As more and more large companies require the services and products of small businesses, we have seen a substantial growth in the use of ISNetworld®. ISNetworld® is a company that offers verification services for what they call “owner-clients” (the people you want to do business with) and suppliers (your company). The organization reviews documents for specific requirements and issues a report card called the “Dashboard Grade” to the owner-client. This Dashboard Grade is extremely important because that is really what is meant by ISNetworld® compliance. The following tips and advice will guide the beginner on how to work towards getting compliant with ISNetworld®.
Prepare by gathering your company documents together. That is, you’ll need OSHA 300 and 300A forms, experience modification rating (EMR) letters from your workers’ compensation, employee hours worked including overtime, and the average number of employees–all for the last three years. This information will really assist in the startup process since it will be readily available to you.
Identify your NAICS number from one of the documents you have gathered. Be sure to input this into your company profile as accurately as possible. ISNetworld® will ask that you identify your industry type and, although imperfect, you will have to identify the industry that most closely suits the work your company performs. This is an extremely important task because getting this wrong could mean that your company will be subject to irrelevant employee safety training and/or written safety programs. My advice: Get this right from the start!
MSQ (Management Safety Questionnaire)
The MSQTM questionnaire is a very important next step towards achieving ISNetworld® compliance. Prepare to take some time to complete the MSQTM because this process can sometimes take a few hours depending upon what information is being requested. There are really two categories of MSQTM questionnaires that you need to know about. The first is just the General or United States type, which is the basic information about your company. You’ll be asked to input data about your company such as what personal protective equipment is required by employees and some other questions about your general policies. Be sure to answer every question truthfully and as accurately as possible. The second type of MSQTM is going to be owner-client specific. More to the point, some owner-clients have devised their very own MSQTM questionnaire for you to complete, but don’t worry, these are usually very specific and can be completed in about 30 minutes or less.
HINT: Make sure that the information you input into the MSQTM matches the documents you gathered in the beginning. Discrepancies will be noticed by ISNetworld® and they will ask that these be resolved. Save yourself some time and get this right the first time!
What is an I-RAVS®? Many people ask that question and it’s just ISNetworld® lingo for insurance (I) review and verification services (RAVS®). This section pertains to your company’s professional liability insurance. Each owner-client will have specific and required insurance coverages that they want your company to carry. Owner-clients use ISNetworld® to review these certificates for accuracy and to ensure that every requirement is met. Don’t mess around here. The team at ISNetworld® looking over these certificates will go over them with a fine tooth comb and if the exact verbiage is not on the insurance certificate…you best believe it’s getting rejected!
So, the process is really simple. You need to call or email your insurance broker. Print or save a copy of the insurance requirements for each owner-client. Pay special attention to the word “required” and make sure that your insurance broker meets every “required” coverage type (i.e. umbrella, excess, general comp., etc.). Other setbacks are usually related to clauses like the cancellation policy. For example, if the requirements mandate a written 30 days notice policy on cancellation, this had better be on the insurance certificate or it will be rejected. Make sure that the address on the owner-client requirements matches the certificate or that will be another reason ISNetworld® will reject the document. One of the most common reasons for insurance certificate rejection by ISNetworld® has to do with verbiage, which must be verbatim. We’re not kidding about that either. See the example below of a standard insurance requirement:
- A Waiver of Subrogation must be listed in favor of “[Insert Owner-Client here], it’s Indemnified Parties as defined in the master service agreement, and each of their respective insurers” on all policies as required by Written Contract.
Many insurance brokers would simply check the Waiver of Subrogration box on the certificate and call it good. But…this won’t be acceptable. The waiver of subrogation, in this example, has specific verbiage that must be verbatim on the insurance certificate. Otherwise, look to repeat this process until it’s satisfactory.
Once you have a satisfactory professional liability insurance certificate in hand, you’re not done yet. Your company will still have to submit valid proof of workers’ compensation insurance in addition to the professional liability insurance certificate. If your company is working in Wyoming, North Dakota, Ohio, or Washington, then your company is operating in a monopolistic State. Workers’ compensation in most States is an open market economy and companies can shop around for the best rates. However, in monopolistic States, workers’ compensation is offered only through the State.
Why is this information important? Well, say you’re taking advantage of the oil and gas boom in North Dakota and you have employees working throughout the State. Your company will have established a workers’ compensation tax nexus in North Dakota and will have to, by law, pay the State of North Dakota for offering workers’ compensation insurance benefits to your employees who work in that State. As such, a certificate of good standing must be requested from the State and submitted to ISNetworld® along with your professional liability insurance coverage.
Occasionally, we see companies self-insured for workers’ compensation and, in this case, there must be a valid certificate of self-insured status from the State in which the company is operating in and this would be submitted in addition to the professional liability insurance certificate. Expect ISNetworld® to take three to seven days to review these documents.
The experience modification rating (EMR) letters are issued on an annual basis by the agency handling your company’s workers’ compensation. There’s not a whole to this except that these letters must be submitted in the appropriate EMR dropbox for the previous three years. Most rejected EMR letters stem from submissions outside the desired effective dates. For example, a 2012 EMR effective date may begin from November 1, 2011 to October 31, 2012. So, in this example, if the date is November 2, 2012, that EMR letter would be outdated for 2012 and would be rejected. This the most common error regarding the EMR. EMR letters are usually reviewed by ISNetworld® within a week.
