Worker Protection Programs in Construction
Organization(s): Occupational Health & Safety magazine, OSHA Office of Construction & Engineering
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Office of Program Evaluation Occupational Safety and Health Administration
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January 14, 1994
TABLE OF CONTENTSEXECUTIVE SUMMARY II. CONSTRUCTION SAFETY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND
CODES OF PRACTICE
Safety and Health Programs/Plans
Safety and Health Responsibilities and Accountability
Fitness for Duty
Hazard Prevention and Control/Abatement
Emergency Response Plans
Accident Investigation, Reporting, and Analysis
Joint Safety and Health Committees
Contractor/Subcontractor Relationship for Safety and Health Activities
Although injury and fatality rates in many industry sectors have declined significantly
in the twenty-three years since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
came into being, this has not been the case in construction, the country's largest industry and
one that has consistently registered high rates of workplace accidents. OSHA has had little
success in reducing injuries and fatalities among construction workers, despite the fact that it
channels a large portion of its resources into the enforcement of health and safety standards
on construction sites. Construction workers are exposed to a wider variety of hazards and
face a greater risk of work-related injury or fatality than employees in any other U.S.
industry; in 1992, according to the most recent annual Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the
lost-workday case rate for the construction industry was 5.7 per l00 full-time workers, the
highest of any major economic sector. To address the problem of recalcitrant injury and
fatality rates in construction, OSHA has recently undertaken a number of initiatives,
including creation within the Agency of an Office of Construction and Engineering and
redesign of the targeting system used to schedule on-site inspections in this sector.
Within this framework, OSHA's Office of Program Evaluation contracted with Meridian Research to:
the recent business and trade literature to identify successful
prevention programs in the construction industry;
the safety management practices applied or recommended by
government agencies, States, and national and international organizations for
the construction projects they fund and/or oversee;
the impact of worker protection programs on the accident and
rates of construction companies that have implemented these programs; and
the recent literature to identify any secondary benefits--such
reduced costs, improved employee morale, and enhanced productivity-
generated by successful worker protection programs.
Meridian's research found general agreement among authors--from both the academic community and the construction industry--that well-designed safety and health management programs can indeed cut accident rates dramatically and stem increases in workers' compensation costs. Cost-benefit data generated by companies implementing such programs confirm their "bottom line" advantages For example, Gulf States, Inc., a large specialty trade contractor, estimates that its worker protection program prevented 267 lost-workday injuries and saved $5.3 million in costs in a 3-year period, and the M.B. Kahn Construction Company, a much smaller general contractor, reports savings of $725,000 over 3 years and an 80 percent decline in its OSHA recordable incident rate since implementation of its program.
The costs associated with the development and implementation of worker protection programs are minimal compared with the benefits returned by these programs. For example, the Pizzagalli Construction Company estimates that it spends about $100,000 annually on its program but saves six times as much in workers' compensation costs alone. The Corps of Engineers, whose exemplary worker protection program has achieved injury rates approximately one-fifth the national average, estimates that these programs save contractors a minimum of 0.5 to 1.0 percent of total project costs. For the construction industry as a whole, the net cost savings associated with worker protection programs could be as high as $16 billion per year. Construction industry employers should thus regard worker protection programs as opportunities for reducing the death and injury toll in construction while simultaneously realizing substantial cost savings.
Occupational safety and health professionals have consistently stressed the importance of effective management practices in reducing workplace injury and illness. Of the many OSHA initiatives aimed at promoting effective worker protection programs, two merit special attention in the framework of the present study:
in 1989, of voluntary Safety and Health Program Management
Guidelines (54 FR 3904) for employers in general industry, shipyards, marine
terminals, and long shoring activities;
of the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), designed to give
recognition to businesses that have established exemplary occupational safety
and health programs and achieved outstanding results in the drive to eliminate work site accidents and injuries.
Both the Guidelines and the VPP believe that the following elements are essential to an effective worker protection program:
- Management commitment;
- Employee involvement;
- Work site analysis;
- Hazard prevention and control;
- Safety and health training.
In recent years, interest in worker protection programs (also called accident prevention programs and comprehensive occupational safety and health programs) has increased at the State level and in the US Congress. Since 1990, several States (e.g., North Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, and Minnesota) have passed laws and regulations mandating the development and implementation of such programs, and two other States (Oregon and California) have redefined and revitalized their existing program requirements. Bills that would require comprehensive accident prevention programs in most workplaces were introduced in the last two Congresses; similar bills are under consideration in the present Congress. Proponents of these measures hope to reduce the number of injuries, occupational illnesses, and fatalities that occur in American workplaces, as well as to stem the ever-increasing growth in workers' compensation claims.
No business sector would appear to have more to gain from these efforts than the construction industry, which has been characterized historically by the highest injury and fatality rates of any economic sector in the United States except mining. The human suffering behind the statistics defies quantitative measurement: not so the cost of workers' compensation, which has more than tripled over the last 10 years. To address this problem, individual States, some agencies, and a number of national and international organizations with construction oversight authority have used the five elements set forth on the preceding page as a cornerstone for the development and implementation of accident prevention policies and procedures tailored specifically to this high-risk business. The Mecklenburg, North Carolina Engineering Department, for example, has succeeded in reducing its work-related injuries-- and their associated cost-- by two-thirds over the 1985-1990 period, largely by implementing a comprehensive team safety program. On the single-company level, excellent results have also been achieved within the framework of a comparable program implemented on the opposite side of the country: thanks to a rigorous safety management program adopted at all of its work sites, a Vermont-based heavy construction firm has reduced its lost-workday case rate by 33 percent and its workers' compensation costs by 76 percent, all within a three year period.
Persuasive evidence in favor of comprehensive worker protection programs in construction is also to be found in the injury and illness records of firms working under contract to the US Corps of Engineers. The Corps imposes contractual requirements on its contractors for written safety and health programs, work site analyses, hazard prevention and control measures, and safety and health training. It ensures compliance with these provisions by reviewing each contractor's program documentation at all major project stages, conducting frequent on-site inspections, and requiring regular, on-going training for all employees and supervisors. The results of the Corps' program have been dramatic: between 1984 and 1988, US Corps of Engineers contractors registered an average lost-workday case rate of 1.34 to 1.54 per 100 full-time workers, compared with a national construction industry average of 6.8 to 6.9 per 100 full-time workers.
In the industry at large, a growing number of business leaders and construction firms are vigorously moving to address the human costs associated with high injury and fatality rates; the spiraling workers' compensation costs associated with construction accidents have also become a major issue. In addition, the recent construction management literature stresses the mechanisms available to make workplace safety a priority and thus implicitly acknowledges the importance of management commitment to the creation of safe working environments. The emphasis in these articles is placed on management's responsibilities, such as compiling and analyzing accident statistics by contractor (including subcontractors), by facility, and by project; reviewing safety performance by tracking accident rates and their costs-- both direct and indirect-- and evaluating the accident records of all bidders during the course of the procurement process to avoid the use of high-risk contractors and subcontractors.
Behavioral research in the construction safety field focuses on such issues as the effectiveness of feedback mechanisms, the influence of unions, and the benefits of training. There is a consensus among authors that involving employees in accident prevention programs and providing safety training to all workers on the site are essential to success.
Examples of the training efforts and research studies pertaining to this industry include:
- A program developed by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to reduce injuries and lower workers' compensation rates on specific jobs; the union negotiates with the contractor for comprehensive worker safety training, including frequent tool box meetings. If insurance premium dollars are returned to the contractor because injury losses are lower than expected, the program calls for splitting the savings with workers as an incentive (BNA 1990).
- A study that shows that workers' use of safe practices increases if positive feedback is provided on a regular basis (Fellner and Sulzer-Azaroff 1984). These authors found that the use of safe practices increased from 4 to 30 percent when feedback was provided, and a modest but statistically significant reduction in injuries was also observed over the course of the study. Feedback programs are inexpensive to develop and implement, and could be adapted easily to the construction setting.
There is general agreement in the literature that younger workers and new hires are particularly vulnerable to injuries, and that reaching these groups requires special effort (Eastern Research Group 1991). One author has suggested that non-unionized workers are exposed to heightened risks: he argues that OSHA regulations are more strictly enforced at unionized work sites, OSHA inspections are more likely to occur at such sites, and OSHA inspections are more thorough at union compared with non-union work sites (Weil 1992).
The literature on the effectiveness of worker protection programs in construction is largely anecdotal and pertains primarily to large companies. One of the best-documented studies of this type describes the experience of the Pizzagalli Construction Company, a Vermont-based heavy construction firm with approximately 30 work sites in 10 States along the East coast (Bruening 1989). In the two years after Pizzagalli implemented a proactive safety management program, recordable injuries were reduced by almost 48 percent, and the company's lost-workday case rate fell by 33 percent. Improved training, including an orientation program for new employees and weekly safety talks for all workers, was considered the key to the success of this project. Other important elements were visible management leadership of the program, incentives for safety performance, and equipment inspections that were both more comprehensive and more frequent than those required by OSHA.
A common thread running through the recent literature is the importance of management commitment in guaranteeing work site safety. Management's role may be even more important in construction than in general industry because of the dynamic nature of construction work: the changes in hazards and work crews associated with the various phases of a construction project make proactive, vigorous, and continuous management involvement essential throughout the life of each project. Annual compliance self-inspections performed by the employer may be adequate for the fixed-site operations typical of most general industry production facilities, but daily (and sometimes even more frequent) inspections are necessary on most construction sites.
The following sections of this report describe the safety management practices endorsed by various organizations with interest in or oversight authority for worker protection on construction sites, demonstrate the successes various organizations have achieved by implementing these programs and practices, and summarize the available cost and benefit data on these programs.
Some agencies, national and international organizations, and trade associations involved in construction have developed recommendations or requirements for management practices designed to reduce hazards and protect the safety and health of construction workers. Exhibit 1 summarizes these provisions in a format that permits a comparison of requirements across organizational lines; Exhibit 2 sets forth individual requirements in detail. The safety codes summarized in this section have been excerpted from:
(29 CFR Part 1926), Construction Standards;
- Corps of Engineers (1992), Safety and Health Requirements Manual;
- Bureau of Reclamation (1987), Construction Safety Standards;
of Energy (1993), Construction Project Safety and Health
Management Order (draft);
National Standards, Basic Elements of an Employer Program to
Provide a Safe and Healthful Work Environment, ANSI A10.38-1991;
National Standard for Construction and Demolition Operations-
Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, ANSI
of General Contractors (AGC) (1992), Manual of Accident
Prevention in Construction;
Labour Organization (ILO) (1992), Safety and Health in
Construction: A Code of Practice; and
of the European Communities (EC) Directive 92/57/EEC (1992),
Implementation of Minimum Safety and Health Requirements at Temporary or
Mobile Construction Sites.
As Exhibit 1 shows, most of these codes emphasize safety and health program and plan development, hazard prevention and control, work site inspections, and employee training. The programs, practices, and procedures described in the standards, safety manuals, and publications of these organizations are outlined on the following pages.
