Don’t Cut Corners on Safety in the Construction Business
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By nature, the construction industry runs on tight deadlines and tighter margins. Small business owners have to organize their team, keep projects running smoothly and maintain site safety all at the same time. It’s a monumental task, so it’s understandable that entrepreneurs may look for opportunities to cut costs or workload to keep their business running. However, the one place where it is essential to pull out all the stops is construction and contracting safety.
There are many reasons to do things right the first time, even if it slows a project down or costs a bit more money. In the end, construction safety can help a small business thrive for a long time. Here are some things to consider.
Construction Presents Safety Risks
Construction is a multi-trillion-dollar industry that employs more than 7 million people every year in the United States alone. This is an industry with ample opportunity for small business owners to make their way in contracting, home building, and other construction fields. However, it is also one of the most dangerous industries. In 2019, one out of every 20 workplace fatalities occurred in the construction industry in the United States. Approximately 42 of those fatalities each year can be directly attributed to crane-related accidents, while other sources of risk include slipping, tripping, and improper operation or maintenance of other heavy equipment.
Acute injuries and the tragedy of workplace fatalities aren’t the only consequences of cutting corners in the construction industry. There are many long-term issues, as well. Cutting concrete or stone without proper protective equipment can cause a chronic respiratory ailment known as silicosis. Hearing damage and strain are other health concerns some construction workers deal with.
This all sounds very serious, and it is a sobering aspect of a field that relies on manual labor. Fortunately, you can greatly reduce this risk and provide great career opportunities for your workers by investing in construction safety. Here’s why it’s worth the cost.
Cutting Corners Is Costly For Your Business
Cutting corners in a way that leads to injuries or fatalities can end up being very costly. Construction injuries cost companies upwards of $11.5 billion every year, with $4 billion or 40% relating to workplace fatalities and the remaining 60% due to injuries. The majority of these expenses are due to days away from work, but that isn’t the only expense that might occur.
Cutting corners on projects — by using substandard materials, not following standard procedures, or skipping out on additional steps like inspections — could end up costing even more. Buildings that are not built to code or according to plan will need to be repaired or even torn down and replaced. The contractor that decided to skimp in the first place may end up on the hook for those repairs.
Finally, cutting corners can result in expensive lawsuits. Health-related issues can temporarily or permanently disable career construction workers. Companies that are proven liable or negligent could be responsible for workers’ compensation payments. Depending on the extent of the damage, they could even find themselves vulnerable to legal repercussions.
Construction Safety Tips for Small Businesses
These warnings aren’t meant to scare you, just to give context to the moral and financial effects of negligence in the construction industry. Setting safety standards is actually easy to accomplish as long as you build the right foundation for your business.
Staying on top of OSHA recommendations and requirements will be the best way to keep track of best practices and prevent fines. You can work towards earning OSHA certification and are required to provide training and resources to workers on your team. Start right on the OSHA website to get the ball rolling.
Then, make sure your team knows that safety always comes first. Stay on top of equipment maintenance schedules and mandate inspections before use. Open up the floor for employee feedback and encourage workers to honor requirements for breaks, hydration, and stretching.
Construction Safety is Good for Business
The construction industry is under pressure to get things done faster or cheaper, but that is not an excuse to cut corners. Putting construction safety first can protect your workers, help you invest in a long-term team, and prevent costly delays and legal situations over time. It’s the right thing to do as well as the move that makes the most business sense.
Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on home building and construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry.