as safe and unsafe. Ask them how they arrived at this decision and what they would do differently to ensure a safe environment for their team. This answer can have a serious impact on the workplace as they will be leading by example and impact the behavior of others. 

Does the contractor view safety as a function of the level of risk associated with a particular activity or acceptable to the population as a whole? Do they feel it is an arbitrary standard, or do they buy into the concept of zero risks? This is crucial to know, as it defines what will be considered safe on the job site and the safety standards they set. 

Normal or typical behavior: The contractor’s answer should include the need to research safety maxims to evaluate if they apply to the modern working environment. They should be aware of critical safety regulations and understand the risks they attempt to reduce or eliminate.

Unusual behavior: Repeating a safety maxim as-is without noting the supporting history or evidence that brought about compliance processes with today’s standards and situations. 

Can they make common-sense decisions? 

Following safety rules is important, but making common-sense decisions about whether safety rules are outdated (or plain wrong) is important, too. Making important decisions about on-the-job safety is crucial during the contractor prequalification process. They need to be able to stand behind the decisions they make and why they feel it would make the workplace safer. 

Normal Behavior: Common sense lets the contractor recognizing that, in some cases, the law may be outdated or not applicable to the situation. Following an outdated regulation could result in negligence if the rules don’t align with the processes that are proven to be safer than the rule being mandated. 

Unusual Behavior: Weaving incorrect information into safety practices to make it suit the circumstances. The evidence they use is not backed up with known research and data. 

Can they modify rules when necessary? 

The ability to make common-sense decisions about safety rules and regulations becomes apparent in problem-solving scenarios. Making informed decisions lets the contractor discover the potential to safely modify certain processes to suit the workplace better. 

Normal Behavior: Determining whether the available scientific data supports or refutes a rule or official policy and taking the appropriate action to ensure the outcome is a safe solution for the environment. Their team can see the logic behind decision-making and are confident in the processes being presented.

Unusual Behavior: Accepting incorrect and outdated rules just because they may be current safety maxims. They don’t do the research and will enforce rules that could cause employee confusion and distrust. If their team questions their decision, they won’t follow precautions, and processes will become inconsistent and potentially dangerous.

Do they know where to look for data? 

When prequalifying a contractor, it’s essential to know where they find the data being applied to processes. Are they looking at established safety protocols on reputable government websites, safety certification resources, or industry colleagues? Data plays an important role when defining safety and backing up changes to work processes. Without it, contractors may be making assumptions about safety based on the wrong data or evidence. 

Normal Behavior: Doing research, vetting the research sources, and realizing the referenced rules and regulations may not represent scientific findings or be backed by data

Unusual Behavior: Not looking at the data sources to determine if existing rules and regulations are best for safety. Also, not taking the time to corroborate data or doing any research before proposing changes. 

Can they differentiate between observations and conclusions? 

One of the most important things to pay attention to when prequalifying contractors is if they can differentiate between observations and conclusions when doing research. Observations are made during the research, but conclusions are drawn that are necessary to create intended results. Knowing this difference is key, as it determines the contractor’s ability to identify what they observed versus the action that needs to be implemented to achieve the desired outcome in the workplace. 

Normal Behavior: Acknowledging observations and realizing they can supplement their research with actual work scenarios and situations to design a safety process correctly. 

Unusual Behavior: Taking an observation and coming up with a narrow finding, even though other workplace circumstances and plenty of other research contribute to the final outcome.  

Paying attention to responses to safety regulations and processes when prequalifying contractors helps you ensure a safer and more secure workplace. The more you know about a potential new hire’s behavior, the more likely you’ll find a better fit. Having the appropriate personnel from the start ensures the success of the individual, the team they manage or work with, and keeps the workplace running efficiently and safely.