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By Duane Craig
May 8, 2017
They come out of nowhere and conspire to make your days go to… well, you know. Accidents are dangerous surprises to any construction project. In fact, one in five worker deaths in 2014 were in construction, making it the leader in worker fatalities in the private industry.
But despite this dizzying statistic, some people have figured out how to prevent many of their workplace woes.
The solution? Investment.
Invest time into the training of management and employees, invest money into safety programs, and invest your energy into keeping your worksite as safe as possible.
The day is approaching when intelligence built into every aspect of construction will make construction sites safer than they’ve ever been. Tools with sensors will know when hands move into danger. Equipment won't start unless the appropriate safety gear is in place. Roof top edges will provide multiple warnings as people stray too close.
But even after those days arrive, safety will largely be in the hands of people. It takes committed management, committed employees, training, and a safety plan that people follow to make accident-free job sites. It also takes owners who are willing to pay a percentage of project budgets toward safety. What are the results?
Researchers studied real construction projects valued between $70 million and $480 million, and calculated the return on the money invested in safety. A $100 million project with 3% of project value invested in safety got a 46% ROI, while a $480 million project with 2.25% invested in safety saw a 424% ROI. The other four cases studied all had between 85% and 363% ROI.
Of course, all those numbers ignore the greatest benefits of all; less pain and suffering, fewer deaths on the job, fewer disabilities from the job, improved company reputation, and a point of competitive advantage for the employer. Most owners want to avoid the issues that accompany accidents and deaths on their projects, and they will weigh that factor accordingly when selecting participants.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as other safety experts, recommend having a company wide safety and health program. While setting up a safety program requires effort and commitment, small businesses routinely deal with issues of much greater complexity.
The heart of construction is managing projects. So that's the best way to approach setting up a safety and health program. Set a beginning, fill in the activities necessary for completion, and put the rough schedule out to the stakeholders for their input on how long they need for completion. Bring it all together by assigning their estimates to the project timeline to come up with a completion date. Assign a budget based on resources required to create the program.
Don’t think you can handle it? Here are the main activities for your project timeline, along with things to consider, and questions looking for answers:
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