(Note* Browsers do not display the wide tables conveniently for Exhibits I and II: Use PDF's for viewing/printing)
Authors writing in the trade literature and in academic publications agree that the starting point for any program designed to foster safety on construction work sites is the commitment of management to safety and health. This means that management must consider worker protection the company's top priority and be willing to spend time and money on program development, safety equipment, and employee training.
One of the best ways management can demonstrate its commitment to safety is the development of a comprehensive, written safety and health program that is performance oriented and general enough to cover the complete range of projects conducted by the company or organization. This document should establish and communicate a clear goal for the program and define objectives for meeting that goal. To unequivocally demonstrate its commitment, top management must actively participate and be "visible" during program implementation.
Copies of the document outlining the program should be distributed to all employees. The written information should include the basics of personal protective equipment, the proper use of tools and power equipment, safe work practices, and any company policies that exceed OSHA requirements (e.g., employees must wear hard hats from project start to finish, even if there is no threat of injury from falling objects). The written program should also outline procedures for formally evaluating or auditing the occupational safety and health program's effectiveness at least once a year.
A written, site-specific safety plan should also be kept at each work site At a minimum, this plan should include information on safety responsibilities, emergency procedures, and provisions for hazard communication, accident prevention, inspections, grounded electrical systems, record keeping, personal protective equipment, and housekeeping. Many employers append operation-specific safety procedures for various phases of construction activities, e.g., hoisting and rigging, or demolition. This plan should be readily available to all employees at the work site
All of the organizations whose programs are summarized in Exhibit 2 require that the prime contractor (also called the construction employer or constructor) develop a safety and health program and safe operating procedures. Although the requirements of each plan vary, most designate administrative procedures, responsible personnel, methods of controlling and coordinating the work of subcontractors, inspection plans, specific safety programs (e.g., fire protection, fall protection), and plans for conducting hazard analyses as the project progresses.
The corresponding OSHA requirement (29 CFR 1926.20(b)(1)) does not require a written safety and health program.
To ensure that safety is consistently given priority in decision-making, the responsibilities of each member of the organization--from top management to individual construction worker--must be spelled out in the safety and health program. But merely assigning responsibility does not suffice: each person must be held accountable for his/her safety performance, and each individual assigned such responsibilities must be given adequate authority and resources to meet them. Control systems to ensure that responsibilities are being met must therefore be in place. There are different ways of achieving this objective: some companies require that the recordable injury rate for each supervisor be factored into annual review and promotion decisions, while others use a formal tracking system that allows supervisors with good safety records to earn bonuses (LaBar 1992; Walters 1983).
Employees must also be held accountable for complying with safety policies and procedures. The company's overall program should contain a disciplinary component that is clearly expressed, and employees who violate safety procedures should be subject to disciplinary action. The program should establish a hierarchy of disciplinary measures, beginning with verbal and written warnings, proceeding to formal meetings with management, followed by suspension, and, ultimately, by termination.
As Exhibit 2 shows, all of the organizations whose policies were reviewed for this study have requirements governing the designation of personnel responsible for project safety. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) Manual of Accident Prevention in Construction states simply that "line management should be responsible for reviewing the objectives of the accident prevention program," while the Corps of Engineers Safety and Health Requirements Manual states that the responsibilities of all personnel involved in the worker protection program must be set forth in writing, and that each employee's area of accountability must be delineated in the accident prevention plan.
The corresponding OSHA requirement (29 CFR 1926.20(b)(1)) is nonspecific on this point.
There is general agreement in the literature and among safety professionals that employee involvement in the design and operation of the safety and health program is critically important. Workers are the ultimate "shareholders" in work site safety and health; their familiarity with their jobs and with conditions at the site can translate into a unique contribution to safety and health decision-making and to accident prevention. Informed workers who are involved in the program assume responsibility for conducting their work safely and for fostering safe work practices across the site. Employee involvement can take a variety of forms: participation in the development of safety programs and in workplace inspections, membership on joint labor/management committees, and active participation in accident and "near-miss" investigations.
Many of the organizations whose programs are outlined in Exhibit 2 actively encourage employee participation. For example, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Council of the European Communities (EC), the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy, and the ANSI standard for multi-employer work sites all stress the importance of employee involvement. Joint labor/management committees are required by the Department of Energy's major occupational safety and health Order (DOE 5483.XX, still in draft) and are encouraged by the ILO, while the Corps of Engineers and the ANSI multi-employer standard both recommend employee input in the development of job safety analyses and activity hazard analyses.
There are no specific requirements for employee involvement in OSHA's construction standards.
The construction environment is complex, physically demanding, and hazardous, and workers engaged in construction operations must be physically, mentally, and emotionally qualified to perform their jobs safely. Employee fitness can affect the worker's own safety as well as that of coworkers. Most of the policies outlined in Exhibit 2 make at least a general statement on the importance of overall fitness; some standards, manuals, and codes also specifically prohibit alcohol and drug use on site, and some set specific requirements for operators of specialized equipment, e.g., cranes and excavators.
OSHA has a general requirement (29 CFR 1926.20(b)(4)) stating that employers shall permit only qualified employees to operate machinery and equipment.
Hazard identification begins with analyses of the specific hazards associated with various operations. Through a study of all work site conditions as well as of each worker's job and each major phase of activity, work site analyses identify the specific safety, health, and ergonomic hazards associated with a particular operation or process. When the tasks performed by workers assigned to a specific job are analyzed, the result is a "Job Hazard Analysis" (JHA) or "Job Safety Analysis" (JSA); a preliminary review of a major phase of project activity is called an "Activity Hazard Analysis," or AHA. Some organizations also mandate a "Preliminary Hazard Analysis," or PHA; by definition, a PHA is performed before any work on the project begins.The objectives of hazard analysis are to:
The standards and codes of practice developed by the Corps, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy, and ANSI require that each contractor responsible for conducting a particular phase of work (e.g., trenching, concrete work, and masonry) develop an operation- or phase-specific preliminary hazard analysis describing the hazards associated with that phase of the project, methods of reducing or eliminating them, equipment to be used and inspection requirements for equipment, and phase-specific training requirements.
OSHA has no corresponding requirements.
Managing work site hazards effectively is perhaps the single most important element in reducing occupational injuries and fatalities. It is also essential that safe work procedures be established and communicated to employees. In the dynamic atmosphere of a construction work site, hazard prevention and control require careful planning, analysis of the hazards associated with each major phase of the project (see "Hazard Analysis," above), the design and application of the controls necessary to eliminate or mitigate identified hazards, and routine inspections of the work site and enforcement of safety rules to ensure that equipment is being maintained and that site conditions pose no unnecessary risks.
Provisions must also be made to abate any hazards identified through implementation of corrective actions; in all but a few cases, abatement should occur immediately so that work can continue safely. In those cases where immediate hazard abatement is not possible, interim measures that provide employees with full protection should be implemented, and signs should be posted to warn employees of the danger.
Although 29 CFR 1926 does not address hazard prevention and control by name, it does contain a few provisions--such as those for frequent inspections and housekeeping--that address this issue (see, for example, 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2) and 1926.25). As Exhibit 2 shows, most of the codes and standards developed later by other organizations contain specific requirements or recommendations addressing hazard prevention and control.
Frequent work site inspections are essential to maintaining safe conditions on construction sites. These should be conducted by competent persons and should include inspections of the work site, equipment, and all materials to be used in performance of the job. Workers should be encouraged to report unsafe conditions to their supervisors promptly, and any unsafe practices identified should be immediately corrected.
Many organizations recommend or require daily inspections because of the dynamic nature of construction work sites, and some require documentation of the results, along with immediate correction of any deficiencies identified. OSHA, the ILO, the EC, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the AGC do not specify inspection frequencies, suggesting only that such audits be conducted at "frequent" or "periodic" intervals.
Because hazards may develop quickly on construction work sites and accidents may involve more than one employee, emergency response planning is essential. Most of the publications reviewed for this project require that the accident prevention or safety plan specifically address foreseeable emergencies; most also require that all employees at the site be made aware of appropriate emergency procedures. Some, such as the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation manuals, require that employees be trained in these procedures and that the procedures be tested, through drills or other exercises, to ensure their effectiveness. Emergency telephone numbers (e.g., to obtain medical aid, police assistance) must generally be available at the work site
First-aid facilities are common on construction sites; however, the presence of medical personnel or medical facilities is generally reserved for exceptionally large sites or for those located in remote areas. All of the safety manuals and standards reviewed, except the ANSI multi-employer standard, require that first aid be available. Requirements range from the broad statement that procedures for first aid shall be established (in the ANSI standard (A10.38)) to the detailed requirements of the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation manuals, which reflect the fact that these agencies often oversee projects in remote areas and must therefore provide on-site medical facilities and personnel.
Almost all of the organizations whose programs are summarized in Exhibit 2 recognize the importance of accurate accident reporting, investigation, and analysis of reports to identify trends and determine the root causes of workplace accidents. Some go beyond OSHA requirements and mandate or recommend that the accident history of each contractor and subcontractor be reported separately (see, for example, the Corps of Engineers Manual, the draft DOE Order, and the ANSI multi-employer standard). These more specific accident recording and reporting requirements recognize that the failure to break down injury statistics by contractor and subcontractor can mask the poor safety performance of particular contractors or subcontractors; the maintenance of separate statistics for each contractor and subcontractor is a practice recommended by the construction safety literature and increasingly practiced in the industry. An equally important element of accurate reporting is consistency among contractors and subcontractors in ways of defining lost-time injuries.
Training is an essential component of any safety and health program; its effectiveness often depends on the degree to which it is tailored to the hazards of the particular work site and job. Supervisors, who have day-to-day responsibility for safety and health, must be trained in hazard identification and control as well as in methods of encouraging safe practices and providing effective feedback.
Almost all of the organizations whose policies are outlined in Exhibit 2 recognize the importance of employee training, although some spell out their requirements in greater detail than others. Several require that different kinds of training be offered at different times during the project. For example, some employers may require an initial, formal orientation session, followed by informal weekly "tool box" meetings that address safety or health topics directly relevant to the work being undertaken at the time. The Corps, Bureau of Reclamation, both ANSI standards, and the AGC also require supervisor safety training, and several of these groups mandate job-specific training for high-hazard work assignments or conditions (e.g., toxic substance handling, unusual heat or cold, exposure to ionizing radiation). A feature unique among the training programs analyzed is a requirement in the draft DOE construction safety management Order that all employees engaged in a particular phase of a project receive training in the hazards identified in a phase-specific Activity Hazard Analysis. On Corps, DOE, and Bureau of Reclamation sites, attendance at training sessions must also be documented.
