Why it’s worth going above and beyond OSHA compliance

by Dave Wolfenden, CPA, CVA, MS, Managing Director


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Every contractor is aware of the importance of complying with safety rules set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There are heavy penalties and fines associated with noncompliance. And most construction businesses take steps to at least meet the minimum qualifications.

But why be satisfied with the bare minimum? There are several reasons why building a strong safety culture — one that goes above and beyond OSHA’s rules — is the best way to manage the costly risk of mishaps and outright disasters.

Decrease workers’ comp costs
Workplace injuries have a major effect on a company’s bottom line. In its 2018 Workplace Safety Index, insurer Liberty Mutual estimated that employers paid more than $1 billion a week for direct workers’ compensation costs for disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries in 2015.

The top causes of injuries were overexertion involving outside sources (lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, carrying, throwing objects), being struck by objects or equipment, and falls. Interestingly, four of OSHA’s top 10 safety violations for 2018 relate to falls.

Bottom line: Having fewer workplace-related injuries translates to stronger cash flow because workers’ comp premiums and related expenses will plummet.

Recruit and retain good employees
It’s no secret that the construction industry is experiencing a skilled labor shortage. The ability to attract new staff and retain employees remains more critical than ever.

A company that shows a serious commitment to keeping employees safe and healthy may find hiring and keeping good workers easier. After all, many of today’s skilled workers can pick and choose from the top positions available. A construction business with a spotty safety reputation probably won’t be their top choice.

Increase productivity and ROI
According to the American Society of Safety Professionals, a companywide focus on safety leads to higher worker productivity, which drives short-term revenue growth and supports long-term sustainability. Safe environments minimize lost working hours to fatigue, injury or illness. On the flip side, accidents on the jobsite can delay projects and lead to cost overruns.

In addition, according to a 2016 Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket report, Building a Safety Culture, three-quarters of construction companies with high-level safety cultures said they experienced improvements in their projects’ returns on investment. In contrast, of those companies with lower-level safety programs, 36% reported increased project ROI.

Win new work
A company that can promote its rock-solid safety record will look more appealing to project owners and stakeholders, too. In fact, the 2016 Dodge Data & Analytics report indicated that 76% of construction companies said their safety programs increased their ability to contract new work.

Although unpleasant, think worst-case scenario. A single jobsite fatality creates a PR nightmare that can hinder a construction company’s ability to win new work for months afterward. Naturally, this concern pales in comparison to the human cost. Every injury prevented through your safety program is a person left whole and a career intact. Every life saved is a family preserved.

Creating a culture
Doing the bare minimum to comply with OSHA rules may save time and a few dollars in the short term. But your construction business will be left vulnerable to even the slightest slip. When you make safety a core company value and create layers of safety protections, you’ll allow some room for error that can prevent the worst of the worst safety incidents.

We welcome the opportunity to put our construction industry expertise to work for you. To learn more about how our firm can help advance your success, please contact Dave Wolfenden at (302) 254-8240.

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