Construction accidents are more expensive than you think. That's because of hidden costs such as training a replacement worker, investigating the incident, repairing damages, and continuing insurance coverage.
This article looks at the cost of injuries and three things you can do to increase safety and lower expenses.
According to the National Safety Council, the average work-related, medically consulted injury costs a company $39,000. In 2017, the total cost of work injuries was $161.5 billion. To put that in perspective, this is three times Apple's 2017 profits and 54 times Amazon's profits.
This list does not even include indirect costs such as lowered morale, project delays, and decreased customer service. When a project falls behind, the customer will not be happy, and an unhappy customer will not refer others to the construction company. Some customers may publicly talk about the problems and this hurts the company's reputation.
A BLR survey of safety professionals has found that more than half of the most common contributor to slips, trips, and falls in the workplace is human factors. The other two biggest causes are housekeeping issues and wet or slippery surfaces.
Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that 21 percent of worker fatalities in 2017 occurred in construction. Saving more lives requires eliminating what OSHA calls the "Fatal Four" because they make up 60 percent of the fatalities.
Construction companies can boost safety by creating a construction security plan and implementing safety processes and systems. Here are three ways construction companies can minimize human errors to build a safer environment for workers.
A construction security plan helps ensure the company maintains a high level of safety in all projects across all work sites. Each will have its own plan for organizing the construction site because the layout and equipment used vary by project. Maintaining a construction security plan and organizing a construction site improves safety, boosts productivity, and increases profits.
An effective site security plan involves the following:
A. Analyzing security risks and threats
Because of their wide-open space and expensive equipment left on site, construction sites are at a higher risk for theft. Not only that, but thieves also look for materials especially copper on construction sites. This is a big problem when the Department of Energy reports that more than $1 billion worth of copper is stolen every year.
Doing an analysis of potential security risks helps you identify all the possibilities. The information allows you to create a plan outlining how you'll reduce the risk for each item. A good way to start is to conduct an asset and inventory review for current work sites.
B. Requiring employees and vendors to undergo background checks
Employee theft costs U.S. businesses $50 billion every year according to Statistic Brain data in this CNBC article. That's why it's critical to do background checks on everyone before hiring. This should also include vendors and contractors.
C. Listing tools and gear for every task
Also important is having the right tools and gear for the task. A security plan lists all the tasks and the associated tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) to use. When the company starts a new project, they can refer to this list when creating the organization plan for the job site. It's worth investing in high-quality PPE because they lead to fewer construction site injuries.
D. Creating checklists
All projects and tasks have repeatable steps to ensure that you dot all the I's and cross all the T's. Creating, updating, and maintaining checklists go a long way in making sure you don't miss an important step. Checklists are meant to be updated as employees find more effective ways of completing a task.
The work site project manager can adapt the checklists for the project. It would help to print the checklists and laminate them so workers can reuse them every time they do the task.
E. Documenting the process for tracking people onsite
Many people roam around on a construction site every day, including non-employees such as vendors, visitors, and clients. You'll want a process for how employees and non-employees will check in and check out of the work site.
Should employees wear identification badges? Will visitors receive a temporary badge? Add this information in the process and document.
One of the common denominators in companies that go longer without a workplace incident is that they regularly hold safety training. It's smart to include this in the security plan where you indicate the frequency of the training and what it will cover. For instance, you'd require all new employees to undergo safety training.
The training will also cover "see something, say something" to encourage employees to report a problem. Safety and security are critical. Your employees are the best resource for identifying potential problems. However, some fear saying something in fear of retaliation. Thus, you want to give them a way to anonymously report problems.
Hold safety training on every new project and work site. This ensures everyone knows what tools to use for which job and how to use them properly.
Construction security technology can deter theft and trespassing. For instance, a UNC Charlotte study has found that 83 percent of thieves would check for an alarm before breaking in. And 60 percent will go elsewhere when they see an alarm on-site. Visible security like video cameras can send would-be thieves packing.
Here are three construction safety technologies to consider implementing.
Just having cameras on site isn't enough. Since thieves almost never leave upon seeing cameras, remote video monitoring can help close this gap. Trained video operators watching your cameras can watch for trespassers and often stop them before damage occurs. For extra support, live video monitoring can include an audio deterrent. This allows the person monitoring your cameras to activate audio speakers to alert the trespassers they are being watched.
Most video monitoring services come with recording and archiving of footage. This helps reduce liability and fraud. Anytime an incident occurs on the property, analysts can search the footage to provide proof of what happened. This can help prevent or win expensive lawsuits.
It's possible to add sensors like a flood detection system to a video monitoring system. These watch for potential leaks as the result of a pipe freeze or hazardous weather conditions and alert someone ASAP.
Another benefit of live video monitoring is that it reduces or eliminates the need for construction site security guards. The entire monitoring system and the service cost a fraction of what it would cost to pay security guards and their benefits.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) planted on vests, hard hats, and equipment can reduce safety incidences. For example, Cat Detect for Personnel from Caterpillar can alert the operator of equipment when another employee is near the equipment.
The way this works is that you put an RFID tag in a hard hat and an antenna on equipment. When the antenna detects the RFID within so many feet, it alerts the operator.
Another option is a smart band like Cat Smartband, which watches for worker fatigue. The band monitors for different factors and assigns a score. When the score exceeds a threshold, the app sends an alert that the worker may be too fatigued.
More than 10,000 construction and farm equipment thefts occurred in 2016 alone per the National Equipment Register equipment theft report. GPS technology has gotten cheaper in the past few years to the point that they provide a faster ROI.
Adding GPS to large equipment makes it possible to track their location. If the equipment gets stolen, you'll be able to track it down. This prevents project delays and spending money on replacements.
Developing and implementing a construction security plan, requiring regular training, and investing in technology like remote video monitoring can drastically increase your safety program. They deliver other benefits including improved productivity and greater ROI.
For in-depth coverage on this topic, download the Construction Security and Safety Best Practices guide. This detailed construction security guide discusses industry challenges and offers solutions.
You'll learn about the current and forecasted trends in construction security as well as the latest options available. The guide covers recommended industry best practices to help you set up more secure and safer construction sites. If you'd like to know more about construction site safety, feel free to contact us.