Joint labor-management safety committees provide a frequently used and widely recommended vehicle for encouraging employee involvement in the safety and health program. Such committees provide a means for employees to actively participate in safety and health decision-making, receive additional training in hazard identification and control methods, and share their knowledge of hazards and related problems with management. Informed workers also provide an excellent way of leveraging scarce occupational safety and health resources effectively. For example, members of some committees carry out regular inspections of the construction site and make recommendations for hazard control. For joint committees to be successful, they must encourage and reward open discussion of health and safety issues and candid two-way communication between workers and management. These committees should have direct access to top management, hold regularly scheduled meetings, work from an established agenda, keep minutes, and distribute health and safety information to the employees they represent.
safety and health on construction projects is complicated by the
presence on site of many employers, work crews, and tradespeople,
as well as by the ever-changing nature of construction work. The
contractual and working relationships among these entities and individuals
are also complex, and lines of authority, reporting relationships,
and work activities must be carefully coordinated if appropriate
attention is to be paid to worker safety and health.
Prime contractors are increasingly reviewing the safety records and programs of subcontractors before contracting with them; in some cases, the prime contractor develops a project-specific safety plan that is binding on all subcontractors working on the project. In other cases, the prime contractor conducts weekly safety talks with various subcontractor work crews. Another approach is to have the prime contractor conduct frequent (daily to weekly) inspections of subcontractor work areas and to stop work if serious deficiencies are identified.
All of the publications and standards surveyed for this study address contractor/subcontractor relationships, although the amount of attention dedicated to the topic varies widely. OSHA has no requirements for contractor/subcontractor coordination for the industry as a whole, although specific construction standards, e.g., the construction industry Hazard Communication Standard, contain requirements for multi-employer coordination.
As demonstrated by this review of the requirements and recommendations of the major organizations involved in construction, increasing emphasis is being placed on the implementation of a defined set of safety management practices; this trend is exemplified by the manual developed by the Corps of Engineers. The following section of this study reports on the effectiveness of a number of health and safety programs already in place.
Although the development of safety and health programs, plans, and procedures is the essential first step in construction safety and health, effective implementation and enforcement of these policies must follow if measurable results are to be achieved. The Corps of Engineers has a reputation for effective oversight of its projects and for achieving accident and injury rates substantially below the national average for comparable construction work. This reputation is backed up by hard evidence: OSHA recently reported (OSHA 1992) that the Corps achieved a lost workday case rate of between 1.34 and 1.54 per 100 full-time workers in the period 1984-1988. In other words, by insisting that all of its contractors develop, implement, and enforce comprehensive worker protection programs on all of its sites, the Corps of Engineers achieved a lost-workday case rate 70 to 80 percent below the national average for the construction industry in the same period (6.8 to 6.9 cases per 100 full-time workers). To determine what practices the Corps actually implements on site, Meridian interviewed personnel from the Corps National Office (personal communications, Donald Pettenger, February 1993).
First, the Corps uses the Federal Acquisition Regulations, which govern Corps contracts, to incorporate safety into the procurement process from the very beginning. For exarnple, it requires that its contractors "have the necessary organization, experience, accounting and operations controls, and technical skills...including...safety programs" in place, and that all contracts include a clause requiring compliance with the Corps' Health and Safety Requirements Manual. Inclusion of this clause gives the Contracting Officer authority to stop work if a contractor fails to take corrective action for any hazard that poses a serious or imminent danger to employee safety and health.
direct involvement with a contractor's construction safety management
program begins even before work is initiated. A contractor must
submit and receive Corps
In addition, every project has an assigned Corps quality control officer whose duties include project safety. For larger projects, the quality control officer is generally on site at all times during the project; even for smaller projects, he/she can be expected to inspect the site at least once a week. The work of each quality control officer is also routinely and regularly reviewed by a safety professional in each Corps district, and there are trained and experienced safety professionals at each level of the Corps hierarchy.
Thus, the Corps ensures compliance with its construction safety management requirements through:
Other success stories from the literature include:
These cases, as well as other success stories, are illustrated in summary form in Exhibit 3, which follows this section of the report.
|Bechtel Construction co.||
International contractor with 32,000 workers
1 million worker hours without a lost-time accident
Recipient of National Constructors Association Annual Accident Prevention Award in 35 of 36 years
Site safety and health program contractually binding on all employers on project; will dissolve contract if subcontractor found to be in noncompliance
Written safety and health program
Supervisors attend safety and health workshop at beginning of each project and during peak activity
|Gulf States, Inc.||
Specialty trade contractor
2,000 employees on construction and maintenance projects in United States
1989 CISE Constructor Award Recipient*
0.88 in 1986
EMR = 0.55 in 1989
Estimated savings to Gulf States and construction industry (1986-89):
Improvement Process (CIP): all employees responsible for instituting
On-going training emphasis
Drug program: screening conducted pre-assignment, at random, and post accident
Selection of subcontractors includes consideration of safety record: OSHA Form 200 incident rate, drug and safety program
Management commitment to setting goals and measuring performance
Complete accident/incident data, including near-misses, must be reported by employees, subcontractors, suppliers, vendors and owners with written report to corporate level in 24 hours; investigation required
Weekly safety meetings
Hazardous work permits
Equipment inspected before each use
Monthly safe audits
|M. B. Kahn Construction||General
contractor and construction manager, based in Columbia, SC
9--1991 Three-year estimated program savings of $725,000; yearly distribution of $30,000 + in awards and bonuses
Written safety program
In-house competition, recognition and wards that capitalize on strong competitive spirit among construction workers including:
|Mecklenburg County (NC) Engineering Department||County
government department responsible for maintaining waterways, landfills,
and performing some construction
200 employees working in 4 separate teams
related injuries reduced from 73 in 1985 to 29 in 1990
Associated costs reduced form $53,000 to $15,000
hazard analysis by management preceded implementation
Tool box safety meetings at frequency decided by work crew
Safety performance awards-vacation time-given quarterly to entire team, not individual workers
Display of injury records on daily basis Annual prize to team with best safety performance
|Monsanto Chemical Co.||Chemicals,
detergents, man-made fibers, and some construction operations
200+ union and open shop contractors
1989 CISE Owner Award Recipient*
reduction in total injuries since 1986
Estimated savings to Mosanto and industry: $22 million in direct and indirect costs
Business Roundtable recommendations from A-3 Report
Decentralized management: site managers have primary responsibility for safety in field
Instituted comprehensive safety management program including:
|Pizzagalli Construction Co.||Heavy
30 work sites in 10 states
worker compensation costs reduced 76% from 1986 to 1988
General liability costs dropped 96% from 1986-88
Approximately $1 million returned in worker compensation premiums in 1988 due to improved safety record
including mandatory site orientation and weekly safety meetings
Awards and incentives, including monthly safe project award, yearly superintendent award and savings bonds for hourly field employees
Drug and alcohol testing when accident occurs
Personal safety equipment inspection program
Management commitment to safety
|Shamrock Farrell Construction Co.||General
150 employees CISE* and National Safety Award winner
|Low worker compensation costs; increased productivity||Free
flow of communication between hourly workers, supervisors, and managers,
in keeping with modern management principles
Management reviews every accident, including first-aid incidents
Tool box safety talks daily and whenever workers move to new site
Weekly safety training sessions
Local safety council used for low-cost consulting and training
Gift certificates and small gifts to reward safety excellence
|Sheil Oil Co.||Oil,
gas, and chemical company
30,000 + employees
1990 CISE Owner Award Recipient*
1989 incident rate: 1/10th national average
Lost-workday rate steadily declining since 1985
savings/per year for Shell and contractors:
Comprehensive construction safety program including:
Safety representative for every project
Weekly and quarterly safety meetings
Accident reporting to management within 48 hours; investigation required
*Construction Industry Safety
Excellence Award, given by the Business Roundtable
This chapter analyzes the costs and benefits of implementing a comprehensive worker protection program in the construction industry. It also estimates the potential net benefits and rates of return associated with such programs.
Documented information on the costs of implementing worker protection programs in construction is scarce, although some work has been done in this area. For example, the Pizzagalli Construction Company estimates that its program costs about $100,000 annually. The Business Roundtable, citing data collected from a significant sample of contractors working at various construction sites in 1980, reports that "the cost of administering a construction safety and health program usually amounts to about 2.5 percent of direct labor costs. Among the costs of administering such a program, the Roundtable lists salaries for safety, medical, and clerical personnel and the costs of conducting safety meetings, inspecting tools and equipment, conducting orientation sessions, carrying out inspections, providing personal protective equipment, and providing miscellaneous supplies and equipment. Projecting to 1990 on the basis of the Roundtable's data, the cost of such programs for the industry as a whole would have been approximately $2 billion.
The most direct way of estimating the benefits potentially associated with worker protection programs in this industry is to look at the costs of the work-related construction injuries these programs would prevent. There is substantial agreement among unions, industry representatives, and academic researchers about the unacceptably high human costs of current injury and fatality rates in the construction industry. There are, however, some differences of opinion on how best to measure the economic impact of work-related accidents. Hinze and Applegate (1991) calculated an average direct cost of $519.14 for every medical case injury and an average direct cost of $6,909.98 for every restricted-activity/lost-workday case; they calculated the ratio of indirect to direct costs as 4:1 for medical-case injuries and 20:1 for restricted-activity/lost-workday cases. Among the indirect costs associated with construction accidents are those related to lost productivity, disrupted work schedules, administrative time for investigations and reports, training replacement personnel, paying wages to injured workers and other workers for time not worked, cleaning up and repairing damages, adverse publicity, and third-party liability claims against the contractor (Chaney 1991). If these authors' estimates of the direct costs of injuries and lost workdays are projected to the construction industry as a whole, the total direct costs in 1991 would have been $2.1 billion; the total direct and indirect costs of work-related injuries for the industry as a whole in 1990 would have been $40.4 billion. The Business Roundtable (1982) reports that the ratio between indirect and direct costs ranges from 4:1 to 17:1, depending on the particular study. Overall, the Roundtable's Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project estimates that accident costs account for 6.5 percent of industrial, utility, and commercial construction costs. If this percentage is projected to the construction industry as a whole, the total costs of accidents in 1990 would have been $28.2 billion. Thus, these sources agree that work related accidents and injuries are costing employers in this sector between $28 and $40 billion annually.
Several studies suggest that accident and injury costs can be significantly reduced by the implementation of effective worker protection programs. For example, the Business Roundtable found that, for a sample of contractors with good construction safety and health programs, the average OSHA recordable injury incidence rate for 1977 to 1980 was only 36 percent of the average rate for the construction industry as a whole (as published by the National Safety Council). In 1980, according to the Roundtable, these contractors had workers' compensation losses averaging 6.1 cents per hour worked; had they experienced losses at the national average, their losses would have been 16.9 cents per hour, almost 3 times as much (Business Roundtable, January 1982). If implementing comparable programs industry-wide is assumed to reduce injury rates for the construction industry as a whole by a comparable percentage, the savings would be between $10.3 billion (using the Hinze and Applegate estimate) and $18.0 billion (using the Roundtable estimate). The experience reported by one Vermont-based construction company--Pizzagalli Construction-confirms the benefits of these programs. Since 1986, their worker protection program has reduced the company's workers' compensation costs by 76 percent, from $896,603 annually to $213,328, for a $683,275 per-year saving; between 1986 and 1988, the firm's general liability insurance costs dropped by 96 percent, from $407,867 to $16,731, for a savings of $391,136 in a 3-year period.
