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Labor shortage could be affecting safety issues

A recent report shows the construction industry's labor shortage also could be compromising worker safety, according to www.constructiondive.com.

The Q3 2018 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index report released responses from contractors surveyed, and 80 percent responded they were either highly concerned (26 percent) or moderately concerned about the safety risks caused by a lack of skilled workers at their job sites—likely because construction jobs require skills that contribute to a safe workplace.

When asked to rank current and future top safety concerns, 58 percent of contractors identified the current lack of skilled workers, and 62 percent said it would be a problem during the next three years. Labor shortages as a safety issue was followed by shorter construction schedules, aging workers, more complex projects, substance abuse and language barriers. Almost 70 percent of general contractors were concerned about safety-related staffing issues compared with 45 percent of trade contractors. Meanwhile, contractors in the western U.S. (67 percent) were the most likely to be worried about how the labor shortage would affect job-site safety.

Sixty-three percent of contractors suggested an improved climate of safety on job sites to reduce safety risks, followed by a better corporate safety culture (58 percent); supervisor leadership training (48 percent); tracking and assessment of safety records (34 percent); and implementation of safety-enhancing technology. Respondents also said the most "impactful" actions contractors could take to increase their cultures of safety were more safety training for all levels of employees (67 percent); increased accountability (53 percent); employee involvement (48 percent); increased communication about safety (46 percent); demonstrations of management commitment (46 percent); improving the quality of supervisor leadership (43 percent); treating safety as a value (42 percent); and encouraging client engagement (24 percent).

Just a few injuries can significantly increase a contractor's workers' compensation premiums and even could leave companies open to third-party claims, which could affect a company's general liability rates, result in loss of business assets and leave a contractor with a pile of legal bills. A safe job site can lead to lower costs of doing business.

The survey results indicate contractors are interested not just in saving money but also in implementing plans that are inclusive and forward-thinking.


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