Small to Mid-Size General Contractor – Who Should Handle Safety Within Your Organization?
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It is easier to say who the buck should not lie with from an overall company stand point. That would be anyone who is not solely dedicated to a safety director or risk manager job. Too often a dual role is the solution small business owners in our industry take.   This decision leads to a matter of time before the safety side suffers a serious, if not fatal, incident or a project or office responsibility falls behind and hurts the company.

Yes, some sort of program is better than no program at all, but those that budget and hire a dedicated, trained, responsible safety professional or dedicated safety consultant definitely have reason to sleep better at night.

There are many factors that go into determining what safety program is best for your company. The right safety program for your company not only saves human life and limb, but also saves a company money and not just from lack of OSHA fines. Here are a few of those ways:

Cost of Turnover – A company that runs safe jobsites usually has other positive leadership values. Top performers recognize this and will be more likely to stay vs leave to a competitor that cuts corners. It is a huge selling tool for staffing and retention when safety is not just talk, but that talk is backed up with reality.

More Profitable Projects – Companies who can attract the top performers employ individuals that understand their jobs and how it relates to everyone else’s within the organization in addition to the overall profitability of the company.

More Subcontractor Choices – The top sub-contracting firms prefer to work for General Contractors that hold their men accountable for following safety protocol. It helps the subcontractor keep their insurance rates down, morale up and like mentioned above if a GC values safety, they most likely value human life and relationships in general, which increases the odds of success on projects.

Insurance Rates – Insurance premiums and worker’s compensation rates for contractors are at an all- time high. An embedded safety culture, in addition to the documented safety plan, is proven to be behind the companies with the lower mod rates.

Reputation and PR – Safety incidents bring the wrong kind of attention. The press doesn’t usually get involved unless the project is shut down, but every person that is aware of an incident is now your press on the street.   A company with a dedicated safety professional is typically acting as a professional guiding force when an incident occurs so when people talk, and they do, it is less damaging than when left to chance.

So, who should be responsible for safety?

There is no set answer as every company is different. The right combination of internal team members and outside consultants will differ, not just with each company, but should be evaluated annually as project volume, locations types etc. change within an organization. An example would be if your company goes from sub-contracting everything to a combination of sub-contracting and self-performing, or self-performing all projects. Then new safety initiatives need to be in place before making that change.

While OSHA does not specifically address training or certification requirements for workers, many OSHA standards require that the employer train employees in specific safety and health aspects of their jobs.  It is up to you to make sure anyone who steps foot on your jobsite has a minimum of their OSHA 10, and if they work weekly on a jobsite they should have their OSHA 30 and any other training specific to their job. Attached is a list of some of the many specific trainings available. OSHA Construction Training Listing.

OSHA recommends at a minimum that each written plan include the following basic elements:

  • Policy or goals statement
  • List of responsible persons
  • Hazard identification
  • Hazard controls and safe practices
  • Emergency and accident response
  • Employee training and communication
  • Recordkeeping

We can name too many companies that are checking the box, but are not measuring the effectiveness of their safety program. Some companies you can just pick up their marketing materials or drive by a jobsite and visually see that their talk and their walk are not the same.

It doesn’t have to be you. If you would like to learn more about how you can put the right program in place give us a call to schedule your free consultation.

With your help we can get the 14,000 on average deaths in our industry way down. Construction Owner, Construction Executive; Will you do your part to help?

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