Construction Safety Plan Template & Safety Program Tips

By: Brian Robertson, CIC, CRIS

Brian Robertson specializes in advising commercial and residential developers, home builders, remodeling contractors, trade contractors, and landscaping contractors.

The residential construction business is booming in Massachusetts—and indeed all across the country. The demand for homebuilders and remodeling contractors has never been higher, which is great for your revenue goals… maybe less so for your safety goals. If you’ve been waiting for a rainy day to get started with a construction safety plan template, or to update the health and safety program you already have in place, you might be in for a long wait…

Instead, get on board with Construction Safety Week, running from May 3 through May 7, 2021. Safety Week marks an annual, industry-wide push to prioritize safer operations. Organizers ask participants (business owners, like you) to recommit to sending every worker home safe, each day. By taking part, you’re not only doing right by your employees, you’re also reinforcing your brand–setting yourself apart from competitors on a variety of fronts, which all affect your bottom line.

If you’re a Massachusetts builder, looking for a construction safety plan template or a checklist for overall safety planning, contact us here. We’ll get you the materials you need. Meanwhile, here’s a closer look at what’s at stake.

Construction Injuries May Cost More than You Realize

What does a construction employee injury cost? That’s a tough question, given all the different ways builders could get hurt. The leading causes of fatal construction accidents include falls, electrocutions, getting caught between objects, and being struck by objects. Still, non-fatal accidents–which happen more frequently–can also result in devastating consequences. Commercial vehicle collisions, for example, along with “worker motion and position” injuries can lead to chronic medical issues and longtail costs/claims.

The average cost for an at-work injury (where the employee seeks medical attention) now stands at $42,000, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that many employee injuries keep costing you money—long after the hospital gets paid. Apart from medical bills and heightened insurance rates, some of these indirect costs include:

  • Lost time and productivity
  • Loss of morale (other employees forced to do more, to pick up slack)
  • Loss of potential clients or existing clients, due to reputational harm
  • Potential OSHA penalties
  • Interviewing and training replacement help

Believe it or not, these indirect costs all grow exponentially, in proportion with the size of the injury.

Direct vs. Indirect Construction Injury Costs

Here’s an interesting formula, offering some context for today’s different types of worker injuries and what they actually cost. According to the National Safety Council’s formula, an employee injury with a direct cost of $5,000 is “expected to carry Indirect costs of approximately $20,000.” Yikes, right?

Now consider the average back injury, which costs roughly $10,000 in direct costs. NSC estimates that same back injury could quickly balloon into six digits—with indirect costs as high as $30,000 to $100,000.

There are steps you can take to rein in your indirect injury costs. Taken together, these steps are known as loss management. Return-to-work programs are a good example, along with immediate reporting, investigation, and regular communication with injured employees. If you’re not maintaining a coordinated loss management strategy already, give us a call to learn more: 508-339-2951. 

Comprehensive Safety Planning Pays for Itself, Many Times Over

If you think safety planning is too time-consuming to be worth the effort, here are some statistics that might change your mind:

  • For every dollar you invest in a safety program, you’ll recoup $3-$6 in savings, according to sources cited by AmTrust Financial.
  • When considering a new job offer, employees value the “safety of the work environment” ahead of opportunities for professional growth.
  • You risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article about you on the first page of their search results.

Safety planning pays for itself by helping you hire and retain quality employees, by protecting your reputation and online profile, and by contributing to a potential “credit mod” on your worker’s comp. Here’s how an investment in safety could improve your MA worker’s comp rate.

Each year, you’re compared against other companies of similar size and type. The resulting score is your experience modification factor, or Ex Mod. Every company starts with a 1.00 Ex Mod. If you incur above-average losses, as compared to your peers, you wind up with a debit modifier (a number higher than 1.00). If you manage to maintain below-average losses, you’ll earn a credit modifier (a number below 1.00).  With a credit modifier, you’ll receive X percent credit, deducted from the base rate for each class code on your policy.  Essentially, this is an insurance discount you can control–and a pretty significant one. A few straightforward steps can get you there…

How to Create a Safer Work Environment for Your Team

1. Form a Plan: Construction Safety Plan Templates

You’ve probably heard the expression, “every injury is preventable.” After 60 years of insuring Massachusetts businesses, we can affirm this is true… But only when business owners believe in the value of a safety culture. Let’s get you started with a construction safety plan template. A template can be the building block for your companywide safety meetings, refresher courses, testing, onboarding for new employees, and individual project kickoff meetings.

2. Identify a Safety Manager

Every organization should select someone to represent its health and safety program. “Safety Manager” doesn’t need to be a designated job title or full-time role. Many safety managers wear other hats. The important thing is that the manager be visible and accessible to everyone you employ. According to a 2017 survey, only half of small business employees say they feel comfortable reporting safety concerns to ownership or management. Clearly, most organizations have room for improvement when it comes to making people feel safe.

3. Coordinate with Your Builder’s Insurance Partners

Creating and maintaining a safety program often seems overwhelming–especially for small business owners, whose partners and managers are already working outside their primary job descriptions. Luckily, your insurance agent can (and should!) help you offload. Your insurance agent and account manager don’t know everything there is to know about best practices in construction safety. Instead, it’s their job to act as a bridge between you and the expert support you need. For starters, this means helping you access and employ your carrier’s safety resources (training videos, Toolbox Talks, safety manual templates, etc.). At a more advanced level, this means connecting you with specialized attorneys, trainers, fleet safety advisors, and others—as needed—to address your unique needs.

4. Incentivize Safety

If safety isn’t something you’ve emphasized up until now, you may find yourself facing some resistance—from supervisors, site crews, and anyone else who’s allergic to change.  To win the necessary buy-in, incentive programs can be a great tool. Ask us about the incentive models we’ve seen successfully alter behaviors and attitudes.

5. Investigate, Measure, and Reevaluate

Conduct regular jobsite safety audits, refresher meetings and annual training sessions to reinforce your culture and guidelines. When an employee injury occurs, be proactive and thorough about investigating. Your insurance company may only ask a limited number of questions. It’s your job to determine true root causes, and then address these with focused training, disciplinary measures, or whatever else is needed.

Ask the right questions before choosing a MA commercial insurance agent.
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