The potential net savings of worker protection programs in this sector are thus substantial. Based on Business Roundtable data, industry-wide programs costing $2 billion per year could achieve cost savings of $10.3 to $18 billion per year, for a net savings of $8.3 to $16 billion per year for the construction industry as a whole. The ratio of cost savings to program costs for these programs is thus between five to one and nine to one. The work of Barrie and Pulsion (1984) confirms this estimate: these authors report that, for each dollar invested in safety, a $4 to $8 return can be expected. Other estimates of the potential net savings of these programs are more conservative but still impressive. For example, Levitt and Samuelson (1987) state that "the minimum net savings to be expected from introducing an effective safety management program is 4 percent of direct labor costs." If this percentage is extrapolated to the construction industry as a whole, such programs would have saved $4.4 billion in costs in 1990. The US Corps of Engineers reports that compliance with its safety standards achieves a minimum cost savings for its contractors of 0.5 to 1.0 percent of total project costs, mostly in the form of reduced workers' compensation costs (personal communication, Dan Peterson, Corps of Engineers, February 1993). If extrapolated to the construction industry as a whole, this would mean a net cost savings in 1990 dollars of $2.2 to $4.4 billion.
Aside from cost savings, effective worker protection programs in construction have been credited with a number of indirect benefits, including improved communication within the organization (Mattila and Hyodyomaa 1988), increases in productivity and production due to a decrease in accidents and injuries (Lattanzio 1991), and a beneficial effect on labor management relations (Boden, Hall, Levenstein, and Punnett 1984).
These case studies and qualitative assessments of the practices of some major organizations active in construction demonstrate that introducing safe management practices can have dramatic impacts on accident and injury rates. In addition, the experience of many firms and organizations indicates that the costs of implementing such programs are only a fraction of those associated with work site accidents. In summary, worker protection programs that are characterized by management commitment, employee involvement, work site analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training offer the best hope of breaking the cycle of injury, death, and spiraling costs that threatens to overwhelm this industry.
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OVERVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
A review of the recent (post-1980) construction industry literature* reveals that, like OSHA, firms in this sector are concerned with the human costs associated with high injury and fatality rates; the spiraling workers' compensation costs associated with construction accidents are also a major issue. The recent literature can be classified under three headings:
and trade literature, which focuses on the implementation of safe
studies, which address the attitudes of workers and managers to
safety issues and ways of changing them; and
- Articles describing specific construction safety management programs.
The business and trade literature emphasizes mechanisms for making workplace safety a management priority, and thus implicitly acknowledges the importance of management commitment to the achievement of a safe working environment. Topics covered include:
- The importance
of compiling accident statistics by individual contractor,
facility, and project;
- The importance
of reviewing safety performance by quantifying and analyzing
accident rates, workers' compensation costs, and the indirect costs of accidents; and
- The savings that can be generated by evaluating the safety records of contractors during the bidding process.
In general, studies in the business management literature focus on the safety performance of specific companies rather than on the relative effectiveness of any particular component of the company's program. The authors' main objective is to encourage construction managers to emulate the practices of the best firms in the industry or to emphasize the importance of considering safety performance when choosing a contractor.
research studies focus on issues such as the effectiveness of
feedback mechanisms, attitudes toward safety, the influence of unionization
on safety practices, and the effectiveness of training. There is
general agreement among authors that involving employees in accident
prevention programs and providing safety training to all workers
on the site are essential to success. The literature recognizes
that younger workers and nonunionized workers are particularly vulnerable
to injuries and that reaching these groups requires special effort
(Eastern Research Group 1991). .
* Appendix A contains a brief overview of the recent literature, abstracts of the articles and books reviewed for this study, and a bibliography of these sources.
The literature on construction management practices tends to be anecdotal, and it is primarily concerned with "success stories." For example, one of the better studies of this kind describes the experience of the Pizzagalli Construction Company, a Vermont-based heavy construction firm with approximately 30 worksites in 10 States along the East coast (Bruening 1989). In the three years after Pizzagalli implemented a construction safety management program, recordable injuries were reduced by almost 48 percent, the lost-workday rate fell by 33 percent, and workers' compensation costs were cut by 76 percent. Improved training, including an initial orientation program for new employees and weekly safety talks for all employees, was considered the key to the success of this program. Other important elements, according to Pizzagalli, were a drug and alcohol abuse program, incentive awards for safety performance, and equipment inspections that were both more detailed and more frequent than those required by OSHA.
In summary, the recent literature on the construction industry is unanimous in emphasizing the importance of management's role in achieving worksite safety. This focus is even more appropriate in construction than in general industry because of the dynamic nature of construction work: the changes in hazards and work crews associated with the various phases of a construction project make active and continuous management involvement and oversight essential if a safe work environment is to be maintained. For example, annual compliance self-inspections performed by the employer may be adequate for the fixed-work- station, steady-state operations typical of most general-industry production facilities, but daily (and sometimes even more frequent) inspections are necessary on most construction sites.
All of the articles and publications reviewed here were published after 1980. For ease of discussion, the literature is grouped into the three categories identified previously: business management literature, behavioral research studies, and reviews of construction safety and health programs. The first category includes literature on construction cost accounting, insurance, liability, and the bidding process. The second category consists largely of experimental studies that evaluate the effectiveness of behavior modification techniques in improving safety performance. The final category includes articles underlining the need for safety management and reports describing specific practices that can be incorporated into worksite safety and health programs. Some of the comprehensive texts cited span all three categories. In these cases, cross-references to other categories are provided. The review highlights key management concepts and practices; for details on methodology or program implementation, the reader is directed to the original text. This appendix first discusses the major themes that emerge in each category of literature, while the final section contains reviews of the major articles and publications, grouped by category.
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT LITERATURE
One of the most comprehensive sources of business management literature on construction safety is the Business Roundtable. The Roundtable is a 215-member association representing some of the largest firms in all business sectors, including major buyers of construction services. In the early 1980s, the Business Roundtable launched an ambitious study, the "Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project" (Business Roundtable 1982) in an attempt to analyze and improve cost effectiveness in this industry. Safety was one of the topics studied, and safety and skills training have since been identified as the two areas likeliest to lead to the greatest improvements in cost effectiveness. An important aspect of the Business Roundtable's 1982 report, and a topic which is also discussed in Levitt and Samelson's (1987) text on construction safety management, is the role buyers of construction services can play in influencing safety. Dick Kibben, head of the Business Roundtable's construction research project, states that the Roundtable emphasizes construction purchasers for two reasons. The first is group membership: many Roundtable members are major buyers of construction services; the second, and perhaps more significant, has to do with the structure of the construction industry, which is characterized by numerous small firms. Ninety percent of all construction firms--general contractors, heavy construction contractors, and subcontractors--have fewer than 20 employees. These firms account for 44 percent of the 5 million construction employees counted by the Census Bureau in 1987. Only 23 percent of all construction employers, or fewer than 1 percent of firms, are represented by establishments of 100 or more employees.* According to Kibben, a surprising number of contractors do not know their own experience modification rate (EMR), a multiplier applied to the contractor's workers' compensation premium based on past safety performance. Because the technical capabilities necessary to manage costs and track safety performance may not be readily available at small firms, the Roundtable and other analysts view construction services purchasers as a leverage point in safety management. By making a contractor's safety record part of the competitive bidding process, construction buyers indirectly manage safety by awarding contracts to those firms with the best safety performance. Safety performance is reflected in a firm's EMR, OSHA incidence rates for recordable injuries and illnesses, and formal safety management policies. When safety is well-managed, injury and lost-time incidence rates can be reduced to a fraction of those reported by the National Safety Council; firms chosen by Roundtable members have an injury incidence rate of approximately 3/200,000 exposure hours and a lost-time incidence rate of 0.02/200,000 exposure hours, compared with national averages of 14 and 6 per 200,000 exposure hours, respectively. The Roundtable estimates that the savings potentially achievable through effective safety management are approximately 4 percent of project costs (Business Roundtable 1982).
In a follow-up companion publication to the 1983 Report, "The Workers' Compensation Crisis... Safety Excellence Will Make a Difference" (Business Roundtable 1991), the Roundtable offered the following recommendations for owners or construction services buyers:
- Understand how the workers' compensation premium is affected by work site accidents;
- Require contractors to provide, for the past three years, their State workers' compensation insurance rate sheets and OSHA 200 logs;
- Establish target EMR's and injury and lost-time incidence rates to prequalify contractors, and allow only those contractors who meet these targets to bid;
- Ensure that all contractors bidding have and implement on-site safety perform- ance programs;
- Commit to a "zero injury" goal at the highest management level, encourage the same commitment in contractor companies, and require routine and frequent safety performance reports be sent to the CEO;
a lost-time accident, conduct a site visit within 24 hours with
top management from owner and contractor companies to review accident
safe performance; and
- Maintain separate accident statistics for each contractor on the site.
* These figures are from the Construction Statistics Division of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
An establishment is a physical business location; a single firm may have multiple establishments.
In its publications on construction cost-effectiveness, the Business Roundtable does not discuss the use of accounting methods that will reflect the true costs of accidents. This issue was addressed by Stanford University, however, in a 2-year study in which 13 companies agreed to use the Stanford Accident Cost Accounting System, designed to highlight accident costs. (The results of this study are discussed in Levitt and Samelson (1987). Although participating companies found that the accounting system only captured direct costs, its use increased management awareness of the high pnce of accidents. Circulating an accounting report that reflected accident costs to project managers and supervisors also increased the sense of accountability for safety. Levitt and Samelson, as well as other authors, enumerate the indirect costs of accidents, which may include delays and overtime; loss of work crew efficiency; training of replacement workers; clean-up, repair, or replacement of damaged equipment; work rescheduling; costs for safety and clerical personnel time related to the accident; OSHA fines; and the cost of legal assistance. Studies of the ratio of direct to indirect costs, as reported in this literature review, indicate that this ratio can range from 4:1 for medical injury cases to 20:1 for restricted-activity or lost-time injuries in construction.
Contractor liability for overall site safety is also a significant management concern. Although there is some disagreement among authors on the best method for handling liability when negotiating for the services of contractors and subcontractors, a recurring point is that construction managers cannot shield themselves from liability for safety and that the best way to avoid liability is for management to be an active participant in the safety program, as demonstrated by written policies and actions. This emphasis on management commitment, considered one of the most important components of any safety program, is echoed in the behavioral research and occupational safety and health program literature.
The two major themes explored in construction safety behavioral research are causal attribution and motivation. As it relates to safety management, attribution research examines how the perception of causality for an accident affects the structure of a safety program. Generally speaking, individuals tend to "over attribute" accidents to workers, or in other words to assume that greater care by the worker could have prevented an accident even in cases where this is obviously not true. This attitude often finds expression in punitive safety programs with numerous rules and regulations, but little communication between labor and management. In a review article on attribution research, DeJoy (1985) summarizes its implications for safety programs: (1) workplace accidents should be investigated by a qualified person from outside the workgroup and not tied to line management; (2) summaries of all accident investigations should be disseminated to all workers and managers involved; (3) safety messages in all forms should be carefully developed to take into account the sources of bias that may influence the recipient's interpretation of the message; (4) a plan should be developed for reporting and analyzing near-miss and minor-loss accidents; (5) supervisor safety training should touch on the issue of attributional bias and its implications for accident investigations; and (6) managers need to be made aware of the multi-causal nature of accidents and the need to integrate safety into the total management system.
