ORC Worldwide, a global consultancy with an environmental health and safety office in Washington, D.C., released today three research reports that address contractor safety.

Increasing use of contractor workers for some of the most dangerous jobs in industry, growing anecdotal evidence that these workers are suffering disproportionate injuries and fatalities, combined with the absence of reliable data, led ORC and other safety leaders to believe that contractor safety was a serious – and largely unrecognized – safety problem, according to ORC.

What follows is only a brief summary of these new findings. To read the complete reports please go to the new ORC Worldwide Center of Excellence Web site:www.orcehs.org/

“Identifying Contract Worker Risk “- The purpose of this research effort is to identify and evaluate tools and methods that address three themes: 1) risk identification; 2) risk perception; 3) risk communication. This research project consist of two reports:

Literature Review and Synthesis of Methods and Tools for Risk Identification, Risk Perception and Risk Communication identifies various methods of risk identification, risk perception and risk communication currently used for contract workers. In addition, the report evaluates these methods in order to: identify the most effective methods to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities; reveal the ways current methods are fail ing to prevent these incidents; and find opportunities for improvement.

The second document,Recommendations for a Method of Risk Identification, Risk Perception, and Risk Communication,is intended for safety professionals, safety staff, and management or owners of businesses who utilize contract workers for hazardous work.

It details a best practice method that has the potential to improve on the current methods and more effectively identify risk, enhance risk perception and more effectively communicate risks to contract workers.

To address the breakdown in the communication of information about hazards and risks to contract workers, the report describes an 8-step comprehensive safety process, theContract Worker Safety Process.

Finally, the report recommends a methodology to assess the effectiveness of the newly developed method that may be conducted in future research.

“Contractor Safety Prequalification” – Host employers are able to manage the safety of their own workforce while they must essentially buy the safety of their contract workers. They do this through the prequalification process and by selecting contractors that are likely to perform safely on the job. This report, the work of University of Utah researchers, provides a number of valuable insights about the prequalification process: 1) To be effective, safety prequalification must be integrated into a larger culture of safety at the host employer that includes contract workers; and 2) Past safety performance of contract employers is a better predictor of future performance than assessments of current safety capacity.

“Metrics to Predict Contractor Safety Performance” - The authors of this research were asked to study metrics for predicting contractor performance and to specifically identify metrics that could be used to predict “fatalities and serious injuries” for contractors. The study concluded that lost workday injury and illness incidence (LWDII) rates, compliance with OSHA standards, and fatalities had predictive value. However, the predictive value varied by industry sector and by the severity of the case.