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Safety saves dollars, makes sense

April 1, 2011

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Neglecting safety puts workers at risk and could land a company owner or contractor in a courtroom. New Jersey-based attorney Ernie Alvino offers the following keys to construction safety for contractors: 

  1. Make safety part of the pre-construction phase: Require or supply a thorough written safety program and designate a “competent person” as the full-time safety representative, preferably one who is OSHA 500 certified. Review plans and specifications and conduct a job hazard analysis for your trade to predict and prevent injury.

  2. Know your contract, your role and all safety regulations: All levels of your management team, particularly your site’s safety representative, must understand the terms of your contract, the role you agree to play, and all rules and regulations for your trade and the trades under your supervision. What are your safety obligations, and does the contract permit you to delegate them to others? Remember: Contracts are promises you agree to fulfill. Take them seriously.

  3. In the construction phase, designate a full-time safety supervisor to enforce your safety program: If you do not have a site-specific written safety program, write one and tailor it to your trade and the project. If you have one, make sure your safety representative knows it by heart, your workers receive and understand the rules, and discipline those who do not comply. As inexcusable as it is to not have a safety program, it is just as irresponsible to have one and not follow it. 

  4. Never put profit ahead of safety: This may sound obvious, but it often is not followed. Create a safety culture that tells the world you are dedicated to protecting the lives of workers. Create a safety budget as part of your bid package. Start a safety rewards program for workers who follow rules and prevent injury. Designate employees as safety supervisors only after they demonstrate a thorough knowledge of all rules and regulations related to your trade and those you will supervise.

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