Federal Construction Contract Bidding Process May Soon Include Safety Checklist

A safety and health checklist could become part of the federal construction contract award bidding process if a proposal being drafted by an Occupational Safety and Health Administration advisory panel is adopted.

OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health is looking at a checklist comprising 20 criteria that federal procurement officers would use when determining which companies will be awarded construction contracts.

"We want safety and health to be more of a consideration than it is,” ACCSH Chairman Pete Stafford said at the committee’s May 24 meeting.  Stafford is executive director of the union-affiliated CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

Stafford said he hopes to have a final version of the checklist ready for ACCSH’s next meeting, expected to be held in late August or early September.

If the committee approves the checklist, the document will go to OSHA’s administrator, David Michaels.  From there, Stafford hopes the checklist will eventually find support from the White House and become a presidential directive to federal agencies.

Some federal agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Navy Facilities Engineering Command, already take into account construction companies’ safety records, committee members pointed out.

The newest version of the checklist lists 20 items by which procurement officers would evaluate applicants.  The new checklist has six more questions than the draft checklist presented to the panel Nov. 28 (58 CLR 1205, 12/6/12).

Applicants are scored on each list item, on a scale of one to five points, with five going to responses showing “full compliance.”  “No compliance” would earn one point.

Among the criteria are:

·         The contractor’s OSHA recordable injury rate,

·         Whether the contractor has been cited for a willful violation,

·         Whether the contractor’s foreman and supervisors have completed a 30-hour OSHA course and whether other workers have completed a 10-hour OSHA course,

·         Whether the contractor will develop a site-specific safety program for the project,

·         The safety performance of subcontractors,

·         Whether the contractor have provided evidence that on the past projects workers were encouraged to report hazards, injuries, and near misses without fear or retaliation, and

·         Whether, in previous projects, the contractor and the subcontractors addressed “the needs of a multilingual workforce,” such as offering toolbox talks in Spanish.