The consequences of non-compliant contractors are significant. Learning how to deal with contractor non-compliance can prevent a disastrous safety, financial, and legal burden on the employer.

When non-compliance occurs, proper communication with the contractor is necessary to address the issue and uncover the deeper cause to prevent repeat offenses. Contractor non-compliance can be prevented to ensure a safe environment and prevent employers from undue hardship.

Consequences of Contractor and Employer Non-Compliance

Non-compliant contractors lead to risks to the employer in a variety of ways. Five major ways non-compliance impacts contractors and employers are;

  • Endangering lives

  • Increasing legal liability and lawsuits

  • Greater financial penalties, fines, and imprisonment

  • Reputational damage

  • Complicating relationships

Employers must provide effective leadership in health and safety management to prevent these risks. However, when these risks are not prevented an employer must understand how to appropriately deal with the consequences.

Dealing with Non-Compliant Contractors

When a non-compliance situation arises, the employer is responsible for communicating the issue and consequences of the non-compliance to the contractor. Communication should take place in a face-to-face meeting.

The employer can choose to deal with the non-compliant contractor in one of two ways:

#1 – Explain the Consequences

The object of explaining consequences to contractors isn’t to attack them for mistakes. Instead, it is to build a comfortable relationship for free-flowing questions between the employer and contractor.

Employers should clearly outline the specific consequences if the contractor continues their behavior. Depending on the severity of the non-compliance behavior, employers can:

  • Limit promotions
  • Take away bonuses
  • Limit privileges
  • Enact a probation period
  • Firing non-compliant contractors is not always the best solution and employers may not have the legal grounds to do so either.

#2 – Use Positive Motivation

Rewarding contractors through positive motivation is oftentimes a better option than negative reinforcement. Employers can set benchmarks with contractors by outlining performance and result expectations.

Effective positive motivation can be:

  • Personnel evaluations that add compliance into promotions
  • Recognition for contractors that show safety compliance and leadership
  • Rewards for group safety accomplishments

Whether the employer chooses to outline the repercussions or use positive incentives, they should follow through with these next steps:

Be consistent. Consistency is key if employers want contractors to take them seriously. Employers should uphold the consequences or the promised incentives they provided.

Measure progress. Monitor the non-compliant contractor to make sure they are improving their behavior.

Make it a team effort. Non-compliance can be caused by work culture. Making compliance a team effort ties all contractors to one compliant and clear standard instead of singling one contractor out.

Encourage exceptional performance. Positive reinforcement of compliant behavior turns non-compliant contractors into safe and motivated workers.

Employer Compliance Responsibilities

Employer compliance is equally important as contractor compliance. Employers should comply with government regulations and their treatment towards contractors.

An employer’s general compliance responsibilities are:

  • Establishing and maintaining a health and safety committee or representative

  • Taking reasonable precautions ensuring workplace and contractor safety

  • Training contractors on potential hazards, how to properly operate equipment, and handle emergencies

  • Making sure contractors use any necessary personal protective equipment

  • Immediately reporting critical injuries to the appropriate sources

  • Appointing competent supervisors and leaders who set standards for compliance and ensure safe working conditions

Preventing Contractor Non-Compliance

The best way to deal with consequences is by preventing them from happening. Employers can prevent or lessen the possibility of contractor non-compliance by:

  • Keeping certifications up-to-date

  • Providing adequate training and enforce with daily safety reminders

  • Maintaining proper contract management

  • Being extremely clear about roles and responsibilities

  • Staying organized and communicating changes to contractors

Up-to-date certifications. Employers who ensure up-to-date certifications on forklifts and other machinery are vital to contractor safety and preventing non-compliance. Ensuring contractors are up-to-date with their certifications enhances trust and engagement.

Employers can choose a dedicated tracking software to keep track of contractor certifications and cut their chances of human error. Some studies have suggested 90% of manual tracking methods like excel sheets contain errors.

Training and daily safety reminders. The most common cause of safety non-compliance by contractors is inattention to safety detail during training and on-the-job. Employers can prevent this laxity by reminding contractors daily about safety.

Proper contract management. Employers should avoid auto-renewal contracts with Evergreen clauses which may not be beneficial to their organization. An Evergreen contract can open an employer’s risk of limiting contract flexibility.

Employers can prevent contractor non-compliance by conducting contract compliance audits. Employers need to make sure they comply with contract terms along with their contractors.

Creating a consistent contract review process will help maintain contract compliance. The most important piece is to make sure to have an established process that both the employer and contractor can follow.

Clarity of roles and responsibilities. For employers and contractors to stay in compliance, they must be crystal clear on safety. Expectations that come across foggy and unclear breakdown communication lead to the risk of non-compliance or breached contracts.

Good organization and open communication. Timeliness is a key feature in compliance. Organized employers are better equipped to stay up to date on contract deadlines.

Employers with organized and open communication effectively communicate health and safety best practices to contractors. Informed and engaged contractors are statistically less likely to suffer from workplace accidents through non-compliant behavior.