Construction Safety: Accident Prevention and Response

Preventing accidents on a construction site is preferable to managing them after they happen. Unfortunately, many companies fail to realize the extent of hazardous conditions present at a given site until after problems occur. An avoidable incident instead becomes a statistic. Some of the simplest ways to avoid accidents are reporting and acting on unsafe conditions. If a construction worker sees a colleague working in an unsafe manner, he or she should say something. The same holds true if a worker notices an unsafe working condition such as problems with scaffolding. Instead of ignoring workplace hazards, supervisors and workers should take steps to rectify safety issues, helping to mitigate risk and damages – even saving lives.

Learning From Mistakes

While accidents are unfortunate, they do provide a learning opportunity for the future. Investigating the incident can reveal new information to help avoid similar accidents. Investigations should not be a witch-hunt to pin blame on an individual, but a method of bolstering safety efforts going forward. If a construction worker witnesses an accident, they should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Where was I during the incident? Where were others that I could see?
  • Where was the injured individual at the time of the accident? What work were they doing?
  • What was I doing when the accident occurred?
  • Did any equipment contribute to the incident?

If everyone near the site of an accident committed their answers to these questions to memory, they could provide a more complete picture of what happened. Multiple detailed eyewitness accounts can provide more information than one or two. Various angles can reveal new information relevant to the indecent as well.

By providing accurate and factual information, workers can avoid similar accidents in the future. In the event of an accident, construction companies need to be prepared to adjust their safety procedures going forward as well as manage any resulting insurance claims. The Reilly Company can help construction businesses reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents and balance their risk with the right construction insurance policy. To learn more, contact us today.

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Top Risks for Small Construction Businesses

The construction industry is rife with entrepreneurs and small businesses. The allure of being your own boss, creating dream homes, and building beautiful architecture is undeniable. However, the industry itself poses several risks that can jeopardize an entire operation if not managed appropriately. Below are the most prevalent risks threatening construction businesses.

Seasonal Slowdowns

For the construction industry, there are only two seasons: winter and construction. Once the weather begins to turn, construction contracts slow to a trickle. This is because everything becomes harder and more hazardous in wintry conditions. Frozen soil is harder to penetrate, snow conceals dropped tools, and freezing winds make scaffolding work unpleasant and dangerous. Even for businesses in warmer climes, an economic downturn can result in a dearth of contracts. Construction companies have to prepare for the slow season by setting aside earnings from the busy season to help compensate for the decrease in income.

Workplace Injuries

Even with proper safety precautions, accidents can still occur on construction sites. While construction workers are the most likely to be injured, third parties can be as well (such as clients visiting work sites). When accidents happen, the injured party can hold the construction company liable for medical costs and court expenses. To help mitigate these issues, business owners should invest in Worker’s Compensation Insurance as well as General Liability Insurance. In fact, many states require it as a prerequisite to own and operate a construction company.

Damaged Equipment

Construction professionals cannot work without the right tools and equipment. While some tools are easy to replace, others take time and money. This can delay projects and harm a construction company’s reputation. Investing in Property Insurance can help alleviate the cost, but it is best to prevent damages in the first place. Business owners can ensure this by training workers on the proper use, maintenance, and storage of equipment.

Protecting Your Investment

Starting and operating a successful business is the ultimate goal for entrepreneurs. However, without proper risk management, a construction company can quickly fall into ruin. The Reilly Company can help your business manage construction risks with the proper insurance policies and coverages. To learn more, contact us today.

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Safety Best Practices: Securing Your Construction Site

Construction sites are inherently more hazardous than traditional workspaces. Because of these dangers, construction workers must abide by several safety regulations. These regulations help keep construction sites operational and secure. Below are several tips to help construction companies adhere to these regulations as well as promote a safety-driven job site.

Fall Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires construction sites to implement fall protection. Failure to meet fall protection standards is the most common citation OSHA issues. It is also one of the top causes of construction worker injury and death. There are several steps workers and employers can take to minimize falling hazards.

Workers

  • Be aware of fall hazards on construction sites
  • Only work in areas with fully installed fall protection systems
  • Inspect personal fall arrest systems to ensure they are functional and intact

Employers

  • Provide fall protection systems for work areas with unprotected edges that are six feet above a lower level.
  • Examples of fall protection systems include guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems. However, guardrails are the only method that prevent falls; the rest prevent long
  • Fall protection also includes preventing workers from falling in holes as well as protecting them from falling objects. Employers can address these issues by sectioning off excavation areas and requiring workers to wear hard hats.

Scaffolds

Well over half of construction workers make use of scaffolds. While scaffolds help workers perform their jobs, they also expose workers to fall hazards including falling objects as well as potential electrocution.  To reduce these risks, workers and employers should take the following actions.

Workers

  • Workers should wear appropriate safety attire while working on scaffolds. These include hard hats and non-skid boots.
  • Workers should only use scaffolds in good condition. Scaffolds covered in mud, ice, or water are not safe.
  • Workers should only ascend and descend scaffolding at the designated access points.

