Contractor Management in the Digital Age

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Contractor management is a legal obligation. Contractors have requirements and so do the companies that employ them. In the digital age, there is particular importance in getting things right. Ensuring information is correct when managing your contractors is vital as one tiny mistake can lose you time and money.

Manual tracking can produce errors, especially on big jobs and jobs where any part of the process is rushed or low on time to be completed. This is why using an advanced digital system—advanced because it simplifies tasks while ensuring safety, security, and a high level of accuracy—is recommended by LinkSafe. Digital management systems are beneficial to your business in several ways.

Efficient Time Management

Any job involves a lot of moving parts, with a lot of work that needs to be done and all too often not enough time to do it in. Organising contractors has to be done efficiently, and with as little time spent chasing up loose ends as possible. Paper management can often result in lost time chasing down documents, figuring out who to contact, and ensuring time on the job is recorded.

Digital management systems integrate all of this, smoothly displaying needed data when required, and allowing for easy manipulation of work orders and contractor requirements. This means time spent managing contractors massively decreases.

Prequalification

Getting new contractors and new employees up to date with a job’s procedures, and training them in the necessary systems, can take a lot of time and effort. Digital management systems allow for custom training modules to be created that can be completed online. Every new worker who starts a job simply completes the online training beforehand and arrives ready to work and prequalified.

Any extra needs can be addressed smoothly on an individual basis, and industry certifications can be tracked as well.

Compliance and Legal Requirements

Most industries require standards to be met for legal reasons, and many different levels of government have their own rules and regulations. Ensuring every individual contractor is aware of the requirements of their job, and also ensuring they follow those requirements, can be a nightmare.

Digital management not only allows you to quickly and easily see what requirements need to be met, and to track those that already have, it also puts the responsibility to meet these requirements into the contractor’s hands. With the digital management software walking them through requirements on an as-needed and on the job basis, everything is up to code as soon as it is done.

Data Accuracy

Data accuracy is important not just in ensuring your business records can be referred to and relied on for work purposes, but also to meet your legal obligations. Inaccurate data can cause many problems in the workplace. From placing a supply order for the wrong quantity to underpaying or overpaying employees to reporting the wrong financial information at tax time, what may seem like a small error when it happens can quickly escalate and lose your company money and time. Ensuring data is accurate cannot be highly enough recommended. Using a digital management system can make this much easier and more efficient.

Digital management software turns tracking all the small but vital details of contractor management from a time-consuming nightmare into a smooth and powerful tool. The system ensures that legal obligations are met, data is accurately recorded and kept, and communication between you and contractors is kept up to date in case of any last minute changes. LinkSafe offers the solution to any and all contractor management problems with powerful software to suit all businesses.

LinkSafe QR Codes and How They’re Used

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One of the most powerful task automation features of the LinkSafe system is the ability to use QR codes to check contractors are compliant and to allow them to sign in on-site.

QR codes can be implemented and displayed at the worksite in many different ways, and the best way to display them can depend on the nature of the site area where they are to be displayed and the permanency of the installation.

QR codes could be used to record when a person checks in to a site, when they check out from the site, to permit or deny access to an area, or to record the commencement or completion of a task.

The most typical use of QR codes is to sign workers in to unmanned sites. They can also be used on any worksite, however. There is no requirement for the site to be unmanned for QR codes to be a practical solution. In fact, using QR codes is usually the best possible solution on any site where attendance needs to be logged or where mission critical tasks need to be tracked.

How QR codes are used on the worksite

Contractors arriving on the site scan QR codes using their own mobile device. This will connect to check the LinkSafe servers and record the check in event. If the QR code is scanned a second time by the same device, this would constitute a check out event.

The same method can be used for tracking the start and end time of a particular task and can also be used to record attendance at meetings or other events where it is important to know how many people are in attendance and who they are.

Because contractors use their own devices, it saves your company from having to spend money providing devices for the purpose.

Best practice to follow and policy considerations

Advantages of LinkSafe

LinkSafe offers the best system for check in, check out, attendance tracking, and site access control. The benefits include:

  • Improved security – nobody can enter the site without a valid QR code scan
  • Better emergency management – you know where each contractor is, and how many people are present, including (if the system has been set up to do this) what specific areas each of them can be found
  • Better site auditing – having accurate data of who is present in which areas and at what times is helpful in investigations, as well as detecting problematic conditions such as people working excess hours in occupations where there are legal mandates prohibiting this (e.g. Air Traffic Controllers).
  • Simplified compliance management – LinkSafe allows you to store all the legal compliance data (insurance status, qualifications, licenses, site induction completion, etc.) for every contractor, so you can quickly access information and receive notifications of impending problems before they occur.
  • Comprehensive reporting – you can generate a flexible range of custom reports to suit any business reporting need related to site management.