Recent studies (Fellner and Sulzer-Azaroff 1984; Zohar 1980) on motivating safe performance suggest that immediate, posted feedback is an effective, economical way to improve performance and increase the use of personal protective equipment. In the studies cited, the immediate posting of inspection results in a location accessible to workers significantly improved work conditions and practices, and immediate posting of auditory test results significantly increased earplug usage, even among new workers. Researchers suggest that posting feedback heightens awareness and improves communication, encouraging safe behavior among both workers and management.
WORKER PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN CONSTRUCTION
This heading covers literature that provides company and industry statistics on the need for safety management as well as articles that identify specific safe management practices. In a Business Roundtable study (1989) of worker absenteeism and turnover, unsafe conditions were found to be the primary factor leading to worker absences. Unsafe behavior and ignorance about safe practices were found by two authors to be more common among young workers, although a study of fatal construction injuries in Washington State found higher mortality from injuries among older workers (Buskin 1987). The importance of man aging safety is summarized in a recent article by LaBar: more than 2,000 deaths and 630,000 injuries result yearly from construction accidents, for an annual cost to the industry of $30 billion. LaBar's 1992 article and several others offer specific management recommendations, some of which were provided to the authors by companies with successful safety records.
Throughout the literature, the importance of demonstrating management commitment to safety is emphasized. For example, Dedobbeleer (1987) found that a worker's attitude toward safe performance might be less related to training than to management's attitude toward safety. A second key element of effective safety management was a written site safety program. The most succinct summary of effective safety management practices is provided by the Business Roundtable's 1991 publication, "The Workers' Compensation Crisis...Safety Excellence Will Make a Difference." In future editions of this publication, the Roundtable will track the experience of 11 owner firms and 32 contractor firms it has recognized in its Construction Industry Safety Excellence Award Program. All of these companies set a zero-injury goal and use some or all of the following practices to achieve it:
- Prequalification of potential contractors;
- Safety performance hurdle rates for qualifying contractors;
- Safety-specific contract language;
- Substance abuse program;
- Absentee and turnover audits;
orientation, which includes:
- Accident/incident reporting requirements;
- Emergency phone system/numbers; and
- Emergency alarms/responses;
training, which covers:
- Basic safety rules and emergency procedures;
- Hazard communication (Right To Know);
- Lock-out/tag-out procedures;
- Proper use of respirators; and
- Heavy equipment certification;
- Attitude and behavior;
- Disciplinary guidelines;
- Accident/incident reporting and investigation; and
- Incentives/recognition programs;
- Weekly Safety Meetings
- Site safety inspections;
- Hazardous work permits;
- Constructor safety performance evaluation;
- Statistical reporting and feedback; and
- Recognition of superior safety performance.
This report's specific recommendations for owner firms or buyers of construction services are listed in the business management section of this summary. Below are some of the specific suggestions for contractor firms:
- Understand the total workers' compensation insurance premium (WCIP) concept and how it is affected by worksite accidents.
- Ascertain that the manual rate classification codes used to calculate the WCIP accurately represent the work of the crafts employed.
- Set Experience Modification, Total Recordable Incidence and Total Lost Work- day Incidence "Hurdle Rates" as targets of acceptability for prequalifying sub- contractors, and allow only prequalified subcontractors to bid.
- Ensure that accident and injury reporting is immediate and has the highest pro file. The CEO should promptly receive a personal call when a lost-time, or potential lost-time, injury occurs.
- Insist that a jobsite visit by senior level executives of subcontractor, contrac tor, and owner occur no later than the day following a lost-time accident to re-> view what occurred and plan steps to prevent further incidents.
- Determine that dynamic safety programs are operational on the worksite at all times.
- Consider incentives for safety performance. Put a project level "cents per hour" incentive in place to reward craftspeople for lost-time and injury-free work.
- Ensure that management at all levels is evaluated on safety performance as well as other critical evaluation factors.
- Develop means to ensure that the costs of safety non-performance are charged to each project before the profit or loss generated by that project is calculated.
- Make the
goal of zero accidents a direct line management responsibility
from the CEO down to and including the workers at the jobsite.
DETAILED LITERATURE REVIEW
Start every meeting with emphasis on the safety performance of the company. Ensure that people at all levels understand that safety is of paramount importance.
Arden, P. Subcontract for safety first. Safety & Health, pp. 44-47. November, 1992.
This article discusses the importance of subcontractor safety to overall construction safety and particularly to the success of the prime contractor's work on any given project. Ways to ensure that subcontractors are serious about safety include:
- Making them complete a prequalifications questionnaire dealing with their safety record;
- Evaluating their Experience Modification Rate;
- Reviewing the subcontractor's OSHA 200 logs;
- Reviewing the subcontractor's formal safety program;
- Visiting a worksite of the subcontractor;
- Documenting the subcontractor's safety responsibilities in writing;
- Including safety requirements in contract documents;
- Requiring subcontractors to develop site-specific safety plans;
- Building awards or penalties for safe performance into the contract;
- Requiring subcontractors to have safety specialists; and
- Monitoring/auditing subcontractor's worksites regularly.
Britt, P. Owners own up to contractor safety. Safety & Health. National Safety Council, pp. 44-48, December 1993.
describes efforts to improve contract labor safety and health in
the petrochemical industry since 1989. It discusses the opinion,
reflected in recent court decisions and OSHA cases, that the company
that hires the contractor is responsible for the contractor's job
safety experience and also holds contractors responsible for subcontractor
job safety and health. OSHA penalties for the owner are "likely
to be double or triple that assessed against a guilty contractor,"
according to an attorney practicing before OSHRC.
Examples of how safety pays include Mobil Oil Corporation's experience at its Joliet Refinery: Mobil requires prospective contractors to fill out a questionnaire on workers' compensation/insurance experience and to furnish a written copy of their safety program. In addition, contractors must provide Mobil with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for all materials they intend to bring on site. Some companies require prospective contractors to pass a written safety and health proficiency examination.
a cooperative company/contractor safety training program for reducing
incidence rates to one-quarter the published industry average at
the Joliet Refinery. Incidents dropped 75 percent over 3 years after
the implementation of strict safety rules. This plant is a VPP site.
On a recently completed large construction project, the refinery's
incidents were one-seventh the industry's national average.
Burati, J.L., Matthews, M.F., and Kalidini, SN. Quality management in construction industry. Journal of Construction Engineering Management 117(2):341-359,1991
This article reports on a study of the management practices in place at 19 owner and contractor firms involved in heavy industrial, manufacturing, and commercial construction. It documents the introduction of total quality management (TQM) in the construction industry. A majority of the companies participating in the study have implemented or are implementing TQM techniques. A major finding was that personnel interviewed believe that safety, deadlines, cost, and quality are all equally important and are interdependent, i.e., that safe, high-quality projects are more likely than others to be on budget and on schedule. If personnel ranked these items separately, they ranked safety first, followed by quality, deadlines, and cost. Principal findings of the study were:
- Management participation in the implementation process is essential; and
- Topics and examples used in training should be integrated with the work processes of the individuals being trained.
Business Roundtable. 1988. Improving Construction Safety Performance: A Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project Report. Report A-3, January 1982.
This is the second report from Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness
Project. Among information provided a list of steps owners can
take to improve on-the job safety performance contractors. All with better-than-average records require their
contractors obtain work permits for specific activities. In awarding
contracts, good consider contractor's record. During construction, "safe owners" conduct formal
site inspections and regularly audit practices. They use goal-setting
reduce accidents keep statistics separately by contractor. Safe establish departments monitor confer contractors, stress pre-bid activities at
visits. Contract specifications often surpass OSHA regulations, themselves are frequently involved training sessions
on hazards procedures supervisors
workers. reviews Stanford University survey experience
modification rates (EMRs) workers' compensation identify potential
percentage variation insurance costs (and hence total project costs)
that occur as result variations performance. EMR, multiplier worker rates, varied study
50 205 percent. form was developed prequalify according attitudes practices; included printed report.>
This is the second report from the Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project. Among the information provided is a list of steps owners can take to improve the on-the job safety performance of contractors. All owners with better-than-average construction safety records require their contractors to obtain work permits for specific activities. In awarding contracts, owners with good safety performance consider the contractor's safety record. During construction, "safe owners" conduct formal site inspections and regularly audit con- tractors' safety practices. They use goal-setting with contractors to reduce accidents and they keep statistics separately by contractor. Safe owners establish construction safety departments to monitor and confer with contractors, and stress safety during pre-bid activities and at site visits. Contract specifications of safe owners often surpass OSHA regulations, and the owners themselves are frequently involved in training sessions on hazards and safety procedures for construction site supervisors and workers. This report reviews a Stanford University survey of experience modification rates (EMRs) for workers' compensation to identify the potential percentage variation in insurance costs (and hence total project costs) that occur as a result of variations in safety performance. The EMR, as a multiplier for worker compensation rates, varied in this study from 50 to 205 percent. A form was developed for use by owners to prequalify contractors according to their safety attitudes and practices; that form is included in the printed report.
Business Roundtable. The Workers' Compensation Crisis...Safety Excellence Will Make A Difference. Companion Publication to CICE Project Report A-3, 1991.
This safety management report from the Business Roundtable was published 9 years after the A-3 report. As the authors point out, despite efforts to reduce injury frequency, the OSHA Recordable Incidence Rates and Lost-Time Frequency Incidence Rates have not improved significantly since the original A-3 report was published in 1982. The report provides a brief history of worker compensation insurance and rate trends since 1979. Detailed explanations are given for calculating worker compensation insurance premiums in construction; these rates are based on 1) the EMR; 2) the manual rate (an insurance premium based on the type of work performed; and 3) payroll units (calculated by dividing the employer's total annual direct labor cost by 100). Manual rates vary widely among States and construction crafts. The average manual rate by craft--which suggests relative hazard--and a 50-State comparison of manual rates are provided. The report also describes briefly how workers' compensation insurance is provided in each State: with State as sole source, through State programs and specifically licensed companies, or through insurance companies alone. The equation for calculating the EMR is given and the effect of accidents on the EMR is discussed. Finally, using the safety programs of owner and contractor forms that have received the Roundtable's Award for Safety Excellence, the report lists the elements of an effective construction safety program. It then provides separate lists of management practice recommendations for owner and contractor companies.
Chaney, P. The hidden costs of jobsite accidents. Constructor 73(4):4~41, April 1991.
