Safety tips to protect your contracting business and employees

Posted in Business

Contractor wears safety equipment as he drills into the ceiling of a home under construction.

In the contracting world, it literally takes sweat (and sometimes blood and tears) to build up a business. After all the hard work you’ve put in, you don’t want to see anything bring your company down. But the reality is, by the nature of the work, contactors are at greater risk for losses that could potentially devastate a business. Protecting your livelihood, your employees and your assets begins with understanding what you’re up against on the job every day.

Some of the top causes of financial loss for contractors include:

  • Fires: workplace fires cost businesses more than $2.3 billion in property damage annually1.
  • Workplace accidents and injuries: 4,628 workers were killed on the job in 20122. The average cost of each workplace death, with employer costs, is over $1.4 million, while the average cost of a disabling injury at work is $58,0003, including the average cost of wage and productivity losses, medical expenses and administrative expenses.
  • Theft of equipment and building materials: estimates put annual construction site equipment theft costs between $300 million to $1 billion4.
  • Construction defects: the number of lawsuits alleging construction defects is on the rise.

The stats are eye-opening. But the good news is, when you go into the job with a clear view of the potential pitfalls, there’s a lot you can do to protect your profits. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Don’t get burned.

To mitigate your risk for fire, be sure to:

  • Lay oil- or solvent-soaked rags out in the open to dry, or store them in an air-tight, fire-resistant container.
  • Carefully dispose of matches and cigarette butts.
  • Make sure electrical work is performed by a licensed and reputable electrical contractor.
  • Have fire extinguishers available. Make sure they’re in working order and that employees know how to use them.
  • Create a custom fire emergency and evacuation plan.

2. Play it safe.

Safety’s no accident. To proactively make your site safer:

  • Conduct regular site walk-troughs and hold regular safety meetings.
  • Keep the worksite clean and free from debris and other hazards.
  • Use the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the job.
  • Be sure guardrails are in place.
  • Inspect equipment for damage before use. Make sure employees understand which tools to use for which jobs.
  • Escort any non-employee guests who are visiting your job site. 
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3. Lock out loss.

To protect your assets from theft or vandalism:

  • Lock down all equipment and tools, building materials such as copper, and vehicles when not in use.
  • Keep careful records of your equipment. Identify your assets by labeling or marking them.
  • Put up fences around the job site.
  • Use theft-deterrents such as wheel and ignition locks and/or fuel shut offs.
  • Consider investing in security cameras or security guards. At a minimum, ask local law enforcement to frequently patrol the area.  

4. Cover your bases.

To protect yourself from liability and loss:

  • Before starting a new job, sign a legal contract that spells out what work is included—and what isn’t.
  • Hire only licensed, certified and well-trained subcontractors. Make sure each subcontractor understands his or her scope of work.
  • When possible, legally transfer risk to subcontractors.
  • Partner with your independent insurance agent to make sure you are properly covered for the work you’re doing.

1 – OSHA  
2 – Bureau of Labor Statistics
3 – National Safety Council
4 – LoJack Corporation 12th Annual Construction Equipment Theft Study

This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Implementing one or more of these suggestions does not guarantee coverage. If any policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. For full details on Grange’s commercial insurance coverages and discounts, contact your local, independent Grange insurance agent.

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