Property Casualty

Practices the Construction Industry Simply Can’t Ignore

Josh Jacobsen
Josh Jacobsen
Assistant Vice President, Risk & Safety Construction Leader

The other night, I was attempting to fall asleep in a hotel room on a business trip with thoughts about influencing company safety culture running through my head when the movie “Jobs” caught my attention. I didn’t get a chance to see the entire movie, but what I did hear was a quote that was ironically relatable to this blog. Steve Jobs once said, “That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simplicity can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Understand, what I’m going to talk to you about is a culmination of research over a 20-year period as well as a decade-long complex thought problem broken down into a focused solution. There are thousands of ideas and solutions about safety initiatives for the industry, most of which are theory-based or never make it in action. The failure of action is largely attributed to a perception of it being too risky or costly. Yet, a few people have taken the risk … and the data discovered demonstrates the reward — zero injury to people, a learning-based organization, and organizations that have a competitive edge over their competition due to lower insurance premiums and higher employee engagement.

With all of that said, I’m happy to share with you the top five safety program initiatives the construction industry just can’t ignore. They’ll not only drive down your failures and incidents, but they’ll also make your organization more profitable and desirable … and quite frankly, an organization people want to work with!

  • Training
    • What kind of training? Simple training! Specifically focus on new hire orientation and site-specific installation plans. Training should consist of the “why” your company performs the work and “how” it’s expected to be done.
    • Did you know? Holmes Murphy construction claim data over the last decade illustrates approximately 40 percent of the claims in an employee’s career tenure occur in the first year of employment. Yikes. Something to be very mindful of.
  • Job planning — It’s all about the mission. What’s the task for today and how do you do it? Communicating expectations and assisting in providing the resources and a plan before the work starts is essential. This not only increases jobsite production efficiency, it also guarantees employees won’t have to make a decision to perform a job unsafely because they didn’t have the resources to do it right the first time.
  • Substance abuse programs — In the final 2016 presidential debate, both candidates acknowledged that drug use with an open border is a problem, including the increase in opioids and heroin use in America. The reality is that our workplace research has shown substance abuse users have a 3.6 times higher rate of accidents compared to a non-user. Not good odds if they’re working on your job. A program in place to address this issue just makes sense and is a good business practice.
  • Incident investigations — Keep this simple and focus on the opportunities to fix a problem before an incident occurs. Near-miss/near-hit analysis provides far more learning opportunities in preventing an incident from occurring. Actual injuries or property loss then happen far less often. Plus, common sense says if you wait, it’ll be too late to correct the problem since a loss has occurred.
  • Empower employees — No one owns safety more than our personal self. Stop trying to fix people and behaviors and instead help them to understand the value and reward of doing it right and safe the first and every time.

What I have written above for these strategies only begins to scratch the surface. For a more in-depth overview and analysis, I’ve created a white paper. I encourage you to download it and read it…and reach out to me with any questions. You can access the white paper by clicking here.

In simple terms, these five strategies, when implemented, will make a positive difference to your company’s injury rates, insurance premiums, and profitability potential. Keep the approach simple and focus on your people’s potential to learn from our industry experience.

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