To find out how you can bring these benefits to your company, talk to a LinkSave representative.

To find out more about how you can bring these benefits to you LinkSafe, talk to a LinkSafe consultant today.

Protection of Data in LinkSafe

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LinkSafe is designed from the ground up as a secure system, but no system has ever been devised that is completely invulnerable from attack. The practices outlined below are not only good procedures to follow for protecting LinkSafe but can be applied in general to any kind of IT system that requires keeping data protected.

Password policies and user permissions

Any experienced IT administrator will confirm that most users prefer the shortest, simplest passwords they can get away with. This unfortunately resulted in the creation of a widespread practice of requiring passwords to be complex, because those simple passwords are amazingly easy to crack.

The factors in play here are that the ordinary users want convenience, while the IT administrators want security. The IT administrators have the upper hand, because they can set policies that force the users to conform with the standards set by the administrators.

This creates a massive problem because many users are unable to remember complex passwords without writing them down, and the writing down a complex password renders that password insecure.

Smart users don’t write down their passwords but may more easily forget them. Forgotten passwords lead to lost time and decreased productivity. It’s a losing situation all round, and one that places your business in an unnecessary risk position.

Password complexity may have been somewhat helpful in the distant past when computing power was very low, but in modern times a credit card sized computer can crack short complex passwords in a matter of hours, and often even less time.

Most password policies require the password to be at least 6 characters in length, contain at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter, at least one number, and possibly also a special character such as a punctuation symbol. This is something like the IT administrator hopes the user will choose:

r&E6qwGg

But what the users will probably choose is something like:

Pass123!

Or:

Asdf123!

The reason is that these latter two examples are much easier to remember than the “administrator approved” example. They’re also much easier to crack, but what the administrator may not realize is that the complex password is only minimally more difficult to crack.

The letters in the typical password are likely to be either forming a common word, a person’s name, or something easy to type (keyboard proximity bias).

This knowledge means about 75 percent or more of most passwords are extremely easy to crack because cracking algorithms can be programmed to try the simplest combinations first, before moving on to brute force methods. A user with the password Jenny-23 may as well not bother having a password at all.

Even worse, many administrators limit the password length to between 6 and 8 characters in a forlorn attempt to prevent users from forgetting their complex passwords.

This is hopeless because modern computers can make slightly under 600,000 guesses per second, so with a decent botnet at our disposal, any 8 character password can be cracked in less than half a day unless you allow extended characters (UTF8 or UTF16), which most systems do not allow. If we instruct our cracking program to use the GPU instead of the CPU for cracking, it will get the job done about 100 times faster.

A sensible modern password policy does not call for complexity but length. Therefore the best password policy calls for at least 12 and preferably 15+ characters, composed in a way that is meaningful and memorable to the user.

The phrase:

Icouldjustfancysomecheese,Gromit!

Is a far more secure password than:

r&E6qwGg

It’s also going to create fewer security problems than:

r&E6qwGggGwq6E&rs*F7rxHhhHxr7

The simple, plain English password is better because it is long enough and complex enough to be difficult to crack (several lifetimes, even with the most powerful computers on Earth) and it’s unlikely to be forgotten. If the user knows a foreign language, that can push the guessing difficulty up even higher, for example:

Podriagustarmeunpocodequeso,Gromit!

Such moves will even defeat social engineering that could improve the chances of guessing a password based on a user’s personality.

User permissions are even easier to handle. Each user should only have permissions up to the limit of their area of responsibility. By creating Group Policies in the operating system, you can easily group users according to their roles, and set appropriate permissions automatically by assigning users to the correct group.

Physical security at the data centre

The importance of physical security is often ignored, because people don’t believe an attacker would have the audacity to attempt to circumvent security in person.

If you are included in the group of non-believers, then you also won’t believe that your own employees are the biggest threat to the security of your IT systems, but indeed they are.

Internal threats are a serious and growing problem, along with corporate espionage and sabotage. Physical security is important, and you can implement it easily.

Workstations can have unnecessary ports disabled, optical drives disabled or removed, and the computer case locked and physically secured to the work area so it can’t be carried away.