Chaney discusses the Experience Modification Rate (EMR), which is used in calculating workers' compensation premiums. The EMR is multiplied by a standard rate associated with a particular type of construction, and the EMR for a particular company is then determined by dividing the expected number of losses (as determined by the insurance industry) by the company's actual losses. The lower the EMR, the lower the company's workers' compensation rate.
A list of indirect cost elements is provided and an example is used to illustrate how the total cost of an accident compares with the amount paid out by workers' compensation. Contractors are advised that owners may consider a bidder's safety record and EMR when awarding contracts, and that an effective safety program (lower EMR) will make a bidder more competitive.
Freeman, S. 1990. Control of construction site safety. In: Proceedings of the National Conference on Construction Safety and Health, sponsored by the AFL-CIO and NIOSH, Seattle, WA, September 25-27, 1990.
Freeman's paper is a general discussion of the issue of contractor versus subcontractor management of project safety and the associated liability. He lists the pros and cons of general contractor control of subcontractor safety, and legal remedies that may protect thecontractor from excessive liability. He also offers a "Blueprint for Control of Construction Site Safety" that enumerates the safety responsibilities of construction managers (which could include general contractors, prime contractors, owners, engineers, or architects), and sub contractors. The Blueprint specifies and defines key job functions in the safety plan, including those of the project manager, safety professionals, subcontractor manager, crew supervisors, owners, architects, and engineers.
J. and Applegate, L. Cost of construction injuries. Journal of Construction
Engineering and Management 117(3):537-550, 1991.
Gorman, E.J., m. Workers' compensation: Labor/management proposals to reduce injuries and illness. In: Proceedings of the National Conference on Construction Health and Safety, Seattle, WA, September 25-27, 1990.
Both of these papers discuss the same study; they differ only in some of the comparisons they draw from the data. The goal of the study was to calculate the indirect costs of accidents: Heinrich suggested a four-to-one ratio of indirect to direct costs for construction in a 1931 paper; the more recent analysis was an attempt to re-examine that ratio. Participation was sought from member firms of the Construction Industry Institute, Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Constructors Association, and other contractor associations. A total of 573 injury reports from 103 construction firms were used for this analysis. A survey form that allowed calculation of indirect costs was developed and used for each accident report (this form is reprinted in the Hinze and Applegate paper). The figures that were derived show a ratio of 4:1 for medical injury cases and 20:1 for restricted activity or lost workday injuries. Cost comparisons by construction trade yielded no statistically significant differences, nor did comparisons between the ratios for merit shop and union shop projects. When stratified by type of contract, the data indicated that indirect to direct cost ratios tended to be higher on cost-reimbursable contracts than on lump sum contracts, and on larger projects overall.
Lattanzio, R. 1991. Managing construction site safety. Occupational Health and Safety, pp. 38-39, February 1991.
This article provides a brief summary of the daily responsibilities of site safety management in terms of compliance with safety standards. It lists the benefits of employing an independent safety professional: reductions in violations and insurance premiums and claims payouts, increases in productivity, freeing the construction manager or general contractor to attend to construction, and access to additional liability insurance that a contractor cannot otherwise obtain.
Smith, G. and Roth, R. Safety programs and the construction manager. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 117(2):36-371, June 1991.
In this paper, Smith and Roth discuss how the construction manager's liability is defined in contract documents. They review the responsibilities of the construction manager as defined in contracts by the American Institute of Architects, Associated General Contractors, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Construction Management Association of America. They then discuss recent case law regarding construction manager liability for safety, emphasizing that this is a relatively new area. The authors close with the assertion that since construction managers cannot shield themselves from liability, the best idea is to become an active participant in the safety program. Among the factors listed which decrease construction manager liability are: a safety program that decreases the risk of accidents, a contract that clearly delineates the safety responsibilities of all parties, a contract clause that indemnifies the construction manager from negligent acts of others, and making every reasonable effort to prevent and correct safety deficiencies. Factors that increase construction manager liability and requirements for contractors are also specified.
Synnett, RJ. Construction safety: A turnaround program. Professional Safety, pp. 33-37, October 1992.
This article describes the experience of the M.B. Kahn Construction Company, a general contractor and construction manager that employed more than 500 people and had a sales volume of $243 million in 1991. In 1988, the company's sales volume was $105 million; its workers' compensation premium that year was $500,000, and its Experience Modification Rate (EMR) was 1.49 (1.00 is the standard). To address this problem, in 1988 the company introduced an accident prevention and safety program and simultaneously began to self-insure its workers' compensation program. Previously, by its own admission, the prevailing attitude in the company toward safety was "poor." The new program emphasizes management commitment, the safety responsibilities of key employees, training for new hires, accident investigation and reporting procedures, frequent job-site inspections, refresher training, and a close working relationship with OSHA. The company credits in-house competition, recognition, incentives, and management commitment with the program's success. Savings for the overall program are estimated to be $725,000 over 3 years.
Ward, S.C., et al. Advantages of management contracting--critical analysis. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 117(2):195-211, June 1991.
A management contracting system is one in which an outside organization is retained to coordinate the design and construction phases of a project and to control construction. Four types of management contracting systems are listed, although the article focuses on the situation in which the management contractor directly employs work contractors to undertake all construction packages. No construction work is done by the management contractor, but this contractor firm does provide coordination and time, cost, and quality control. The advantages for safety of this approach include better planning and control, which can mean improved safety performance if an effective safety management program exists, and fewer documented claims. The disadvantages include blurring of lines of liability and whatever increased risks may arise as a result. The authors discuss the types of projects for which management contracting is best suited: large or complex projects, ones which require flexibility because of rapidly-changing technology, or ones for which there is a strong economic advantage to early start and completion. They conclude with a list of provisos that ought to accompany any such management agreement.
Roundtable. Construction Labor Motivation: A Construction Industry
Effectiveness Project Report. Report A-2, March 1992.
This is a general report on worker motivation prepared on the basis of a review of both construction and general industry literature. In a specific section on safety, the report states that workers will be motivated if top management expresses strong concern for project safety. Safety incentive programs that reward project managers or supervisors for their safety record are also cited as a means of improving the morale of both supervisors and workers. Job orientation for new workers, regular job safety meetings, and supervisor awareness of hazards were all found to be motivating factors. The studies supporting these claims are referenced.
Dedobbeleer, N. and Beland, F. A safety climate measure for construction sites. Journal of Safety Research 22:97-103, 1991.
This study tests a safety climate model developed for production workers or construction workers. Climate was defined as "molar perceptions people have of their work settings." A self-administered questionnaire was used to survey 384 non-residential construction workers in Baltimore, MD, and the response rate was 71 percent. The survey assessed workers' perceptions of management's commitment to safety and workers' perceptions of their own involvement in safety. The study revealed that construction workers, unlike production workers, perceive management's words and deeds as a single dimension, and that these workers perceive safety as a joint responsibility between workers and management. Based on these results, the authors conclude that "management's safety concerns and actions should be highly publicized among the workers," and that "workers' involvement can include participation in the development of safety programs, conduct of safety audits, and identification of solutions."
DeJoy, D.M. Attributional processes and hazard control management in industry. Journal of Safety Research 16(2):61-71, Summer 1985.
DeJoy reviews attribution theory research in this paper and provides a useful summary of its implications for safety management programs. Perceptions of causality influence how workers appraise workplace hazards and influence the design of safety programs. A safety program with punitive enforcement measures, extensive rules and regulations, and little two-way communication between labor and management suggests that management views most accidents as the result of the worker and reflects the belief that little attention needs to be given to environmental factors. The policies and actions of top management influence the perceptions of workers and first-line supervisors as well. If causal attribution is incorrect, it can lead to inappropriate safety policies and programs that may magnify rather than correct the problem.
DeJoy cites studies that identify strong management commitment to safety. Safety programs in these companies typically share the following features: safety matters are given a high priority at company meetings and planned activities; top managers are personally involved in safety activities; safety officers are given relatively high rank and status in the company; open, two-way communication exists between labor and management on safety issues; importance is given to safety inspections, environmental control, and general housekeeping; and distinctive methods are used to promote safety awareness.
In summarizing the implications of attribution research for safety programs, DeJoy offers the following recommendations: (1) workplace accidents should be investigated by a qualified person outside the workgroup and not directly tied to line management; (2) summaries of all accident investigations should be distributed to all workers and managers involved; (3) safety messages of all forms should be carefully developed to take into account the sources of bias that may influence the recipient's interpretation of the message; (4) a program should be developed for reporting and analyzing near-miss and minor-loss accidents; (5) supervisor safety training programs should inform supervisors of the types of attributional bias likely to operate in accident assessment and the implications of such bias; and (6) managers need to be made aware of the multi-causal nature of accidents and the need to integrate safety into the total management system.
Dejoy, D.M. Supervisor attributions and responses for multi-causal workplace accidents. Journal of Occupational Accidents 9:213-223,1987.
This paper is a study of how those in supervisory roles attribute responsibility for and respond to workplace accidents. Subjects read industrial accident reports that varied in terms of the description of cause (e.g., worker failure versus machine failure) and severity of outcome. Severity of outcome did not substantially affect how evaluators attributed responsibility or selected remedies. The gender of the study subjects also had no observable effect on decision-making. Overall, however, subjects "overattributed" accidents to lack of effort on the worker's part; that is, when worker ability or task difficulty were apparently related to the accident, they stressed that greater worker effort, rather than improved supervision or management, might have remedied the situation. The researchers suggest that this behavioral tendency shifts the responsibility to the worker and is likely to result in a safety climate in which little training, task analysis, or hazard control is attempted, and inadequate measures are used to control losses.
Denton, D.K. Safety Management: Improving Performance. New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc,1982.
This book is based on the assumption that making safety management more employee centered will improve safety performance by increasing worker awareness of and responsibility for safety. Case studies to support this assumption are supplied. The authors discuss management practices to shift emphasis to the employee, as well as motivation theories, styles of communication, decision-making, training, and statistical methods for tracking safe performance. The information in this book will be useful to the safety manager or trainer interested in improving communication; some specific management practices described, such as the creation of worker safety committees, may also be useful in the development of standard operating procedures.
Fellner, D.J. and Sulzer-Azaroff, B. Increasing industrial safety practices and conditions through posted feedback. Journal of Safety Research 15:7-21, Spring 1984.
This concise and interesting paper describes a well-documented study on the use of posted feedback as a behavioral technique to improve safety performance. The authors begin by reviewing the literature on the use of performance feedback to promote safety. They cite a number of studies that have found that individual or public feedback, accompanied by goal setting, effectively increased safe conditions and practices. This particular experiment was designed to determine whether positive and specific feedback posted weekly would increase safe practices and conditions and consequently decrease injuries. Although the study was conducted in a paper mill, the techniques employed could be used in construction operations.
The researchers established baseline rates for safe conditions and practices in the mill. They then conducted weekly inspections in each of 17 rooms and posted feedback on safe conditions in an area visible to all employees in that room. Brief (10-minute) meetings were held with hourly and salaried employees to discuss the feedback. After four months, a similar procedure was followed to give feedback on work practices.
