When we think about safety in the construction industry, we tend to focus on the physical environment of the jobsite and the potential for injury created by the use of tools and heavy equipment. But developing a safety-focused culture starts with knowing whom you bring onboard and entrust with access to your employees, clients and hard-earned reputation. Are they who they claim to be, with the background and qualifications you expect?
Even in today’s tight labor market, the pressure to hire rapidly does not justify cutting corners. Instead, construction companies need background-screening processes that enable quick, efficient and thorough vetting of new hires.
TECHNOLOGY AND EFFICIENCY
Background screening has evolved significantly in recent years, embracing digital transformation to support comprehensive, in-depth and timely pre-employment checks. In the past, for example, criminal records checks required physical presence at a courthouse, while today, digital access in many cases eliminates the need for court runners and dramatically reduces the time to complete a check.
Even before record checks, technology helps focus the search on the right person in the right jurisdictions. These technology-enabled processes shrink turnaround times, allowing background screeners to complete up to 90% of criminal searches within a single day—with individual components taking well under a day, including an average of 0.34 days for county criminal, 0.47 days for state criminal and 0.03 days for U.S. Department of Justice sex-offender checks.
COVID-19, CONTRACTS AND CONSISTENCY
Flexibility and resilience have become a common refrain as construction companies continue to navigate the disruptions of a global pandemic, including labor shortages, splintered supply chains and health and safety concerns. Not only do companies need to fill positions restored or created as the economy bounces back, but they increasingly need to backfill skilled positions opening as a result of the “Great Resignation.” A scalable background-screening program offers flexibility, whether you’re competing for in-demand, skilled candidates for critical roles or expanding your contingent workforce to meet seasonal or project-based needs.
The key is to be consistent in every part of your applicant experience. While you might not be inclined to invest the same effort in screening contract employees as you do permanent hires, for example, often the two groups work shoulder-to-shoulder, and working to determine that temporary workers have the right skills and background is critical for helping to improve both overall success and safety. You can help mitigate risks by applying the same background-screening process for permanent, contract and contingent workers, including these best practices:
- Choose a background-screening partner with expertise in the construction industry. A one-size-fits-all approach may seem efficient, but it can lead to gaps that put safety at risk. Confirming employment eligibility, such as vocational education for select trades, is a critical component of building a diverse, skilled workforce.
- Start with identity verification. Given the ongoing rise in stolen identity cases and data breaches, identity verification helps ensure candidates are who they say they are before you undertake a background check. In addition to reducing the potential for deception, identity verification lessens the likelihood that a typo or missing initial results in an inaccurate or incomplete background check.
- Make drug testing and ongoing occupational health screenings convenient. The right background-screening partner can provide fast turnaround times and mobile scheduling at a network of partner clinics for an easy, streamlined process that puts people first—be it confirming candidates are fit for duty or safeguarding employees from excessive chemical exposure.
THE PANDEMIC, POST-PANDEMIC
As COVID-19 variants prolong the pandemic recovery, construction companies will need to integrate appropriate health and safety processes to keep jobsites running. The mantra is familiar to everyone: vaccination, isolation and testing.
Whether vaccination is optional or mandatory, companies will need to efficiently track vaccination status—which can change over time should additional booster shots be deemed necessary—while also maintaining test-result records. This dovetails perfectly with background screening, which at its core considers available records and helps determine potential gaps.
Safety isn’t an occasional concern or a talking point for an awareness week. Safety is central to how you conduct business and requires flexibility to adapt as conditions change. A successful partnership with a trusted background screener can help check many of your safety boxes, allowing you to focus on other critical needs.
This article first appear on Construction Executive.