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Considerations: Using Vendors for Workplace Safety Efforts

Vendor Instructing Female Apprentice On Use Of DrillDate: April 2021

An effective safety program requires everyone’s commitment in the organization, but strategies to accomplish this objective can vary from one organization to another. Using vendors for workplace safety may be an option to supplement internal efforts, but the ultimate responsibility for the organization’s safety program remains with the employer.

Involving staff in and holding them accountable for workplace safety and loss control efforts is critical for success. They have a vested interest in protecting their health, are closest to the situations that pose the risk, notice issues and can suggest improvements. Developing and supporting regular safety committee meetings, allow employees and management jointly to address issues and collaboratively work toward solutions.

Recognizing that an organization may have limited expertise or time, their using outside resources may be an option to complement the safety program.

How an entity specifically addresses safety, including regulatory compliance, varies greatly, but the ultimate responsibility remains with the employer and cannot be transferred to a third party vendor.

Outside Sources

Several technical colleges, purchasing cooperatives and private companies provide fee-based technical services to assist with developing an organization’s safety programs. They can assist with annual and specific hazard training; writing safety programs; conducting safety surveys; and complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.

Although a third party’s technical expertise may greatly assist an organization, solely relying on a contracted safety vendor rather than building internal knowledge can mean that safety efforts fall short. A vendor may be able to provide OSHA-required training and safety program compliance, but it may not be tailored to or address what is needed to reduce injuries and resulting claims unique to the organization’s operation.

This is due to the fact that third parties are not in the workplace on a daily basis and, therefore, are unable to gain expertise in an organization’s processes and culture, or keep apprised of issues and implement changes in a timely manner. Also, vendors lack the authority to implement change and do not have the financial or personal interest in controlling the organization’s losses.

Contracting a Safety Vendor

An entity should take the following steps when thinking about contracting with a third party vendor for its safety efforts:

  • Consult with MCIT to determine what work MCIT can do independently or in conjunction with staff and/or the safety committee. This reduces the possibility of duplication and ensures the effective use of the organization’s financial resources. Entities should keep in mind that most MCIT services are provided at no cost as part of membership.
  • Consider issuing a request for proposal if a vendor is determined to be an appropriate provider.
  • Ensure that the agreement is authorized by the governing board.
  • Remember to consult with legal counsel.

If an entity is issuing a request for proposal, it should include:

  • the scope of on-site work, particularly differentiating between the numbers of on-site training sessions and on-site surveys or visits included in the contract. This should also address how training for absent employees and new employee pre-hazard exposure required training will be accomplished.
  • specific written programs the vendor will develop and/or maintain and the price for each task.
  • the location(s) and time line for safety surveys.
  • definitions of activities such as “surveys,” “orientation” and “training,” so there is no confusion regarding the work that is expected from the vendor and what is provided by the vendor.
  • how the vendor will comply with Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13 when dealing with data related to employee accident and injury information.
  • the organization’s vendor insurance requirements.
  • qualifications and the level of experience expected of those providing services.
  • the expected role of the vendor in the event of an OSHA inspection and citations.
  • a description of other services included in the contract or available for an extra fee (e.g., job hazard analysis or lock out/tag out program creation)
  • language that requires the vendor to indemnify, defend and hold the organization harmless for the vendor’s negligent acts.
  • consideration for a discount if the services are shared with other entities.

Loss Control Services Included with MCIT Membership

As a joint risk sharing pool, MCIT has a vested interest in ensuring that members prevent workplace accidents. MCIT recognizes and addresses issues beyond regulatory requirements that expose members to loss. Effective loss reduction strategies can have a direct impact on how much members contribute to MCIT for coverage and potentially receive in dividends.

Knowing that members may need technical assistance with safety efforts, MCIT offers a variety of loss control services as part of membership. One of these is loss control consultation.

In addition to identifying workplace hazards and regulatory issues, MCIT loss control consultants collaborate with members to develop strategies to prevent property, automobile, workers’ compensation and liability losses. Each of these professionals works strictly with MCIT members within an assigned geographic area to ensure that members receive high-quality, timely loss control recommendations.

MCIT Assists Members with Their Safety Efforts

MCIT is a cooperative joint-powers organization formed by Minnesota counties and associated members. This means that members contribute to a joint fund instead of paying premiums to an insurance company. The money MCIT uses to pay claims is taken from this fund. Every loss that is avoided benefits all members by preserving the integrity of the fund. This is the reason MCIT gives such a high priority to helping members minimize risks and reduce losses.

As such, MCIT loss control consultants can assist members with the following safety efforts at no additional cost:

  • safety committee training and participation
  • property protection surveys
  • hazard identification
  • participation in safety training
  • parks and fairground safety surveys
  • ergonomic surveys and ergonomics train-
  • OSHA compliance questions and updates
  • AWAIR program and other written safety program review
  • slip, trip and fall awareness and training

Other MCIT no-cost services that may serve members’ safety needs:

For more information about MCIT loss control services, members can contact MCIT at 1.866.547.6516 or visit the Safety Consultation Services page.

The information contained in this document is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or coverage advice on any specific matter.