While workplace injuries have dropped as much as 60 percent since the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was signed into law in 1970, preventable work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses are still too common on construction sites. In addition to the loss or temporary leave of personnel, these incidents can also lead to stop work orders, mandatory OSHA post-accident inspections, delays in construction completion and more. 

One way to reduce the risk of accidents and create accountability during construction is to include proactive safety and risk mitigation stipulations into your contract with a general contractor. By incorporating the expectation that a contractor exceeds minimum federal safety laws up front, you’ll reduce your potential for accidents, and assist in enforcement down the road. 

Contractual considerations for construction 
While each project will have its own specialized safety requirements, creating a contract that includes employee safety training, falls prevention and incident prevention requirements will minimize onsite accident rates, clearly outline safety performance expectations for your contractor. 

Employee Training. Require every construction employee to have a valid OSHA 10-hour construction safety course completion card that has been issued within the last five years, prior to commencement of work. Similarly, each contractor should have at least one onsite supervisor/foreman with a valid OSHA 30-hour course completion card, issued within the last five years as well. These two requirements will help reduce overall contractor risk.

Falls Prevention. Subcontractors should be required to elevate all power cords from walking surfaces to minimize tripping hazards. Pre-fabricated stairs or stair towers are to be used in lieu of ladders. At least two means of temporary access must be provided to every level and floor. Where falls protection is required, stipulate that it is the contractor’s responsibility to utilize retractable or other fall arrest systems limiting fall distance to 2-ft. whenever feasible. 

Incident Prevention. Require contractors to hold daily job hazard analysis/pre-task meetings to discuss the work to be performed and specific task-oriented safety requirements. A management official (not site staff) should conduct a safety inspection each month, submitting written results to the general contractor within 24 hours. 

Safety is everyone’s job
The project owner, contractor and subcontractors together bear the weight of creating a culture of safety that begins with management and worker training before construction commences. Working together, with contract stipulations and a real risk management plan, safety can be achieved. Contact your HUB Risk Services specialist to find out how you can create a culture of safety on your upcoming construction project.