The most important responsibility any Tulsa commercial contractor has is making sure their employees making it home uninjured. The American Institute for Constructors, or AIC, phrases it as follows:
“…Construction safety is based on the fundamental principle that everyone on the job site should be able to go home in the same condition in which he or she arrived. It is often said that employees are a company’s most important asset and that a safe workplace is a core value of a company. There are three main reasons why safety is given such high importance: morality and ethics, immediate financial cost of accidents, and long-term competitiveness of a company…”
Of the three reasons given by the AIC the most important reason we as Tulsa commercial contractors stay safe is the moral and ethical reasons. The AIC has the following to say about the moral and ethical implications of safety:
“…Morality and ethics are often the first reasons given as to why a company should create and foster a positive safety culture. Employees and managers alike share common values, whereby nothing done at work, no matter how prestigious or impactful, is worth someone getting hurt. Traditional American values place a higher importance on the well-being of family members and coworkers than that placed on a project…”
A consideration for the Tulsa commercial contractor to consider following an injury is the immediate financial cost define by the AIC below:
“…Setting aside the moral and ethical aspect of a person getting hurt, accidents are expensive. The direct costs, such as damage to the project and medical compensation, can be significant, although often these costs are covered by insurance. However, the direct costs pale in comparison to the indirect costs. These costs, which are not covered by insurance, include construction downtime, liquidated damages for late work, additional administrative time, new hire training, and negative publicity. By some estimates, for every dollar covered by insurance, $9 must be absorbed by the company…”
There is also long term financial and competitiveness cost to the Tulsa commercial contractor. The AIC says the following regarding long-term competitiveness as follows:
“…The safety record of a company directly impacts its competitiveness and bottom line. For example, workers’ compensation insurance is regulated by the state and is adjusted based on a company’s safety record. In South Carolina for example, the premiums for workers’ compensation can be reduced by 25% based on the quality of a company’s internal safety program. Owners also often look at a company’s safety record when selecting contractors for their project. Past injuries, poor public opinion regarding safety, past legal actions, and a history of paying liquidated damages will all negatively impact a contractor’s chance of winning a job…”
The federal government created a occupations safety administration to watch over the safety of the workers, called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, under the U.S. department of Labor. The AIC gives a brief description of OSHA as follows:
“…In 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) with the intention to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safety and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources” (OSH Act of 1970). The OSH Act gave Congress the charter to create the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the U.S. Department of Labor. The OSH Act covers almost all employers, with exceptions made for those who are self-employed, work on family farms, are coal miners, or work for some government agencies. The specific rules that OSHA enforces are referred to as OSHA standards and are included as one of many titles in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulation (CFR), published by the office of the Federal Register. Specifically, all OSHA standards are included in Title 29 of the CFR. Title 29, part 1926, addresses all safety and health regulations for construction. Within part 1926 are subparts A–Z, which are specific hazards related to the construction industry. Subparts A–Z are found in Figure 8-1. In addition to part 1926, parts that aren’t specific to construction but are still applicable include 1903-OSHA Inspections, 1904-OSHA Record Keeping, and 1910-General Industry. OSHA references many third-party standards, such as ANSI, which effectively codifies them…”
The Tulsa commercial contractor must know OSHA’s big four. The AIC describes OSHA’s big four as follows:
“…OSHA has reported that the construction industry makes up approximately 20% of all workplace fatalities. Of this 20%, over half of these fatalities can be classified as either falls, struck-bys, caught-in/between, or electrocutions, which OSHA refers to as the focus four… Of these four, falls make up the majority of the fatalities…”
To limit injuries, employers are required to give employees personal protective equipment or PPE. The AIC defines PPE below:
“…Employers have the responsibility to protect employees from workplace hazards, such as falling objects, chemicals, excessive noise, and respiratory contaminants. As a first step, the employer must do everything feasible to reduce or eliminate these hazards. After that, the employer is required to provide personal protective equipment, or PPE, to minimize the impacts of a hazard when they exist. Construction employers are required to provide PPE to their employees at no charge, with a few minor exceptions, such as safety-toe footwear, prescription eyewear, and every day or weather-specific clothing…”
One of the main ways a Tulsa commercial contractor will help eliminate falls is fall protection. The fall protection is defined as follows:
“…Falls are the leading cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry. OSHA mandates that protection means must be in place for any potential falls greater than 6 ft and are commonly used for ramps, wall openings, holes, excavations, and roofs. The protection generally comes in the form of personal fall arrest systems (PFASs), guardrails, and safety nets.
PFASs include an anchor point, lifeline, and body harness and are designed to minimize the impact of a fall if it occurs. See Figure 8-9. A single anchorage point may be used for multiple workers but must be designed to support 5,000 lb for each worker or twice the impact load, whichever is greater.
Safety nets are screens used to catch falling employees (Figure 8-12). They are most typically used around the perimeter of buildings. The safety nets should be placed as close as possible to where the employees are working but no more than 30 ft below the working surface. The net must extend horizontally 8 ft for falls up to 5 ft, 10 ft for falls up to 10 ft, and 13 ft for falls greater than 10 ft. Safety nets must be drop tested after initial installation, whenever relocated, after a major repair or after 6 months in one location. A drop test includes dropping a 400-lb bag of sand at the highest surface of the potential fall hazard but not less than 42 in. Safety nets should be inspected weekly, after fall events, and after major alternations or repair…”
For Tulsa commercial contractors, safety is the number one goal, but there are also government administrations to ensure that contractors keep their employees safe.