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Prequalify Subcontractors Good Practice for General Contractors

An experienced construction safety director discusses methods for prequalifying subcontractors.


Establishing a strong safety process is integral to protecting construction workers. However, subcontractors can often be the weakest link in the chain.

Richard S. Baldwin, CSP, corporate safety director for BE&K Engineering and Construction Co., Birmingham, Ala., identified and discussed methods for prequalifying subcontractors at the American Society of Safety Engineers'' Conference yesterday in Orlando.

Baldwin said that it is a good idea to prequalify contractors because it reduces profits, accidents result in product delays, third party lawsuits and OSHA citations. However, there is an even more obvious reason. "You can''t afford to send these guys home," said Baldwin. "You can''t afford a mistake."

Before prequalifying contractors, Baldwin suggested doing the following things:

  • Hold a prebid meeting to make sure the subcontractor know the requirements of the job.
  • Provide a scope of the work.
  • Give them a copy of the contract.
  • Specify requirements in the contract. (For example, let them know of any company or client peculiar requirements, OSHA requirements and a the need for a safety program if applicable).

Other factors to consider when hiring a subcontractor:

  • their financial status,
  • location of the main office, (if it is close, more supervisors and safety support is easily at hand).
  • past performance with your company,
  • VPP involvement, and
  • participation in industry groups.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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