On-Site Magazine

Safety programs yielding business benefits

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June 21, 2013 by Staff Report

Contractors are reporting business benefits from instituting strong safety programs, according to a new report by McGraw Hill Construction on safety management in the construction industry.

In particular, construction companies report the following benefits due to the implementation of safety management practices:

• 51 per cent report increases in project ROI; with a fifth of those reporting increases of greater than 5 per cent

• 43 per cent report faster project schedules, with half reporting schedule improvements of a week or more

• 39 per cent report a decrease in project budget from a safety program, with a quarter reporting decreases of 5 per cent or more. Only 15 per cent reported that safety programs cost firms more—debunking the myth that safety has to negatively affect a firm’s bottom line.

• 82 per cent report an improved reputation

• 71 per cent report lower injury rates

• 66 per cent report they have a greater ability to contract new work

• 66 per cent report better project quality

“Safety programs are not only creating safer places for their workers, but they are also improving firms’ bottom lines,” said Michele Russo, director of research communications, McGraw Hill Construction. “Overall, construction companies—large and small—are reporting positive financial impacts from safety programs—and the size of those benefits increase as the depth of the program increases. In an industry that operates on low margins, this is a powerful finding.”

The study also found that 92 per cent of large contractors (firms with more than 500 employees) and 48 per cent of smaller firms have instituted fully inclusive and widely observed safety programs, meaning that larger firms are capitalizing more on these business benefits as compared to smaller contractors and subcontractors.

“McGraw Hill’s report confirms the importance of safety within our industry, and highlights the tangible gains that can be seen across any business,” said Jim Dorris, vice president, health, safety, environment & sustainability, United Rentals, Inc. “United Rentals has found that investing in resources aimed at sustainable safety excellence not only creates a safer work environment, it also increases productivity, reduces costs, enhances the company’s reputation, and grows the business.” 

Firms are reporting that onsite safety training and education programs are currently most widely adopted (reported by 95 per cent of firms) and considered most valued to jobsite workers (82 per cent find it valuable). Online training programs are still an emerging trend, though the increase in mobile tools onsite will likely influence that.

Key industry trends—such as the increased use of mobile tools on construction sites, building information modeling (BIM) and prefabrication/modular construction practices—are also helping to improve safety outcomes for firms, indicating the improved safety expectations that will be placed on construction companies moving forward. Notably, the 43 per cent of the industry report BIM having a positive impact on project safety and 49 per cent report the same positive impact from prefabrication/modular construction. Mobile tools, such as Smartphones, iPads and iPhones also are reporting safety as reported by 82 per cent, 81 per cent and 78 per cent of contractors, respectively.

The study’s premier partners include CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, ClickSafety, United Rentals, and the National Institute of Building Sciences, its association partner.

To download a copy of the Safety Management in the Construction Industry SmartMarket Report, visit http://analyticsstore.construction.com/market-trends/smartmarket-reports/safety-management-in-the-construction-industry-smartmarket-report-2013.html?sourcekey=SMRPRES.

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