At the software level, drives can be encrypted, and of course data should always be backed up to at least three separate secure physical locations.

Server rooms should be securely locked and only accessible by authorized IT staff. Access to the server rooms should be logged electronically, and the servers themselves should be under direct CCTV surveillance so that suspicious access can be noticed.

Access and change histories

Keeping logs of “who does what” on your system can be helpful in many ways. This will help you recover more quickly from some types of malicious activities, and makes it easier to roll back to a point where the system was free of trouble.

Being able to isolate which individuals had access at certain times and what actions they performed can provide evidence in subsequent investigations.

LinkSafe is inherently secure

We designed LinkSafe with a lot of built-in security features to make it easy to administrate. Even so, taking sensible precautions is a good idea, because you can never be too careful when it comes to IT security.

To find out more about how LinkSafe can be an asset to your business, get in touch with a member of our team today.

To find out more about how LinkSafe can be an asset to yness, get in touch with a LinkSafe consultant today.

Incident management: How to train your staff to deal with incidents

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No matter what industry you’re in, there will come a time where your staff will come face-to-face with a challenging incident. Whether it’s a workplace injury, a serious safety hazard like a fire or flood, or a threat or assault, your employees and contractors need to have the training to properly handle any incidents they might face while on the job.

The type of incident your team is likely to face will vary depending on your industry, but here are a few general guidelines on how to train your staff to deal with incidents so they feel prepared to handle anything that happens on the job calmly and correctly: Read More

Best practices for volunteer induction & training: how to make the process easier and more efficient

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If your company utilizes volunteers, the volunteer induction and training process is crucial. It’s an opportunity for you to connect with your volunteers, get them on board with your organization and mission, and ensure they have everything they need to be successful in their roles.

A positive induction and training process that’s fun, organized, and educational will get your volunteers excited and committed to your project, while a boring, disorganized, or uninformative process can lead to volunteers leaving your program in droves.

But how do you create a positive volunteer induction and training process? What is the best practice for training your volunteers in a way that gets them excited to partner with you? Read More

Get With It – Modern Safety Training Challenges & Solutions

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Every company strives to provide a safe working environment for their employees. After all, the least that employees should expect when they clock in for work is to conduct their duties in a safe environment.

To ensure effective hazard management and regulatory compliance, safety training sessions form a key part of company safety initiatives. Providing employees with the knowledge and tools to carry out their work in a safe manner is imperative to promoting a positive safety culture. However, sometimes safety training doesn’t go all that smoothly and can fall flat with contributing to your safety goals.

The world of work is consistently evolving, and so too does your safety training procedures and formats. Following the same legacy safety training processes that you have done for the last decade simply won’t cut it. Your safety training sessions need to be consistently revisited. In today’s modern world, there are more challenges than ever to overcome to design and deliver effective safety training.

Workplace Diversity

Across the workplace will be workers from various backgrounds. Some will be more educated than others, some may not speak English as their first language, some may struggle with accents and dialects, others will have differing religious and spiritual beliefs, some will have families. Safety training needs to consider all of these various aspects.

Holding training sessions after work or at the weekends might seem like a great idea, but will be a huge struggle for those with families. If you have to hold your training sessions outside working hours, make the content available remotely so that if workers with families cannot attend they can still access the content and materials.

It’s also important to ensure that training materials are available in the first language of all employees and that a translator is hired if needed for live safety training sessions. This prevents any miscommunication or misunderstanding of critical safety issues and ensures all workers can contribute to the sessions.

Not all workers will be WHS savvy and some may struggle with terminology. All safety content should be delivered using “layman’s terms” to cater for the needs of all workers. Complimenting text with graphic depictions of safety procedures can prove helpful here too.

Ever Changing Regulations

All safety training materials and sessions need to be in line with current regulations. Dated materials are a key contributor to compliance issues as workers are misinformed as to the legislation they should be following. As painful as it seems, the best practice is to conduct training sessions and update training materials ahead of the introduction of new regulations.

As soon as regulatory changes are announced, it’s time to take action and get updates to safety training materials scheduled in and training sessions pencilled into everyone’s diary. This prevents any panic with compliance once the regulation is introduced as everyone will be fully prepared.

Different Software Tools for Different Processes

Safety training is difficult if you are using several different software tools and systems for the various safety management and compliance tasks in the workplace. Keeping up to date with features and functionality across all the different tools can prove a nightmare and make delivering safety training sessions incredibly difficult.

