As the economy continues to heat up and businesses continue to grow, an unwanted risk emerges in lockstep with the growing economy—an increase in safety-related incidents.
According to the 2018 Union Craft Labor Supply Study, by TAUC (The Association of Union Constructors), two-thirds of the study participants believe that a labor shortage caused by a strong economy increases the number of safety-related incidents. As you know, the consequences to our workers and the effects on our companies can be significant and can jeopardize insurance ratings and the ability to win future work.
So why are jobsite accidents more likely to occur when the contractor’s business is growing? One reason is the temptation to stretch existing crews to cover larger projects, increasing the job requirements per person, which in turn puts pressure on both younger and older workers.
Another risk factor is asking older workers to do more physical labor than normal while working longer hours than they are accustomed to. As a result, they may become overly tired and stressed when performing certain tasks, creating a higher potential for accidents and injuries. While these workers may have the knowledge and skills to work smarter, physical limitations may prevent them from doing so.
The inverse applies to younger workers. They are expected to carry a heavier burden and do new and different work that may be unfamiliar to them. Younger workers may not have the perspective or experience required to quickly adapt to new processes. This uncertainty can create stressful situations made worse by the pressures to meet new deadlines.
Another issue that may arise with workers of all ages, is the reduced supervision as a result of supervisor schedules being stretched thin, leaving reduced time to effectively perform their supervisory responsibilities.
At R.F. Knox, we avoid growing pains like these by knowing that safety is more than a list of do’s and don’ts. We work hard to develop a culture of caring where employees look out for the person next to them. Each day we renew our focus on safety with our daily Tool Box Talks and then perform “JHAs” (Job Hazard Analyses) to discuss every activity that will take place that day and the safety-related issues connected to each activity.
We also know that accountability is key to making sure everyone follows the right procedures, even if it takes longer to complete a task. At the end of the day, we want everyone to head home the way they arrived at the start of the day—not injured. Showing you care will make a positive difference in your safety program.
So, while the good times continue, let’s all be aware of the growing jobsite risks associated with expanding work volumes. Take time to read this special safety and health issue of SMACNews and keep all the helpful information it contains top-of-mind as we strive to keep our employees safe. It’s my hope that after reading this issue, you will take the time to review your work procedures and put more preventative safety practices into action.