Construction sites are dangerous places due to the risks associated with the use of heavy machinery, handle tools, working at great heights, or even simply walking through busy construction sites. While danger is inherent on all job sites, there are many ways construction companies can work to protect their team while providing a safe working environment. Workers’ compensation insurance is coverage that protects business owners and their employees should they get injured or fall ill due to work-related activity.
Unfortunately, all kinds of accidents can happen while working on construction projects, from strained muscles due to lifting heavy objects to sickness from inhaling harmful chemicals. Safety procedures and risk management protocols will help to protect construction-related businesses and their hard-working team.
Don’t Overlook Toolbox Talk for Construction Workers
“Toolbox talks can significantly reduce the risk of construction-related accidents and injuries,” says Dave Brewer, PMC Risk Specialist. Buildings present a great number of possible risks, both in construction and operation. Construction workers must be provided with information about emergency procedures and hazards, and toolbox talks can help. These ongoing briefings, along with supervision, and monitoring, can help to keep everyone safe.
“Daily safety huddles ensure that worker inquiries and concerns are appropriately addressed and resolved. Employees and their supervisors are responsible and accountable for the potential daily construction risks,” says Brewer. According to statistics, daily toolbox talks can reduce the risk of incidents by 64% compared to talks that occur on a monthly basis.
A toolbox talk is an onsite discussion about a specific safety issue, given to the construction workforce. It usually involves a meeting with a short talk, presentation, or video delivered by a senior, experienced, and knowledgeable team member. They are intended to instruct, inform, and educate the crew on how to avoid illness, prevent accidents, and safeguard against environmental damage. Toolbox talks should focus on a single topic for greatest impact and may cover subjects such as:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Working at height – use of ladders and scaffolding
- Working near existing services
- Electrical hazards
- Working in confined spaces
- Working in the elements
- Fire safety
- Equipment handling
- Night working
- Hazardous material
- Eye protection, head protection, hearing protection, etc.
Even a few minutes of a relevant toolbox talk can help instill a mindset of safety in the team. The fewer accidents on the job, the closer you can control your workers’ compensation costs.
Mandate Safety Reviews
The project team should conduct daily site safety reviews to ensure that the workplace meets codes and there are no obvious hazards. Safety needs not just to be a goal, but a mindset of intolerance to any injury occurrence. Make safety everyone’s responsibility by conducting regular reviews of the site.
In addition to safety reviews, it is wise to implement requirements for substance abuse testing randomly or on a post-accident basis. In many cases, a workers’ compensation claim is denied if an employee has been found to have taken drugs or under the influence of alcohol. Substance abuse issues can lead to a worker injuring themself or others through their unsafe actions. Pre-hire drug tests are necessary to ensure you hire the right people for the job, but be sure to continue monitoring them by performing tests throughout the project.
Consider Subcontractor Exposure
Working with subcontractors will always present a new risk. For this reason, you should only work with reputable and insured subcontractors. Any subcontractor who will be issued 1099 at the end of the year should provide you with a Certificate of Insurance before beginning work. Don’t file it away – look at it. Make sure the certificate shows what workers’ compensation is being provided. Also, check the dates on the paperwork to ensure that the subcontractor is insured for the entire time they will be working with you. To easily manage Certificates of Insurance as a contractor, take a look at our Resource Center.
Ensure Your Employees are Classified Correctly
Naturally, different types of work have different levels of risk. For example, an office manager will likely have a lower level of risk than a roofer or electrician. These different levels of risk will carry different insurance premiums. If you are looking to keep your premiums as accurately and as affordable as possible, be sure your employees are correctly classified. For general contractors, it may be useful to distinguish between carpentry and millwork as these two categories will carry different rates. A little extra effort in this area will help save you money on your workers’ compensation costs in the long run.
Working with an effective safety program, these safety practices can help to control your workers’ compensation costs and ensure you secure the right coverage. Find out how PMC Insurance can provide the right workers’ compensation for your construction project. Contact us today at 781-449-7744 or [email protected].