How to Create the Perfect Contractor Orientation

03 December 2017

The Perfect Contractor Orientation

Contractor orientations come in many shapes and sizes, but no matter what form, they all have to be carefully planned and calculated. The type of construction site will usually determine the kind of contractor orientation training that should be applied. In the most simple terms, these kinds of training come in a few distinct forms: site-specific orientations, generic orientations, and online contractor orientations. All these types of contractor orientations have their advantages, but for many firms, it’s a balancing act in deciding which will best suit your needs.

Site-Specific Contractor Orientation

Site-specific orientations is a training process that is adapted to meet the needs of a specific construction site. The contractor orientation will generally cover some generic health and safety information, the company’s history, HR and contact information, and the rules and expectations associated with the particular construction project. More precisely, site specific orientation training allows you to tailor information to suit the specific employee needs.

In addition to precise health and safety information being offered, specific information regarding particular workplace health and safety hazards, such as how to work from heights or operate in adverse weather conditions, will also be provided through this orientation. However, site-specific orientations are generally given in small groups or in some cases on an individual basis, making the orientation training a lot more practical and easy to manage.

This approach has many advantages, firstly it cuts back on the amount of information your contract worker is exposed to and ensures that they receive only valuable and relevant information. Secondly, this process can ensure your contract workers are engaged at all times, primarily due to the intimate nature of the training. Finally, the information is designed to deal with a particular issue on site, ensuring that you have the flexibility to reduce any associated risks.

However, there are some disadvantages to this approach that need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, site-specific orientations are time-consuming and can take a considerable amount of time to prepare. Secondly, separate orientations need to be created for each site, and that’s not even taking into account the different roles on site. For instance, an electrical contractor will have to receive a different level of training compared to other specialist contractors. It’s also not practical to give site-specific orientations to large groups of contractors as this would be incredibly costly and time-consuming.

Therefore, this approach requires more complex planning and development of material, as different orientations will need to be run on different sites. There can also be a problem in terms of keeping all of that orientation content fresh and legally compliant, as rules can change quite frequently. Therefore, these type of contractor orientations can quickly become stale, running the risk of providing your contract workers with outdated and inaccurate information.

Generic Contractor Orientation

A generic contractor orientation is one which is prepared for all of your workers. It’s quite common for these orientations to last a whole day, covering a range of topics. Although these types of orientations are usually pre-scheduled and conducted in large groups, they can be conducted in smaller gatherings. Because of the comprehensive nature of these contractor orientations, they are easy to build and update. Generic contractor orientations will often be supplemented by other information that will be directly related to work on the ground.

Although this process works well for broad information, it may not work as well for the occasions where more specific information needs to be imparted. Generic orientations run the risk of ignoring key information, like if a site has a recently discovered risk. For these purposes alone it may be worthwhile looking at an increasingly popular solution, online contractor orientations.

Online Contractor Orientation

An online contractor orientation platform is the easiest way to blend both approaches and conduct your contractor orientations without any hassle. Contract workers can upload documents and pictures, as well as taking site-specific or generic orientation. Online platforms are designed with ease in mind, allowing you to control and curate the training each worker receives. Therefore, you will be able to include only the relevant information required for a particular site, including information on workplace health and safety hazards.

Increased Productivity

Online orientations have the added advantage of being far more flexible than site-specific and generic onboarding systems. Workers are able to do training online, in the comfort of their own homes. Using traditional methods of onboarding, workers have to spend time waiting round to receive training before they can start their job. This can be very inefficient, wasting worker’s time and costing the company’s money. Online orientations mean that contractors are ready to start working the day they arrive on site, their documents processed and recorded, and having received the necessary information on workplace health and safety hazards.

Technology Solutions

Using online contractor orientations also opens up a wide range of possibilities that are enabled by technology. Contractor management was traditionally done using paper spreadsheets, which is expensive, time-consuming and leads to workers slipping through the cracks without having the required documentation or safety training. Online contractor orientations give peace of mind to contractor managers by making this process much more secure. Contractors are required to upload documents and if they don’t then the system will not allow them on site. A features like
identity capture takes photos of contractors to ensure that workers are who they say they are.

Customize training for each worker

Different workers learn in different ways and online contractor orientations are able to be customized to fit the specific needs of a worker. Orientations can include written, audio, video, visual and interactive content so that workers of all different learning skillsets are catered for. Come up with a mental picture of what you think is your typical learner and cater your course to suit their needs. It’s important to know your learners so consider putting short, easy to fill out surveys at the end to get feedback from your workers.


One of the big advantages of contractor orientation is that it makes the process of getting all the contractor’s relevant information and documents a lot easier. Workers should be able to upload their own information, making the process that much more efficient. One issue that is becoming ever more important is cybersecurity. It is vital that worker information is stored securely. By moving the onboarding process online, the security of this information is actually enhanced, as it is relatively simple to properly secure this knowledge using cloud services.

There are many questions to consider when choosing the orientation system that best fits your business. There is not a one size fits all approach to onboarding. Perhaps, a generic system fits the employee needs in your business, especially if all you want to impart is general health and safety information. However, if more specific information relating to a contractor’s role needs to be imparted, like specific hazards to avoid and the exact kind of protective equipment to use, then there will likely need to be a blended approach to orientations. The best solution, in this case, is probably an online contractor management system that is flexible and allows a worker to become familiar with the workplace safety culture inside a company.

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Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at GoContractor with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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