Project Planning with Contractors


In today’s world, we find ourselves in a rush to be productive and get things done.  As technology continues to provide the tools needed to complete our tasks in record time, we find ourselves pushing to get the next task started.  When it comes to working with contractors and using them for construction and project work, this rush to get things started can have devastating consequences.

Considering the potential for serious injury, illness, property damage, production/financial loss, and public relations issues, it is wise for a hiring company to take the time to implement a project planning phase with its contractors.  Many hiring companies strive to mitigate risk by utilizing prequalification services to ensure their contractors have proper insurance, meet their safety standards, and have other important items in place.  Using a contractor prequalification service is prudent and a smart business strategy, but once the contractors have been vetted and selected for the project work, a planning and coordination phase must be initiated.

This planning and coordination phase is one of the most important steps that is often overlooked.  Things to consider in the process include:

  • What is the scope of work?
  • How will a contractor’s work affect operations?
  • What are the hazards they will create and encounter?
  • What are their plans to eliminate or control the hazards?
  • Do they have the necessary equipment to complete the job?
  • Do they have the necessary personal protective equipment to protect their employees?
  • Are they implementing and following all applicable safety procedures?
  • What regulatory requirements are applicable to their work?
  • Will the work create environmental issues?
  • Are they introducing hazardous materials or chemicals to the site?
  • What precautions are being taken to protect the hiring company’s employees and property?

These are just some of the questions that should be asked prior to the start of a project.  Project planning can be complex, but when broken down and completed in a methodical manner, the process will be successful.  Elements of the project planning process can include:

  •  Pre-Construction Meetings

These meetings allow the project team and contractors to thoroughly discuss the project scope.  It allows both parties to understand how the project will be completed, how the facility and employees will be impacted, what policies and procedures must be followed, and what safety measures the contractor will utilize to keep people and property safe and free from hazards.

  • Written Safety Plans

A written safety plan describes the process for identifying both physical and health hazards as they relate to the project scope, as well as the procedures and equipment that will be used to control hazards and prevent incidents. It is a documented approach to protecting both people and property.

  • Safety Kick-Off Meetings

Once the initial planning meetings have taken place and the project is ready to begin, it is beneficial to gather contractor workers for a safety kick-off meeting.  Here, the importance of following the plans to keep everyone safe and adhere to all policies and procedures can be reviewed and communicated.  This meeting also enables the opening of important lines of communication between the project team and all workers, and for them to hear and understand the expectations for their safety performance.

  • Periodic Reviews and Updates

Because the nature of a project can be fluid, it is important that periodic reviews are planned and conducted, and that updates are made as the project progresses.  Open communication and regular meetings with contractors help to accomplish this.  This allows for needed corrective action to be made and assists in the efforts to keep everyone on the same page and to prevent serious mishaps or project delays from happening.

Hiring companies find that having staff that is trained and has the appropriate knowledge to ask important questions, facilitate planning, and coordinate the work with contractors allows them to achieve their project planning goals.

When properly implemented, project planning with contractors can have positive and significant impacts on the protection of people and property, quality of work, project budget, project schedule, and contribute to the overall success of a project.

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