OSHA 300 Forms
The OSHA 300 forms are also quite simple in terms of what is needed. The biggest setback we see here is that many companies have not met this OSHA mandatory recordkeeping requirement and have to draft these documents post hoc. At any rate, these documents must be filled out correctly. Pay special attention to the year in the upper right hand corner of the OSHA 300 forms and make sure that the appropriate year is filled in. We honestly miss that sometimes too! ISNetworld® will reject the document if there are any missing sections, so be sure to accurately and correctly fill out the information. Also, be sure to remain consistent with what has been inputted into the MSQTM questionnaire because if you’re not, you will have to go in and rectify those discrepancies. Like the EMR process, you can expect about a week or so for ISNetworld® to review the OSHA 300 forms.
Different owner-clients will require a certain amount of written safety programs. Some owner-clients won’t require any, while others will ask you to have safety programs that don’t even apply to your company. Frequently, we see engineering companies are asked to have a Process Safety Management written program from the Title 29 CFR Part 1910.119 regulations despite the fact that these standards don’t apply to every engineering company. (NOTE: If this happened to your company, submit a “variance request”.)
The purpose of this article is not to delineate every single safety program in the ISNetworld® queue because that would be ridiculous since there are hundreds. Rather, we will show you how to write these written safety policies and will outline how to maintain the ISNetworld® requirements for compliance.
Each written safety program will have predetermined, required components. Please see the required components of the ISNetworld® Hazard Communication below:
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(h) standard on employee training
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(e)(1) standard on written hazard communication program requirements
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(e)(1)(i) standard on listing all chemicals used in the workplace
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(e)(1)(ii) standard on non-routine tasks and associated chemicals
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(e)(2), (e)(4), & (e)(5) standards on multiple job sites
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(f)(8) standard on chemical labeling
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(g)(1) standard on material safety data sheets
- The program must meet the 1910.1200(g)(8) standard on the availability of material safety data sheets to employees
So, clearly you can see how each ISNetworld® safety program requires certain provisions to be included in the document. Please note that not all of these written safety programs will be regulatory in nature as some will be owner-client specific, but you get the point. When these requirements are listed as such, your written safety program must contain each provision to be ISNetworld® compliant. Now, if you have your policies in place already, simply review them for the clauses and amend them as needed. If you don’t have these written policies, use the ISNetworld® provided guidelines and start writing away.
There are some companies online that offer downloadable safety programs that meet the ISNetworld® requirements. However, we don’t recommend that your entire safety program be modeled after boiler-plate safety policies. Remember, employees should be aware of the company’s safety policies and are entitled to a copy. The boiler-plate programs are largely inadequate to meet many requirements outside of ISNetworld®, especially training requirements. Please be beware.
Once you have written or compiled your safety programs required by all owner-clients, then ISNetworld® will need about three weeks or so to review them all. If you have missed a requirement, ISNetworld® will deduct a percentage from your score (e.g. 75%). However, if you follow the ISNetworld® guidelines and ensure that every required component is contained somewhere in the program, your company will most likely see 100% compliance on the safety program RAVS® section.
Now, T-RAVS® is reserved for the employee training that your organization must conduct (or have conducted) by owner-client requirements. ISNetworld® does not conduct any training, but merely reviews training records to ensure compliance with the associated requirements. Training records are simple to maintain and keep once the training is conducted. Your company can have employees attend formal training or the training can be conducted in-house–it really doesn’t matter how, it matters that it was done. Here’s what ISNetworld® will require for an acceptable training record submission and for compliance:
- Date of training
- Signature of employees in attendance
- Subject matter of training or type of training
- Signature of trainer
Training records are usually reviewed by ISNetworld® staff within a week or so.
Be prepared to meet some miscellaneous requirements from time to time. Examples include site tracker requirements, site identification cards, contractor documents that must be signed, etc. These requirements do not really hold much weight on your overall dashboard grade, but then again, they don’t generally require too much effort to complete either. We recommend that you complete all miscellaneous requirements as needed. ISNetworld® will usually review this stuff within a few days.
Overview and Summary
So, now that you understand that there is a lot more to ISNetworld® compliance than what you previously thought, be aware of those organizations offering overnight or prompt ISNetworld® compliance because it doesn’t happen that quickly. Firstly, ISNetworld® needs a certain amount of time to review the documents you’re going to be submitting and this will vary with what the documents are. Safety programs will take three weeks on average, but possibly more time than that if there are many programs to review. Remember that all of your files must be submitted as scanned .pdf documents or you can save your Word documents as that file type.
Once your company has earned the ISNetworld® stamp of approval noted by the dashboard grade, the account will need to be updated every quarter or when you acquire a new owner-client on the account. Good luck and remember that safety is more about people and less about liability!
Markus Wesaw is in no way endorsed, sponsored, approved by, or otherwise affiliated with ISNetworld®. ISNetworld®, ISN®, ISNetworld®, and RAVS® are registered trademarks of ISN Software Corporation.