Workforce Safety Starts Before Day One with a Reliable Background Screening Program

May 10th, 2024

As an industry that deals with heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and heights, prioritizing safety is not just a choice but a necessity. In 2022, approximately 1,056 US construction professionals died while at work, surpassing fatalities in any other industry sector. With Construction Safety Week coming up, many construction companies will be hosting safety events, conducting training sessions, and doing all they can to ensure their team members are empowered to help eliminate potential on-site incidents.

While companies will spend Construction Safety Week preparing their current workforce for these safety initiatives, building the foundation of creating a safe working environment starts well before an individual is hired. Success in the construction industry requires teamwork, and to build a successful team, companies need to know exactly who they’re hiring.

A thorough background check does more than just check off boxes. A robust and compliance-focused background screening program can safeguard employees, the company, and the greater community.

Gain Full Visibility When Hiring

Conducting a background check serves as the first line of defense in promoting workplace safety. Given that employees are handling sensitive and potentially dangerous equipment, it’s essential for construction businesses to validate that candidates possess the qualifications, skills, and training to perform their job safely and effectively. These all can be verified by conducting a thorough background check.

Background checks can also reveal a candidate’s past incidents or infractions which could pose a risk to workplace safety. These concerning factors could include a history of workplace accidents, substance abuse, or criminal offenses. Fortunately, learning this information can empower companies to make better-informed decisions about prospective employees, reducing potential risk before they can become safety liabilities.

Going a step further, incorporating an identity verification step early in the hiring process can help HR teams conduct a more accurate search with the validated identity information. It’s a common misconception that identity is verified during background checks when in reality, background checks are often dependent on candidates providing accurate data. Unfortunately, accidental (or intentional) errors can go undetected and lead to incorrect background check results, delaying not only the hiring process, but exposing the chance of potentially hiring someone who can pose a risk to the organization. An identity verification solution integrated into a background check process can verify candidate identity remotely, detect potential identity fraud, and improve time-to-hire. By taking this important first step in verifying a candidate’s identity, companies can show they’re fully dedicated to providing a safer workplace.

Safeguard Workers Amid Regulatory Changes

As a regulated industry, construction companies need to follow the regulations and standards laid out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as additional state and local laws. Maintaining compliance is not only critical to establishing workplace safety, but also to protect the company from liabilities and fines.

Although jobsite project managers are responsible for ensuring the day-to-day safety of workers on projects, HR teams have the responsibility of staying on top of new and changing laws and regulations. A robust background check program can help construction companies comply with regulatory compliance at every stage of the hiring process, from verifying licenses and certifications to adhering to safety protocols.

Construction companies also operate in today’s era of blended workforces where leveraging contract workers has become the norm. While not full-time employees, contract workers still require the qualifications and skills needed to safely complete their project. A background check program that can accommodate contract workers can further maintain and protect both your employees and your company.

Enhance the Onboarding Process

With the ongoing worker shortage in the construction industry, companies are seeking ways to better position themselves as a great place to work in order to successfully compete for top talent. Having an effective onboarding process sets the right tone for an employee’s tenure within an organization. In a recent Sterling report, ‘HR’s Guide to Onboarding,’ 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after having had a great onboarding experience.

A new hire’s first day can be hectic: not just for the candidate, but for HR teams and hiring managers involved in onboarding. By having an onboarding plan that includes a reliable background check, safety training and orientations, and a clear roadmap on what the new hire can expect during their first 30 days, companies can create an environment deeply rooted in safety. And the benefits extend beyond employee well-being. An effective onboarding process can impact legal compliance, workforce productivity, turnover, and operational costs too.

Designing Safety into Daily Operations

In the construction industry, every decision matters in ensuring safety of the workplace. A reliable background check program shouldn’t be an afterthought – it’s an essential investment to the overall well-being and success of the company. By vetting candidates thoroughly, ensuring regulatory adherence, and enhancing the onboarding process, construction companies can continue their efforts in creating a safer, more productive workplace environment.

About the Author

Val Poltorak is the Head of Sterling’s US Regulated Industries group, where she holds strategic and operational responsibility in working with Construction, Manufacturing, Transportation, Energy, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Government, Education, and Nonprofit practice areas of the business. Val joined Sterling in 2017 and previously held the position of General Manager of the Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice Area.

Prior to Sterling, Val was the Global Head of Client Success and Chief Operating Officer at Bloomberg LP. She has extensive experience in client success, SaaS technology, and product management. Val holds a BS degree from Stony Brook University and a master’s degree in finance from Rutgers Business School.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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