Statistically significant improvements in working conditions were found in rooms with posted feedback; safe practices increased from 4 percent to 30 percent; the percentage of nonhazardous work zones overall increased from a baseline of 79 percent to 85 percent. Posted feedback also increased safe practices overall from a baseline of 78 percent to 85 percent. There was a modest though significant reduction in injuries over the course of the study.
The authors emphasize that the program was inexpensive to develop and implement. Additionally, although the feedback did not specifically address injuries, the injury rate decreased after the program was implemented. The study suggests that providing and displaying positive feedback from construction inspections could be an effective, inexpensive method for improving construction safety.
Landeweed, J., et al. Risk taking tendency among construction workers. Journal of Occupational Accidents 11:183-196, February 1990.
The behavior of construction workers is often mentioned as one of the most important micro-level factors in the occurrence of accidents. Intentionally unsafe behavior at work and a willingness to take risks have been considered significant risk factors. This study, conducted in the Netherlands, evaluated construction workers' risk-taking tendencies in relation to their involvement in accidents and their safety performance. Risk-taking was also compared to that of male alpine skiers and male patients of general practitioners. Statistical corrections were made for gender, education, and age. Behavioral tests were used to evaluate risk-taking tendencies. Construction workers did not score higher on willingness-to take-risk measures than the male patients, and construction workers also scored relatively low on the TAS (Thrill and Adventure Seeking) scale and reported little need to engage in risky physical activity. This was significantly different from the findings for alpine skiers. As a result, the authors indicate that safety campaigns in construction must involve structural change at the worksite if improvements are to be expected. They also indicate the need for further study and validation of their results.
Lanier, E. Reducing injuries and costs through team safety. Professional Safety. American Society of Safety Engineers 7:21-2S, July 1992.
The author describes the results achieved by the Mecklenburg County (NC) Engineering Department in its attempts to cut occupational injuries through implementation of a safety program based on the team concept popular in modern management theory. The Department's managers decided to deveIop the program in 1985, when the 200-person staff registered 73 injuries at a total cost to the County of over $50,000. Introduction of the safety program was preceded by a hazard analysis conducted by management. The decision was made to test the program first in the 50-person drainage crew, which had consistently experienced the highest number of injuries. The program consisted of tool box safety meetings held on-site at a frequency determined by the workers themselves. Injury results were recorded and displayed daily. On a quarterly basis, rewards--in the form of time off-were given to the team with the best safety performance. Based on the success achieved in reducing injuries among members of the drainage crew, management decided to extend the program to the landfill crew. The results were disappointing. Management determined that the poor results were due to the fact that landfill workers saw their work as being more independent and skilled and resented being assigned to teams. A second attempt, in which landfill workers picked their own team members, yielded excellent results. In l990, following extension of the program to the remaining two divisions, the Engineering Department as a whole recorded only 29 injuries, at a cost of $15,448.
Mattila, M. and Hyodyamoa, M. Promoting job safety in building: An experiment on the behavior analysis approach. Journal of Occupational Accidents 9:266-267, 1988.
The aim of this study was to determine whether behavioral methods can be effective in improving safety in construction. Four building sites were selected--two experimental sites and two control sites. A system of safety targets and feedback was used at the experimental sites. Attainment of the safety performance targets and the site's accident rate were used as measures of success. Focusing on feedback during the inspection process was judged to improve the safety inspection function overall. Posting of graphic feedback was found to be more effective than written feedback in achieving safety targets. Compared with the control sites, accident rates at the experimental sites were lower, and accidents were less serious. The researchers concluded that behavioral methods and a simple safety goal-setting and feedback program could be effective in improving construction safety conditions. It is also conceivable that because experimental site participants were told about the study, that additional attention alone yielded improved safety behavior.
Zohar, D. Promoting the use of personal protective equipment by behavior modification techniques. Journal of Safety Research 12(2):78-85, Summer 1980.
This is a review article that considers three studies in which behavioral approaches were used to increase the use of personal protective equipment. In the first study, pre- and post-shift audio grams were used on a portion of a worker population to promote earplug usage. Test results were both posted and given directly to individual workers. This technique increased earplug usage from 35 percent to 85 percent in a metal fabrication plant where group lectures, poster campaigns, and disciplinary actions had already been tried. One of the most important observations was that the 85 percent usage level was obtained after the treatment phase of the experiment had ended. The interpretation of this finding was that supervisor behavior had changed during the course of the experiment; earplug usage was made compulsory in production areas and punitive actions accompanied violations. This change in the environment was thought to have reinforced desired behavior.
Token economy systems were used in the other two experiments reviewed in this study. In one experiment, individual earplug usage recorded during randomly timed daily tours of a textile plant was rewarded with a token that could be exchanged for consumer goods. The second experiment also rewarded earplug usage with tokens, but varied the value of the tokens according to the total number of workers in compliance in the department. In both of these studies, earplug usage increased sharply and remained steady throughout a follow-up phase. Usage levels were maintained at the higher levels over time despite high employee turnover rates.In their discussion, the reviewers state that a change in manager awareness and behavior results from being called upon to develop and implement such a program. Maintenance of modified behaviors seems to be reinforced by program success. Earplug usage may also be self-reinforcing in that, after an initial adaptation period, the noise reduction is appreciated by workers. The reviewers admit that these studies may not be predictive for other personal protective equipment, but they argue that the extremely low cost of such a program warrants experimentation. As with posted feedback studies, prompt access to test results or immediate reinforcement of desired behavior may be necessary to reinforce desired behavior.
WORKER PROTECTION IN CONSTRUCTION
Bruening, J. Pizzagalli Construction: Performance-oriented safety pays off. Occupational Hazards, pp. 45-48, June 1989.
This article details the safety management practices of Pizzagalli Construction Co., a firm that halved its recordable injury rate from 1986 to 1988 and reduced its lost workday rate from 7.9 to 5.2 over the same period. As a result, the firm has achieved a 76 percent reduction in workers' compensation costs and a 96 percent reduction in general liability insurance costs. The safety manager attributes the program's success to three components: training, awards and incentives, and drug and alcohol testing. The article describes each of these aspects of the overall safety program. Subcontractors are expected to meet the same high standards and can be fined for non-compliance. Contrary to frequently expressed concerns about drug and alcohol testing programs, the safety program manager states that the majority of employees support the program. The importance of a strong, positive safety message from management is also stressed.
Business Roundtable. Absenteeism and Turnover: A Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project Report. Report C-6, September 1989.
The Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project was a long-range effort to "develop a comprehensive definition of the fundamental problems in the construction industry and an accompanying program for resolution." It focuses on the industrial, utility, and commercial sectors and was developed from the point of view of the owners or users of construction. This particular report is based on the results of a questionnaire developed by owners and contractors and completed by more than 1,000 workers at job sites ranging from 125 to 3,000 workers. The questionnaire was designed to measure worker attitudes toward their jobs and reasons for absenteeism or turnover.
The most significant finding in relation to construction safety was that the No. 1 reason cited by workers for absences from work was unsafe working conditions. On a scale of relative strength of response, this was given a rank of 9; followed by excessive rework and travel distance at rank 8; poor craft supervision at rank 6; poor overall management at rank 5; and personal and family illness at rank 4. Safety was not among the top factors affecting turnover. The reasons for turnover reported by workers included their relationship with the boss (10); overtime available on another job (7); poor craft supervision (6); poor overall job management (5); poor planning (4); excessive surveillance by owner (3); and inadequate tools and equipment (2).
There were no significant differences in the ranks assigned to these factors by union or non-union workers or by workers from different geographical areas. The study also found that a relatively small fraction of the workforce was responsible for most of the absenteeism and voluntary job turnover. Among the report's conclusions were that most reasons for absenteeism and turnover, including unsafe working conditions, were controllable. The study team also attempts to calculate the economic impact of absenteeism and turnover and provides formulas for these calculations. Finally, recommendations for methods by which contractors, owners, and unions can decrease absenteeism and turnover are offered.
Buskin, S. and Paulozzi, L. Fatal injuries in the construction industry in Washington state. American Journal of Indus~trial Medicine 11:453-460, 1987.
Fatal injury records for construction workers in Washington State were examined for the period 1973-1983. Falls, cave-ins, and electrocution accounted for almost half (45.4 percent) of these deaths. Mortality increased significantly with decreasing company size, with the mortality rate among companies with one to four employees being almost three times that of the largest (1,000+) companies. Age-specific proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) indicated significantly higher mortality among older workers. Drilling machine operators, welders, flame-cutters, reinforcing-iron workers, and heavy equipment operators had the highest PMRs. These data were lower overall than national data, and the authors felt that under-estimation may have occurred because a sizeable number of non-production workers were included in the denominators (however, since the inclusion of non-production workers is standard practice nationally as well, relative rates should not be affected). The authors suggest that equipment redesign may be one of the most effective means of reducing risk, since smaller companies have limited resources to dedicate to safety.
Culver, C. Build a safer construction site. Safety & Health, pp. 7-76, March 1993.
In this article, the head of OSHA's Office of Construction and Engineering presents construction safety statistics taken from a 1990 study conducted by that office. Databases used for the study included OSHA's records of fatality investigations and records for construction injuries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The data showed that specialty trade contractors experienced a higher percentage of injuries than general contractors or heavy construction contractors. Low-workday injury rates, however, were consistently higher for heavy construction. Most injuries, including lost-workday injuries, occurred during the peak period of construction, from June to October, and on Mondays. Fewest injuries occurred on Fridays. The causes of injuries were essentially the same for all three types of construction. Injury rates were highest for young workers and decreased with worker age. Injury rates were higher during the first few weeks on a job site, regardless of worker age. Among the construction trades, carpenters and laborers accounted for 40 percent of the injuries, although this may be attributable to the composition of the workforce and the number of workers engaged in each trade rather than to job-related risks. The author recommends that these statistics be used by managers to implement preventive measures.
Davies, V.J. and Tomasin, K. Construction Safety Handbook. London: Thomas Telford Ltd, 1990.
This book is geared toward civil engineers and their work as managers of project safety. The initial chapters present accident statistics, the legal obligations of employers, and pertinent occupational health and safety laws and their enforcement. The discussion focuses on laws in the U.K. The next several chapters present the activity-specific hazards of construction and offers suggestions on how to control them. The final third of the book discusses management systems for safe construction. Safety management policies for firms of varying sizes and examples of safety audit forms and checklists are presented. Brief descriptions of training, personal protective equipment, and first aid are also provided.
Dedobbeleer, N. and German, P. Safety practices in the construction industry. Journal of Occupational Medicine 29(11):863-868, November 1987.
is part of a larger cross-sectional study of factors related to
construction workers' safety performance. Here, the authors examined
construction workers' safety practices in relation to individual
and situational factors. Multilinear regression was used to correlate
each of seventeen variables with safety performance; these variables
explain 51 percent of the variance. The "predisposing factors"
of age and attitude toward safety performance accounted for most
of the variance. Perceived control over personal safety and
training exposure also affected worker compliance with safety regulation. The youngest construction workers were found to have low safety performance scores, little knowledge of safety practices, and unfavorable attitudes toward safety performance; the authors suggest that this group of workers requires special attention and that mandatory safety training before employment may be advisable. The findings also indicated that attitude toward safety performance was only weakly related to safety training and not related to attendance at safety meetings. The authors therefore suggest a need for more effective safety initiatives based on learning by observation.
