Ultimately, the responsibility for providing a safe workplace falls on the shoulders of employers. But your vendor should be there alongside you to help support this mission. And they should be committed to this task — not just your pocketbook.
A safety solutions vendor should be an asset to trust and lean on throughout your efforts to safeguard your employees. Too often, however, vendors are simply very good salesmen, and not such great allies.
Does your current safety vendor keep in touch, or do you only have a “call-for-an-order” type of relationship? Think about your last safety purchase. Did the vendor follow up to ensure everything arrived okay, that the installation went as planned, and that the solutions met your needs? Did they send somebody to your site to verify that the equipment was set up properly and yielded the safety increase it was meant to provide?
In the world of safety, you cannot afford to have vendors who are in business strictly for themselves. You need a partner who truly wants to keep your employees safe. If a phone call after the sale is too much to ask, how well will they stand beside you when you need them?
Every company says that its products are the best in the business. Those that truly believe this stand behind their products and offer quality customer service. In addition to providing products that are made to the exacting standards required in your industry, they provide the right products for you. After all, having a top-quality safety cage when you really needed a ramp doesn’t do much good. Nor does having an exceptional gangway if it doesn’t fit in your location.
When choosing a safety vendor, make sure that they not only have experience in the industry and a great reputation but that they’re also able to customize their solutions to meet your specific need. This entails more than custom forms. Do they know the right questions to ask? Did the vendor send somebody out to do a site analysis? Did they ask for pictures or discuss possible problems? Did you have a talk about any future changes or expansions that may alter your requirements?
Even if you purchase the right products, you could still lose money if they aren’t meeting your long-term requirements or they conflict with the equipment you already have in place. Together, you should form a plan to integrate new products into your current processes, equipment and workflow. In short, your vendor should take the time to work with you on a plan of action that will best protect your employees, as well as your bottom line.
The best products and safety solutions are not beneficial to you or your employees if they are sitting on a ship or in a loading yard. Can your vendor produce the required safety equipment within reasonable timelines? Do their shipping and handling protocols leave you feeling like an unwelcome houseguest instead of a valued partner?
The best vendors. know that every step in the relationship, from the initial contact all the way through delivery, installation, brand beyond, is just as important as the step before and after it.
Product and Industry Updates
With so many different agencies regulating industries nowadays, it is hard to keep up with all of the changes and requirements. Does your vendor help you stay up to speed on the changes in your industry? When OSHA changes the requirement for fall protection, do you get a call to make sure you’re aware and have the updated equipment and materials? When the DOT makes changes in rail car safety and signage, does your vendor make certain you’re covered?
Beyond this, does your vendor seem to genuinely want to create a culture of safety at your site, or do they just want to sell you materials that “meet OSHA standards”? When your vendor offers you solutions that are creative, innovative and go beyond the obvious plug-and-play solutions, you might have found your ideal safety partner.
After all, partnering with a safety solutions provider should not be like shopping at a box store. There are no one-size-fits-all safety solutions. When your vendor takes the time to identify your specific needs, customize products and orders to meet those needs, and then follow up on your order, you get the peace of mind that comes from knowing your employees are properly protected.