January 15, 2018, Minneapolis, Minnesota:

We at Brothers Fire & Security believes that safety is paramount to our success. In fact, our current EMR safety rating is .86, which is amongst the industry’s best.

Like we do, I’m confident that you work hard to ensure that your employees and customers are in a safe, protected environment when it comes to your business. But what about your vendors, such as your monitoring entity, fire and security partner, electricians, roofers, plumbers, and drivers? Outside vendors can have an impact on your business in a both positive and negative ways.

No matter the size of your company or the vendor, it’s smart business to pay close attention to all of your vendor’s safety record. The best way to find that out is through online search results. A one-time search is not enough, though. Some safety reports are only updated annually so ongoing vendor research will serve your business well.

Based on my experience with over 20 years as a leader in the fire and security industry, here’s a list you can use to safety-check your vendors.


  1. Experience Modification Rating (EMR)
    The EMR rating has a strong impact on a business as it’s used by insurance companies to gauge the past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. All companies are required to report all accidents/incidents to the state. Quality ratings for a vendor should 1 or less and are calculated annually. Ratings higher than 1 indicate more incidents, which means they are a higher risk. The lower the EMR, the lower worker compensation insurance premiums will be, which gives you an idea of their safety procedures. Look at the EMR ratings of a company over time to get an accurate reading on safety records.
  2. Safety Training
    A key to make sure Safety is Job #1 is ongoing training. And by training, I mean wearing personal protective equipment, ladder safety, hand and power tool precautions, electrical cord safety, and vehicle safety.

    On-the-job safety training isn’t just a one-time HR lecture during new employee training. Weekly safety meetings with the foreman—what I call Tool Box Talks—should be held on jobsites. Employees should also keep up-to-date on safety procedures, such as working with hazardous materials, proper lock-out / tag-out procedures, confined space training and emergency evacuation training.
  3. Silica Exposure
    This is kind of a new point of emphasis with OSHA. You may not be currently aware of the silica exposure issue, but it’s important to be on your radar. It will impact how you, your employees and your vendors conduct work.

    It only takes a small amount of the very fine silica dust to create a health hazard. Blasting, cutting, chipping, drilling and grinding materials that contain silica can result in dust that is potentially dangerous for construction workers and others to breathe.

    Questions to ask vendors include:

    • Does your vendor wear masks?
    • Are all employees protected?
    • Are dust collection systems in place to capture dust correctly?
  4. Ladder Safety
    Here are some sobering statistics. Forty-three percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder. Among workers, approximately 20 percent of fall injuries involved ladders, and an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries from a ladder were construction workers.

    Ask the vendor about their ladder safety and training, such as inspections before each use by each user; and knowing the proper way to set up, climb, and stand on a ladder.
  5. Back Issues
    Stretching exercises and warming up aren’t just prep for a workout at the gym or running. Exercises prepare a worker’s body, which prevents back injury. Find out if the vendor teaches exercise and proper lifting techniques and that they are used on the jobsite.
  6. Driving Safety
    Are safe driving practices in place to prevent accidents, such as following posted speed limits, maintaining proper following distance, and a no texting while driving policy? Is the company phone number listed clearly on the vehicles to report potentially unsafe driving behavior as part of a safe driving policy.
  7. Emergency Action Plan, Reporting Process
    In the worse-case scenario—worker injury, property damage, hazardous material—does the vendor have an emergency plan in place? How do they deal with workplace injuries, both prevention and action? Are restricted duty plans followed for employees? Check out their injury and incident reporting process.

    Does the vendor emergency action plan differential plan normal accidents and potential catastrophic situation. Do the procedures match the level of hazard?

    You can see why going these extra steps to research vendor safety is important. It’s important to make sure that your company is served by qualified vendors who pay attention to safety to ensure your own employees work safely, your customers are safe, and your reputation is protected.
    As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods.