Wednesday, May 13, 2015

General Contractor and Construction Management Safety

By Robert D. France
CEO, Senate Construction Corp.

I was recently invited by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Worcester Chapter, to present a General Contractor’s and Construction Manger’s Perspective to managing a safe Project site for their membership.

Our discussion and topics focused on recent Economic trends and highlighted the changes that have occurred in the construction industry for small to mid-size contractors.  The implications vary. However, there are many commonalities amongst all industries that occur during times of change.

Consider these questions when reviewing your safety program in order to keep current with changing
times: How has the Great Recession impacted safety in the Construction Industry?

Many things have happened in the construction industry as a result of the great recession:

1. Company downsizing and transition has impacted safety in a number of ways.
    a) Loss of Safety Director.
    b) Change of personnel.
    c) Securing work although always a priority had taken on a new meaning in an industry that had
        lost 37% of its market share.
2. Reduced market share has caused many companies to depreciate the importance of safety in
order to save costs and deliver a cheaper product.
3. Ignoring safety although not intentional becomes an unintended consequence of the added competition for work.

As your firm’s safety officer can you share with me what your contribution to contractor pre-qualification is?

1. Is safety the number one priority when creating your shortlist of contractors?
2. When the bids come in and the contractor is selected is any weight placed on the contractor’s safety record or is it based on the low bid?
3. What are your responsibilities for monitoring a safe job site and how do you manage to place the responsibility where it belongs with your contractor and its subcontractors?

What tools do you rely on to manage the day to day safety requirements of your jobsite?

1. Project safety plan
2. New employee safety and jobsite orientation (80% of recorded accidents happen within the 1st week of the start of a new jobsite or job for an employee)
3. 60% of construction related accidents happen to employees that have been employed 1 year of less (Monthly Labor Review-March 1981, Norman Root)
4. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
5. Daily inspection/checklist
6. Task planning worksheets
7. Project schedule
8. Weekly tool box talk
9. Weekly equipment inspection and tagging.

Have you considered how cultural changes and technological changes are impacting safety on the

1. I am personally aware of two (2) serious construction related accidents directly caused by the distraction of cell phone use while on the project.  Have you considered designated “Cell phone Use” areas on your project site where Workers can conduct cell phone use and be out of harm’s way?
2. A significant increase in immigrant workers that have learned and been trained under a different
set of guidelines has occurred over the last few years.  Introduction to OSHA rules and regs as with all workers need to be emphasized to bridge any cultural differences in understanding and training.

What are the challenges that you face when maintaining a safe jobsite and how can you plan to avoid
the potential shortfalls?

Job Size and duration has a major impact on the continuity of your safety program in particular smaller jobs provide these challenges;

1. Maintaining continuity with the constant transition of personnel and subcontractors
2. Time management related to item 1
3. Cost and time implications to the project as it relates to item 1

Larger jobs provide these challenges;

1. Typically have a higher risk due to the complexity, size, and number of participants
2. Time management related to 1
3. Cost and time implications to the project as it relates to item 1

If you would like a summary of safety statistics used in this presentation or if you would like to know more about our safety program email and place “Safety” in the subject line” or you can call our office at 978-425-9802 to get more information.