Good news for the construction industry: according to US News & World Report, housing starts rose 5.2 percent in February, reaching their highest level in five months. The article also reports that the National Association of Homebuilders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index stayed at 58, a sign that conditions are good for new home sales. Hopefully, this means a busier busy season for all types of construction businesses.
More work can mean more money, but it can also mean more opportunities for workplace accidents. You don't want to drain your profits on medical bills and attorney’s fees, so take time before your busy season really hits to make sure your safety equipment and protocols are up to par.
Invest in Worker Training Instead of Paying Fines
The safety of your employees is probably enough to motivate you to perform a risk management check. However, you might also want to look at this infographic from The Asbestos Institute, an EPA-accredited training center dedicated to the asbestos, lead abatement, and environmental hazard control industry.
Some of the statistics it compiles from OSHA are eye opening, such as how much companies spent in one year on:
- Fall protection violations: $20.4 million.
- Scaffolding violations: $9.2 million.
- Ladder violations: $4.3 million.
It’s not just the big companies that get caught, either. In fact, OSHA’s data shows that small businesses faced $70.7 million in penalties in the same period, significantly more than larger companies.
Most construction workers know their jobs can be risky, but over time, they may get accustomed to the danger. That’s why it’s important that you continue to educate your workers on the importance of using safety equipment, such as:
- Safety nets.
- Personal fall arrest systems.
Training may cost you time and money, but it might also get your workers to do their part to ensure their safety on the worksite. The more they pay attention, the fewer fines and accidents you may see.
Safety Check: Consider getting involved in OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down. The program is designed to promote awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction and begins on May 2, 2016.
Check Your Workers’ Compensation and General Liability Coverage
With the appropriate equipment and employee training, you can reduce the likelihood of an expensive Workers’ Compensation claim that slows down your business. Use the checklists on OSHA’s “Worker Safety Series: Construction” to get your workers up to speed and your equipment ready to go.
But keep in mind that your workers aren’t the only ones who may be the source of a claim against your company. For example, if a client thinks your finished product is faulty, they may sue you to recoup their losses. That may be the time you want General Liability Insurance to help you cover the cost of your defense.
Safety Check: As you prepare for the busy season, look closely at your contractors and subcontractors. Some may actually be employees. Learn more in “Shifting Labor Classifications Could Affect Construction Business Workers’ Comp Requirements.”
To ensure your subcontractors are both in business for themselves and responsible for their work product, make sure they have liability insurance certificates. You may want them to have their own General Liability and Workers’ Compensation to address their responsibilities if the project goes sideways.