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Source: Construction Executive

Construction companies typically view sales, quality and profitability by cultural imperatives – but what about safety? Almost all accidents at construction sites can be prevented with zero-accident culture. Some large construction companies operate for millions of manhours without a lost-time accident. Small and medium-sized contractors also can achieve unblemished records through education, training and unwavering commitment to building a culture of safety.

Highly skilled workers are a firm’s most valuable asset. With fewer young people entering the construction workforce, the labor shortage will be felt by every contractor when the economy recovers. When safety is a strong corporate value, firms can protect their current assets as well as attract competent workers who’ll have long careers.

Employee wellness is another key component. More studies are proving a strong connection exists between an employee’s wellness and injury rates. As the workforce ages, wellness becomes even more important.

Many factors can contribute to employees being depressed or stressed, which can lead to distraction, fatigue, illness, and injury. Employees may be distracted because they’re worried about being laid off or about saving enough money for retirement. By helping employees reduce their stress through budget and retirement workshops, contractors may experience work-related accidents.

The most direct link between safety and money shows up in workers’ compensation insurance – the rate for which is determined by a firm’s experience modification rate (e-mod). Some companies have an e-mod as low as .6 and some surpass 2.0. Any company well below 1.0 has a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace. Depending on its size, a company can save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on workers’ compensation.

Some construction companies will not hire a subcontractor with an e-mod exceeding 1.0, which means a poor safety record can lead to lost business. If a company’s average job size is $5 million and its profit margin is 5 percent, $250,000 would go out the window for every lost job. Losing five jobs equals $1.25 million of lost profit.

However, if a firm invests $50,000 or $100,000 in a safety program, it could see more than $1 million in profits during the following 12 months. Making safety a strong cultural imperative is easier when that $100,000 safety investment is revealed as a necessary stepping stone to higher profits.

A company’s executive leadership team must set an example – not just by going out and demonstrating safety procedures on the jobsite, but also by ensuring all corporate actions and behaviors clearly communicate safety as a priority. Executives should participate on the safety committee, provide and invest in the best training and personal protective equipment, and stay abreast of federal regulations. Ultimately, they should tune in safety just as they tune into quality control and timely execution.