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Survey: Construction firms with union workers more likely to engage in safety best practices, training

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Photo: Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — Construction firms that employ at least some union workers are more likely to perform safety best practices and undergo OSHA training than those with no union employees, according to the results of a biennial survey commissioned by the Center for Construction Research and Training – also known as CPWR.

The Construction Safety Management Survey results also found that firms with union employees are larger and more likely to be involved in industrial buildings, high-rise commercial buildings and non-building projects.

Ninety of the 334 firms that participated in the 2017 survey employed only union workers, while 109 had both union and nonunion employees, and 135 had only nonunion workers. The first two groups were combined to make up “union firms” in the survey results, which include:

  • 78.9 percent of union firms perform job hazard or safety analyses before construction starts, compared with 55.6 percent of nonunion firms.
  • 66.8 percent of union firms conduct “prompt/thorough” near-miss and incident investigations, compared with 49.6 percent of nonunion firms.
  • 75.9 percent of union firms designate “competent project safety personnel,” compared with 62.2 percent of nonunion firms.
  • 86.9 percent of union firms have a site-specific safety and health plan, compared with 68.9 percent of nonunion firms.
  • 63.4 percent of union firms require jobsite employees to undergo OSHA 10-hour training, compared with 50 percent of nonunion firms.
  • 71.7 percent of union firms require supervisors to undergo OSHA 30-hour training, compared with 54.5 percent of nonunion firms.

Additionally, union firms are more likely to use emerging technologies such as drones, wearable devices, laser scanning and robotics.

“The results confirm that labor-management cooperation is a win-win solution for improving safety management and safety culture at workplaces,” the study’s conclusion states.

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