This is why the use of integrated safety management software tools like LinkSafe helps ensure more effective safety training delivery. Using just one suite of tools from one provider, training is much more streamlined. In fact, LinkSafe’s own team can assist you with training sessions. Too many cooks spoil the broth so just stick with one suite of safety tools.

Don’t let the challenges of modern safety training deter you from your efforts. Take our tips on board and talk to our expert team if you need further advice. You’ll soon be able to design safety training materials and deliver sessions which fully deliver on your company’s safety needs.

Top 3 hazards in aged care – and how to avoid them

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Working in the aged care industry can be a rewarding and satisfying career choice, but it’s not without its hazards. And if your business is in the aged care industry or you have contractors working on site at aged care facilities, it’s important that you’re aware of those hazards and take extra precautions to protect your workers.

Here are the top three hazards in aged care and how you can avoid them and keep your workers safe: Read More

Contractor Management 101

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Construction, Engineering, Manufacturing, Healthcare, and I.T. – the use of contractors is relevant to many industries. Contractor culture is critical to the success of many projects and companies. The ability to draft in contractors as and when needed makes financial sense, providing an effective way to supplement a company’s resources during busy periods or draft in expertise that isn’t regularly needed. However, the use of contractors in the workplace does prevent safety hazards.

Contract employees are unlikely to have the same familiarity or appreciation of hazards and safety procedures as full-time employees. This poses a significant hazard where a contractor worker such as a doctor, nurse, maintenance worker, hot work engineer, construction worker or IT security engineer is fulfilling a high-risk role.

Regardless of the role they are fulfilling, employers must make it their responsibility to manage contractors effectively and ensure that their employment does not impact the safety culture of the company. Contractor workers should not present new safety hazards in the workplace.

Safety Screening

When hiring contractors, it is important to not only consider their experience and expertise in their area, but their attitude and record with regards to safety. Ask potential contractors about the safety policies and procedures they have followed in previous roles, the hazards they have identified in previous roles and how they dealt with them and their opinion of the role of safety and specific safety legislation in the workplace. Ask their referees about their safety records too. All of this should be done before any contracts have been issued or job offers have been made.

A contractor’s suitability for a role goes beyond their expertise and qualifications. No matter how technically knowledgeable or skilled they are, if they do not have the attitude and commitment to safety that other employees have, they are not the right fit for the role. Featuring a quick safety screening of potential contractors can go a long way to preventing critical safety hazards.

Keep Track of Who is On Site and Whether They Are Compliant

Given that contract workers present a higher safety risk, it’s incredibly important to know when they are on site and that is legislatively compliant for them to work for you. Australian legislation requires companies to be able to provide details on contractors currently employed including their contracts, their site status, their employment expiry date and evidence of any licences, certifications or tickets they have required to hold to perform their duties.

If contractor hires are critical to your business, you need to roll out the use of contractor management software. Such software tools enable you to keep a close eye on contractor performance and ensure that everyone on site is fully compliant.

They can immediately flag and issues notices for contractors to renew certifications, tickets etc. well in advance of expiry dates so there is no excuses for them to be non-compliant. In the event of an audit, senior management can simply open up their contractor management tool and immediately demonstrate evidence for all employed contractors to external auditors.

Training Remains Imperative

All contractor workers should receive the same safety training as permanent employees before commencing employment. They too should be tested on their safety knowledge before beginning their duties and their safety knowledge should be regularly reviewed throughout their contract period.

Although their contract terms may differ from permanent employees, their contribution to workplace safety is the same so they need to have the same knowledge and understanding of the safety policies and procedures of the company as permanent workers. You must work together with your contractors to help them to build the required safety knowledge to fulfil the role.

Working together is key to effective contractor management. With the right procedures and tools in place, any contractors that you hire can become an immediate asset to your company rather than a safety hazard.

 

 

Training is more than just a signature of completion: Checking competency

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Effective training of employees and contractors is about more than just signing off on a certification of completion. In order to get the most out of training and protect yourself, your company, and your team, it’s important that every person who goes through your training has a thorough understanding of what they’ve learned.

Checking competency is a critical part of the training process. If you’re not making sure that every person who goes through employee induction training understands the content, you’re putting yourself at risk for workplace accidents, poor work performance, and an overall negative experience.

Here are a few tips for checking competency throughout the training process that will help you assess the competency level of your trainees and make sure they fully understand what they’ve read: Read More