Dedobbeleer, N., et al. Safety performance among union and non-union workers in the construction industry. Journal of Occupational Medicine 32(11):1099-1103, November 1990.
The results are part of a larger cross-sectional study of factors related to construction workers' safety performance. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from 384 workers at nine non-residential construction sites in the Baltimore area. Information was collected on demographic and occupational characteristics, safety practices, safety training, knowledge of safety practices, attitudes towards safety practices, and other factors. The authors stratified their sample based on union membership and observed several differences between groups. Union members were likely to be older, have more stable employment, and to have been exposed to more safety training (76 percent of union members versus 33.7 percent of non-union workers). Union members also reported more often that proper equipment was available, that regular safety meetings were held, and that co-workers had a favorable attitude toward safety. When the effect of age difference was removed, however, there was no significant difference in the on-site safety practice of union and nonunion workers.
Among the authors' conclusions was that non-union construction sites need special safety attention because they attract the youngest workers, those most likely to exhibit poor safety performance; a second conclusion was that unions serve the important functions of providing safety training and increasing the workers' perception of control over their safety on the job. Union and non-union perceptions of management's safety attitudes and practices did not differ, and the authors theorize that this may reflect the difficulties unions face in attempting to influence management attitudes.
Fullman, J.B. Construction Safety, Security and Loss Prevention. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1984.
Fullman integrates a knowledge of work-site hazards with an understanding of human behavior in construction to provide a guidebook for construction safety. As he discusses the various phases of construction, the author describes the types of activity in each phase; provides a profile of the associated job sectors and their accident statistics; discusses some existing regulations, the physical hazards and personal behavior which might lead to accidents during a given activity or phase; and offers field examples and suggestions for management practices. Included in these suggestions are descriptions of personal protective equipment and sampling/testing devices. The author's recommendations are based on his experience in the construction industry, and specifically on observations regarding the risks associated with common work-site hazards. The book does not set forth a code of management safety practices; it does, however, offer suggestions about the principles to keep in mind when planning for construction safety.
Hislop, R.D. A construction safety program. Professional Safety, pp. 1-20, September 1991.
The author is an environmental and safety manager at Argonne National Laboratory, and his article is a succinct summary of construction safety program components. He lists these components as: a company safety policy, project constructibility reviews, contractor screening, a pre-bid safety meeting, pre-construction meetings, employee orientation, toolbox talks, manager-contractor meetings, safety inspections and audits, accident reporting and investigation, housekeeping, and safety cost accounting. Brief explanations of the nature and importance of each component are provided.
LaBar, G. Breaking new ground in construction safety. Occupational Hazards, pp. 58-63, May 1992.
LaBar's article is an overview of the issues behind the growing interest in construction safety management, above all the annual toll of over 2,000 deaths and 630,000 injuries, with a cost to the industry of about $30 billion, or 6 to 9 percent of total project costs. He offers examples of firms with excellent safety records, like Bechtel Construction and BE & K Construction Co., and describes specific measures taken by these companies to develop successful safety programs. Included among these are (1) providing a general construction safety handbook to all employees, (2) developing site-specific safety plans and providing sitespecific safety training, and (3) ensuring that subcontractors have a safety program in place. On-site managers are held accountable for the safety of their projects, and injury rates are calculated for each project supervisor and considered in promotion decisions. Annual safety conferences or hazard awareness classes are offered for managers, and supervisors attend a safety and health workshop at the beginning of each new project and again during peak project activity. The companies use either an on-site safety professional or off-site safety professionals to conduct frequent inspections.
Recommendations from OSHA, NIOSH, and other safety organizations are also offered. Included among these is the suggestion that property owners pre-qualify contractors by reviewing their safety records. After subcontractors have been selected, Bechtel develops a site safety and health program that is binding on all employers on the project. A smaller firm, Pepper Construction, provides safety meetings and training for subcontractor employees and gives its on-site safety officers authority to inspect and require corrections of hazards in subcontractor work. Written safety and health programs were the single most frequently recommended tool in improving site safety.
Levitt, R.E. and Samelson, N.M. Construction Safety Management. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1987.
This book is a comprehensive manual for construction managers. Its purpose is to demonstrate the cost savings of safety management and to provide managers at all levels with proven effective techniques for safely managing construction work. Research was carried out by the authors and their colleagues at Stanford University's Civil Engineering Department, and the techniques presented emphasize the behavioral side of construction safety. The introductory chapters present cost accounting methods that reflect the full financial burden of accidents. Results of a Stanford Cost Accounting System study are presented; the authors also discuss how modification of the accounting system to reflect accidents can increase line awareness of safety issues. Separate chapters on management techniques are provided for CEO's, the job-site manager, the foreman, and safety professionals. Information on training, communication' and incentive programs is included. The final chapters address owners and the bidding process and offer a questionnaire for evaluating contractor safety.
Occupational Health & Safety Staff. Nobody takes a fall. Occupational Health & Safety, p. 57, January 1992.
This article describes a "safety enhancement" program initiated by Brown & Root Braun, Inc. to eliminate fall hazards, which account for 30-35 percent of construction fatalities. The program was developed by a task force of representatives from all craft disciplines. Fall-prevention engineering is used to create a safer working environment. Remotely actuated pin extractors, full-body fall-protection harnesses and retractable lines are used to provide continuous fall protection. Brown & Root Braun's safety record is five times better than the national average for recordable injuries, and the company's "100 Percent Fall Prevention Program" exceeds the requirements of OSHA's proposed fall protection construction standard.
Rademaker, K. Activate your fall protection defenses. Occupational Hazards, pp. 40-43, December 1991.
In both 1989 and 1990, falls were the second leading cause of death in the workplace. Safety experts suggest that the fatality rate remains high because both employees and supervisors mistakenly view falls as a random occurrence. The article reviews and compares the advantages of safety belts, harnesses, and retractable lifelines. The importance of safety training is emphasized; employers are advised against assuming that union workers from apprenticeship programs have received training in fall protection. Regular maintenance of fall protection equipment is also a priority.
Robinson, J. Workplace hazards and workers' desires for union representation. Journal of Labor Research 9(3):238-249, Summer 1988.
Using data from three surveys conducted between 1977 and 1982, the researchers found that workers exposed to significant health and safety risks on the job were more likely to express a pro-union attitude than were comparable workers not similarly exposed. The actual extent of unionization, however, appeared to be related to management resistance rather than to worker interest in unionization. Lack of promotions was the second most influential factor in explaining workers' pro-union stance, followed by injury rates, unpleasant surroundings, and lack of training.
Robinson, J.C. The rising long-term trend in occupational injury rates. American Journal of Public Health 78(3):27-281, 1988.
This article documents long-term trends in occupational injury rates in the manufacturing, construction, and trade sectors. The period covered includes the late 1950s through 1985; data were collected from the national establishment survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the United States as a whole and workers' compensation data for the State of California. The article focuses on manufacturing but reports the following for construction:
- Disabling injuries per million hours worked in construction increased steadily after 1975, both in the United States as a whole and in California;
- Injury rates in manufacturing, construction, and the trade sectors have fluctuated in recent years around levels not witnessed since the 1940s and 1950s or earlier; and
- Work-related fatalities relate poorly to less serious work injuries.
Suruda, A., et al. Deaths from trench cav~ins in the construction industry. Journal of Occupational Medicine 30(7):552-555, 1988.
Information from OSHA investigation reports, DOT files, and newspaper clippings were used to characterize trench cave-in fatalities occurring from 1974-1986. A total of 306 deaths for which sufficient data were available for analysis were identified. The authors provide a breakdown of fatalities by SIC code; most of the deaths occurred in the sewer construction industry. Fatalities were skewed toward the younger ages, although a standard-ized mortality ratio (SMR) analysis indicated that this was statistically significant only for the 20- to 24-year-old age group. Most deaths occurred in shallow trenches, with a mean depth of 11.4 feet, and workers in smaller firms had an increased risk of death. In only one death was the employee killed while inside a trench box, and almost all cases occurred in trenches without shoring. This study was done in response to an OSHA call for comment on the need to revise its standards for trenches and excavations. The authors point to California as a State which has been able to cut its trench cave-in fatalities by more than half, and suggest that the California requirement that contractors obtain a permit from the Health Department for any trench deeper than five feet may be significant.
Trent, R. and Wyant, W. Fatal hand tool injuries in construction. Journal of Occupational Medicine 32(8):711-714, 1990.
Although there has been research on occupational hand tool injuries, this study is the first to focus specifically on fatalities linked to hand tools, as reported in 62 OSHA reports filed between 1979 and 1982. The researchers confirmed their hypothesis that fatalities, like injuries, could be differentiated by source of energy contact. But although non-fatal injuries occur mostly at the point of energy transfer (e.g., drill points, saw blades, hammer faces, points of torches, welders, steamers and irons), fatal injuries are caused primarily by low voltage supply energy. The study also found that most deaths caused by falls or being hit by objects are preventable with the proper application of known protective measures. All the reported electrocutions could have been prevented by the use of a ground fault circuit interrupter. The authors cite the significant risks of three hazards that are often not recognized on construction sites: low-voltage energy, working at heights, or working with unsupported overhead materials.
Walters, N.K. Safety management accountability process: An effective approach at DuPont. Professional Safety, pp. 35-38, August 1983.
Walters' article provides a summary of safety management principles applicable in any business setting. DuPont's safety record, at the time of publication, was said to be 22 times better than that of the average chemical company and 68 times better than the average industrial company, using National Safety Council statistics. The company has received NSC's Award of Honor 34 times.
The seven safety principles cited by the author include: (1) all injuries can be prevented, (2) management at all levels is responsible for preventing injuries and illnesses, (3) all operating expenses can be controlled, (4) safety is a condition of employment and each employee must be responsible for working safely, (5) employees must be thoroughly trained, (6) all deficiencies must be immediately corrected, and (7) it is good business to prevent injuries and illnesses.
DuPont develops a safety program for every level of the company--corporate, departmental, site and process--and workers are trained that safety is the number one priority.
First-line supervision is the primary conduit for all safety and health communications from top management to hourly employees. Hazard communication is described as a combination of active training and passive communication through labeling and signage. A Safety Division exists to ensure that all sites meet safety and health goals. Top management demonstrates its commitment to safety frequently; the company reinforces safe behavior throughout the organization by making safety a major yardstick of management performance. Key elements of the DuPont program include feedback mechanisms to identify weaknesses in the system and open discussion of inspection results. At weekly management meetings, safety is always the first topic on the agenda. Lost-time injuries must be reported to the executive committee within 24 hours, and fatalities must be reported immediately to DuPont site managers worldwide. According to the author, the program has resulted in improved operating effectiveness, high employee morale, improved community relations, and cost savings.
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