Why Safety Matters When Hiring a Subcontractor (or General Contractor)

There are many considerations to be taken into account when hiring a general contractor or subcontractor. Some of these considerations include the submitted bid, reputation, and expected time of project completion. However, one of the most important factors when hiring a contractor is their safety record. Wanting a safe workplace should be more than a slogan on a poster. It should be one of the most utmost concerns for any person or group hiring contractors for a building project, and there are some great reasons for doing so. Tradewinds Construction knows this particular fact firsthand as they have earned a sterling reputation for workplace safety over the last three decades.

The construction industry can be a dangerous one, which is why safety should always be at the forefront of any endeavor. In 2014 alone, there were 899 deaths in the construction industry, and this total reflects 20.5% of all fatalities in private industry. The most common fatality for construction workers is falling, coming in at 39.9%. The next three main causes of construction fatalities were electrocutions, struck by object, and caught-in/between. Another fact is that a full 60% of all construction workplace accidents occur during an employee’s first year of employment. Such statistics show that the construction site can be a hazardous one, especially for new employees. This is why Tradewinds Construction has always put an emphasis on safety for every worker from initial planning to final completion.

There are a number of tangible benefits for having a construction jobsite as safe as possible. The most obvious one is making sure that workers and visitors stay safe, uninjured, and able to return to their families every night. Life is incredibly precious, so it behooves all contractors to keep their workers and visitors to the site as safe as possible. Another reason for why safety matters is to keep expensive lawsuits from ever popping up. If an injury occurs at a construction site due to negligence, everyone associated with the project could become the object of a lawsuit, including the property owner, general contractor, and subcontractors. There are entire law practices devoted to personal injury lawsuits, and the awards given out can be quite large. One example is a general contractor having to pay $1 million for a construction worker’s crushed leg injury due to being found accountable for an unsafe work environment. Another example is when a building owner and the general contractor were ordered to pay $2.65 million for workers falling and seriously injuring themselves. Tradewinds Construction knows that an unsafe work environment is an invitation to costly litigation, so they always have a safety program in place and relentlessly drill their craftsmen in the latest security protocols. Ensuring the highest degree of safety can save a lot of money in potential lawsuits. Even if the contractor is found to be in the clear, a lot of time and resources have already been spent in defending themselves.

Being safe in the workplace does pay dividends. The United States Department of Labor found that a good safety and health program can save a company from $4 to $6 for every $1 invested. Being able to practice one’s trade is definitely an economic incentive to emphasize workplace safety. A contractor can  have their licenses pulled for being found guilty of safety violations or be forced to pay heavy fines. The reality is that many contractors promise a safe workplace, but the reality is that the commitment to safety can vary considerably. This is why it is essential to review not only the contractor’s license but also their safety record. Few construction firms can boast the sterling safety record of Tradewinds Construction, who is one of only a select few to have been multi-year recipients of the “Platinum and Gold Step Safety Awards” that are awarded by the Associated Builders and Contractors.

There is another way that emphasizing workplace safety can save money, both for the contractor and person commissioning the project. Workers compensation and insurance are directly affected by the safety record of the contractor. A key factor in these areas is EMR, or experience modification ratings. The workers compensation premiums that are paid by the contractor take EMR into account when determining the final cost. The same is true for insurance policies taken out for construction projects. As that the costs for insurance and workers compensation are factored into any bid, having a great track record for safety allows a contractor to put in a lower bid due to the fact that their costs are less than contractors with murkier safety records. Tradewinds Construction often has an advantage against other construction firms due to their superlative safety record as well as the highly skilled craftsmen at their disposal. Another benefit of working hard to ensure jobsite safety is  keeping the project running smoothly as that injured workers add to the overall cost of a project, both in workers compensation and lost days.

As one can see, there are multiple benefits to hiring a general contractor or subcontractor with a tremendous safety record. Making sure that there are no injuries or fatalities is a reward in of itself, but there are plenty of financial rewards as well. The possibility of expensive litigation is minimized by creating and implementing a comprehensive safety program. A contractor can put in a lower bid if they have a great safety record due to lower costs for project insurance and workers compensation. Of course, a lack of workplace safety can lead to a contractor’s license being pulled or them being fined, which directly impacts their ability to make a living. Overall, it behooves one looking for a building contractor to make sure that they choose one that constantly emphasizes safety on the jobsite. One of the reasons why so many have chosen Tradewinds Construction over the years is their utter devotion to safety, allowing them to boast an unparalleled record over the last thirty years.


Leslie Stafford

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