Construction: Designing A Proactive On-the-Job Safety Program is Key
The construction sector represents nearly 5% of the workforce but unfortunately accounts for 16% of fatal injuries, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the industry accounts for the second most fatal work injuries of any sector after transportation and warehousing, which have the most fatalities. That’s not entirely surprising considering that construction is a high-hazard industry fraught with a tremendous amount of exposures that can result in accidents and injuries. Yet with a proactive safety culture, a construction firm can address these exposures, helping to stem losses, reduce the risk of litigation and regulatory action, preserve its reputation in the marketplace, remain competitive and manage insurance cost drivers.
In establishing a safety culture in a firm, safety should be an integral part of a project before it even begins. Safety should be one of the company’s core values, embraced and instilled from upper management and throughout every level of the organization, including project executives and managers, superintendents, and foremen – not only the on-site managers and their employees.
Here are several steps construction companies can take to make safety a part of their organization’s culture:
- Safety committees and safety managers should be an integral part of the job. Committees should be made up of upper management, risk managers, safety directors operational staff, and the labor force working on site.
- Acknowledge success, while making sure individuals are accountable for safety. If you don’t have accountability, individuals will take risks and cut corners in an attempt to save time and money.
- Prequalify subcontractors for safety along with other traditional qualifications. In addition to looking at experience and financial strength, be sure to review a subcontractor’s safety record and performance, including their Workers Compensation experience modification rates, their Bureau of Labor Statistics recordable and lost-time incident rates, OSHA citation record and overall safety procedures.
- Train employees on safety and proper use of equipment, compliance and regulations. This should be done for every project with an overview of the project, and an in-depth review of the safety requirements and expectations, evacuation plans and procedures, disciplinary actions, etc.
- Emphasize fall management. In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 35% of the 721 fatal construction accidents that occurred were due to slips and falls. That represents more than three times that of the next highest categories, which is roadway accidents and being struck by an object of piece of equipment. An effective fall management program will provide a uniform set of procedures for all workers, with a detailed plan for each operation where the potential of falls from elevations will be encountered.
- Fighting substance abuse. The construction industry as in other major sectors needs to actively address and combat substance abuse. Not only should a program be in place to ensure impaired personnel are not working on the site, but that they are also getting treatment for the problem.
- Conduct regular accident reviews. Look at the facts and circumstances involving accidents to get at the root of the problem while also paying attention to near misses. In addition, to help manage safety, each project executive should have access to detailed loss runs and claim information.
- Work with risk management experts. Working with those with in-depth knowledge and experience in the construction industry can help provide the expertise necessary in risk management, engineering protocols and procedures to help make a company’s safety efforts more robust.
At Caitlin-Morgan, we can provide insurance and risk management services for the construction industry, including the ability to secure surety bonds. We also specialize in placing coverage for the transportation construction (bridge, street and road contractors) industry and telecommunications contractors. For more information about how we can help you and your insureds, please give us a call at: 877.226.1027.
Sources: ACE, Bureau of Labor Statistics