Veriforce, an end-to-end supply chain risk and compliance management solution provider, is looking to make the U.S. tower industry a safer place to work. The company also helps companies operate more safely in other high-risk industries, such as oil & gas, utilities, construction and manufacturing.
With its business in Canada already mature, Veriforce intends to expand its client base in the United States. In particular, it is targeting the labor force used by the tower industry deploying 5G as it grows from 30,000 up to 50,000 tower workers, according to Jeff Muto, Veriforce’s chief marketing and strategy officer.
“We look at where the risk is,” Muto said. “Do the workers doing the work have the competency to do the work they’re hired to do? Can they do that safely without hurting themselves or the people around them? Ensuring that all of these new workers are ready and ready to do great work safely is incredibly important.”
In 2019, Texas-based Veriforce was acquired by Louisiana-based PEC Premier Safety Operations, which then purchased Canada-based ComplyWorks in August 2020, creating a supply chain risk performance network comprising more than 800 hiring clients, more than 50,000 contracting companies, 9,000 accredited safety trainers and authorized evaluators and 2.5 million workers.
Veriforce uses software to centralize and streamline compliance management. It provides data, analysis and reporting to qualify contractors for work. Artificial intelligence is used to help companies with a predictive safety tool. Certified competency evaluators and safety instructors work with contractors to correct gaps in safety programs. Additionally, clients are given help with streamlining the pre-qualification and hiring process.
Informed Hiring Decisions
At a company level, officials need to know the health and safety record of a contracting firm before they hire it for a specific project. Qualifying criteria, such as safety programs, OSHA statistics and insurance coverage, top their list of items to make an informed decision.
“Show me your historical performance from a health and safety perspective for your company,” Muto said. “Show me that you have the insurance coverage as required for this project. Show me whatever else it is that is a requirement to work as a contractor or subcontractor for this company.”
Where companies are falling short of the requirements, carriers can help get them to where they need to be to ensure that good-quality, safe work is being performed.
At a worker level, a contract services firm wants to make sure that workers it is hiring and bringing onto its sites know how to do their work and that they know how to do their work safely.
“We work with the individual technicians to ensure that everyone knows what the expectations are and then determine whether or not those expectations are being met, so we can create safer, more sustainable work environments,” Muto said.
A Transparent Supply Chain
To remove the opacity of the supply chain, Veriforce ties four elements together in its database, including information about the hiring company, the contractor firm (or subcontractor), the worker and the location of the work.
“Unless you have all four elements, it doesn’t actually work,” Muto said. “The hiring company can know about the company’s safety programs and historical OSHA statistics, but unless it knows that the worker on the tower has gone through the safety program and that the safety incidents that occurred in the past were not associated to this worker or this crew, it all breaks down.”
One of Veriforce’s Canadian telecom clients works with 2,600 contract services firms. “The carrier is working with those firms every day,” Muto said. “All of those workers are flowing through that theater of operation, but sometimes with a different employer than the day before. Not only is this one company working with all these firms, but the requirements for each of the workers from each of those firms can be unique. There are also universal requirements.
“How is someone going to operationalize ensuring that every worker in this transient workforce is, in fact, credentialled? It all gets very complex. Getting that done without advanced technology is virtually impossible.”
Making the Tower Industry Safer
With industries, such as telecom, that rely on general contractors and levels of subcontractors, it can be difficult for a carrier or tower company to know who’s working on behalf of them or their qualifications, whether it is a company or a worker. That’s what Veriforce’s business model is all about — to make the tower industry safer.
“We’re a company that partners with industry that typically has two big attributes: one is a lot of high-risk work in their environments, and two, a heavy bias toward outsourcing service partners,” Muto said. “Our model is to sit between the hiring client and their partner network to enable collaboration around best practices associated with risk management. That happens both at the company level and at the individual worker level.”
Veriforce is exploring a relationship with the National Wireless Safety Alliance, which conducts testing of tower workers to provide verifiable worker certification to enhance safety.
“We view ourselves as something that complements a program such as NWSA,” Muto said. “Our technology platform allows credentials to be ascertained on a mobile basis. When a worker shows up on a site, the employer can double-check any number of credentials — for example, anti-harassment training, worker competency and training history. There’s a tremendous amount of information that you need to know about a worker.”
Veriforce will be engaging with the wireless carriers, tower companies and comm-infra contractors to enable them to have the information that they require, at any point in time, relative to the qualifications of the companies that they’ve hired or workforce those companies are bringing into the theater of operations, Muto said.