“Dear [company] Contractor,
We are pleased to announce [company] Inc. has recently established a business relationship with ISN® (www.isn.com). Effective immediately, ISNetworld® will begin serving as [company]’s primary contractor information management system. As a result of this action, contractors performing services for [company] are required to become subscribers to ISNetworld®.”
How To Respond to The ISN® Notice Letter
If you received this type of notice from ISNetworld® and are unsure how to respond, rest assured knowing you are not alone. Many companies come to Blakeman seeking interpretation and guidance regarding the ISN® action notice (usually 60 days notice) and we have successfully aided these companies for years. Our clients often express confusion or anxiety when dealing with the contractor compliance process for the first time. Recipients of the above notice may find themselves thinking they can complete the ISN® requirements for compliance in a single afternoon, but have told us that they quickly find the process to be more time-consuming than anticipated.
That’s where Blakeman comes into the picture. Our experts can guide you through the entire ISN® compliance process and help you understand what is required of you.
Before determining your course of action, it is important to understand the purpose and intent of this letter. Your response to this letter entirely depends on the relationship between your company and the Owner/Client (customer requiring your ISN® compliance status).
The first question at hand is understanding whether or not a contractor is actually required to join ISN®. The customer ISN® notification letter usually goes to all contractors and it’s up to the contractors to step back and evaluate whether or not it truly applies to their scope of work. Rule of thumb is, if the contractor never actually steps foot on a customer’s job-site, then they usually do not have to join ISNetworld®. “Sometimes” stepping on site is like saying you are “sometimes pregnant.” What the contractor does onsite is not relevant to the question; if contractors perform work or steps onsite, they are generally required to join.
Cost and Benefits to Consider:
– Contractors are almost always required to foot the bill for ISN® startup fees and expenses without being able to pass the cost along to the Owner/Client. This is equivalent to applicants being required to pay for their company uniform before even being considered for a job.
– When a contractor has a pre-established “approval” status with their customer, they are still required to gain approval again through ISNetworld®. Contractors that come to Blakeman often report how time-consuming and challenging this process can be.
– Although measures can be taken to change a score, it is important to begin the ISN® process with a clear understanding of how to get the score that most accurately reflects your company’s safety history. Owner/Client’s previously signed agreements are not always equal to ISN®’s scoring system. Just because you were previously approved to work with your customer does not mean you will be approved again through ISNetworld®.
Contractors often call us not knowing what ISN® is or how to get set up with a profile and account. Or in some cases, they already have an account on ISN® but no connections. Many contractors want to work for a customer (Owner/Client) who is already in ISN® but find that they cannot establish a connection in the system. Without an agreement signed or one about to be signed, it can be difficult to get that connection established.
The first step to joining ISN® and connecting with an Owner/Client is paying ISNetworld® for your account. Contractors will need to setup their ISN® account and obtain a login.
Contractors must watch ISN®’s webcast training to access their account and obtain their account number.
– Once you are able to access your ISN® account, contractors can provide their prospective Owner/Clients with their ISN® company ID number to establish a connection. This may take a month to a year to complete depending on the relationship, desire, motivation, and whether or not there was a prior agreement with an Owner/Client.
– After a connection has been established with an Owner/Client, the last step is to submit the necessary documents and information for approval and complete the Management System Questionnaire (MSQ®). Clients have reported this process can take 3-6 months on their own, but Blakeman’s team of ISN® experts can do this on your behalf typically in under a week. For more information about this section of the process, visit our ISNetworld® page
It is important to note that contractors might not have internal support from an individual with an authoritative understanding of OSHA and Insurance language to provide ISN® maintenance. Instead this job usually goes to upper management to handle, effectively driving up costs for compliance within the company.
Another difficulty contractors struggle with is the lack of understanding between the local buyer, the corporate office, and the contractor. The local buyer may know you need to be in the ISN® system but not know how to initiate the connection. Contractors must determine where at the corporate level the connection can be initiated. Typically this means the local contact must communicate an interest in the contractor to higher level corporate contacts. Because of this separation of communication, the contractor has a two-part job. Not only do they need to act as salesman to the local buyer, but they must also sort through the bureaucratic process at the corporate level to establish that first ISN® connection.
Because of this separation of communication, the contractor has a two-part job. Not only do they need to act as salesman to the local buyer, but they must also sort through the bureaucratic process at the corporate level to establish that first ISN® connection.
Although each company differs in this respect, we primarily hear of the connection being established this way. Contact Blakeman if you would like to learn more about this aspect of the process.
It may seem logical for contractors to preemptively sign up with ISN® in anticipation of future connections, but Blakeman cautions contractors to consider the cost and benefits of this decision. Until you are required to join ISN® by an Owner/Client, there is little benefit to spending the time and money obtaining an account number. Unless you need to establish a connection with an Owner/Client, you will probably find yourself wasting money on the account fees and startup costs.
If you are certain you will need an ISN® account for future connections, go ahead and obtain the account number. We advise you NOT to contract with a third party administrator until the first connection has been made because the majority of the data cannot be uploaded in the system until that connection has been made. Once you have your first connection, other Owner/Clients can connect with you with the process already partially completed. Having an account set up and your first connection made greatly simplifies the process for additional contacts.
Beware of third party administrators that do not clarify the necessity of a first connection or you may end up paying money for an account and additional services that are of no use without that connection.
There are two kinds of bad grades that contractors can receive: a bad grade because the contractor failed to upload the required data, and a bad grade because all the data uploaded has some negative history.
In certain cases, the Owner/Client can forgive and continue to do business with a contractor that has a bad grade, but rarely will a customer continue to do business if data is not submitted into the system. This being the case, it is important for contractors to have the data uploaded properly to have the best chance at receiving a positive score. Even if a contractor does find themselves with a poor grade, there is hope for improvement. Blakeman can potentially help mitigate a bad grade through a plan specifically designed to identify, correct, and prevent problems. Contact us to learn more about how we can help with improving your grade.
Contractors may find they are unable to meet a specific requirements and may apply for a variance through ISNetworld®. Contractors sometimes fill out the Management System Questionnaire (MSQ®) incorrectly, which can trigger excessive insurance and safety requirements. Variances should be sought when applicable and Blakeman can help clarify the difference for you. Understanding your impact on the job site and maintaining an open line of communication between you and the Owner/Client can also aid in obtaining a variance. Call Blakeman to learn more about this or any other aspect of ISN® compliance.