Employers

  • Supervise or assign a supervisor to oversee the assembling and disassembling of scaffolding. Supervisors should inspect scaffolding daily before workers begin to use them.
  • Only erect scaffolding on solid ground at least 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Scaffolding should have guardrails, midrails, and toe boards to ensure the safety of all construction workers.

A safe work environment is not only vital to completing a successful project it is also required by law. With the multitude of OSHA construction regulations, it can be difficult for employers to stay abreast of all safety standards. The Reilly Company can help your construction business navigate the necessary safety requirements to protect your company from injury claims and fines. To learn more about managing your construction risk, contact us.

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Are You Managing Your Construction Risk?

Every construction project poses unique challenges and risks. Managing these risks is vital for a construction company to survive and thrive. Hoping a risk does not become a reality or outright ignoring it is a recipe for financial disaster. However, businesses cannot begin to manage their risks without knowing the possible sources as well as how to handle them. Below is a breakdown of common threats within the construction industry and ways to keep those risks in check.

Sources of Construction Risk

Knowing what to expect is a major part of managing construction risk. Below are the various risk factors construction businesses face.

  • Competitors: Rival companies are impossible to avoid. However, they can present a major risk to profitability. Business owners may feel pressure to match competitor prices or project completion guarantees, but this can result in slim profitability margins or create problems sourcing materials in time.
  • Contractual risk: Continuing with the above, failing to deliver a project on time can result in fees and penalties. Contracts that demand unrealistic timelines are rife with risk.
  • Cyber liability: A successful cyber attack can damage a construction company’s reputation as well as finances. As construction businesses digitize more and more of their data, they need the appropriate corresponding cyber liability coverage.
  • Fiscal risk: Several elements are a threat to a construction company’s bottom line. For example, unchecked growth, increasing interest rates, decreasing sales, and the economy can all spell financial ruin for a construction company.
  • Natural disasters: Earthquakes and floods are among the most common natural disasters that can jeopardize a construction business. Extreme weather can damage project sites or delay work.
  • Project management risk: Failing to manage a project properly can result in injuries, damages, and delays—all of which affect a business’ bottom line. Poor project management includes inadequate guidelines and policies, failing to enforce said policies, and misjudging time and materials needed to complete a project.
  • Work-related risk: Workers not taking the proper precautions on the jobsite, misusing equipment, and so on can result in job-related injuries and claims.

Managing Construction Risks

There are four schools of thought regarding managing construction risk. These are avoid, transfer, mitigate, or accept the risk.

  • Avoid: Companies can avoid certain risks altogether. For example, if the company knows an area is prone to flooding, they may decline construction projects for that area.
  • Transfer: Most companies transfer their risk by investing in various insurance policies.
  • Mitigate: While some risks are unavoidable, construction companies can reduce their effect. For instance, creating and enforcing safety procedures can reduce safety hazards and incidents on job sites.
  • Accept: Some risks are not controllable, such as unexpected weather conditions delaying a project. Most construction companies accept these risks, but there are ways to reduce the likelihood. For example, businesses can plan construction projects for when weather is usually mild.

Most construction companies determine which method of risk management they will take based on a reward to risk ratio. If a project will net a small profit, it is not worth taking on a high level of risk. However, if the profit margin is large, a company may choose to take on more risk. To learn more about construction risk management, contact The Reilly Company.

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Wearable Technology to Reduce Construction Incidents and Claims

Every construction company needs insurance. Investing in coverage is a smart business practice and can protect a company in the event of costly claims. However, many employers want to reduce workplace accidents or prevent them altogether. Because of this, many within the construction industry are turning to wearable technology to manage risks. Reducing workplace hazards has the added bonus of reducing insurance costs as well.

How the Tech Works

There are a few options for wearable tech available on the market. One such example is a product construction workers can wear on their belt. The product contains sensors that keep track of all workers. The system alerts the supervisor of any trips or falls on the site.  It also has a locator button for emergencies such as injuries. This allows employers to find and assist their injured employee in a rapid manner. Reducing the time to treatment can improve the outcome of the injury by decreasing the severity of the damage as well as recovery time.

The product uses a mesh internet system to stay connected with all workers across the construction site. Such a system allows construction managers to know how far an employee fell, where they fell, and what other employees were in the vicinity. This information is invaluable from a claims perspective, as the data is not subjective.

Similar products exist in vest form, but they serve the same purpose. The primary benefit of wearable technology is its ability to improve workplace safety as well as reduce the response time for injuries. This allows contractors to maximize their project management and employee productivity. Employees can learn from the devices as well. For example, a worker who receives frequent warnings about lifting too much weight may change his workplace habits to avoid injuries due to strain.

The Reilly Company understands that managing risks on construction sites can be difficult. That is why we strive to help businesses mitigate their risk by investing in proper insurance coverage. To learn more about reducing risk for your construction company, contact us today.

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