Friday, August 9, 2013

Construction Safety Training: Survey Reveals Widespread Benefits

Earlier this year, ClickSafety and McGraw Hill Construction collaborated to conduct a safety management survey on the benefits construction companies gain by implementing safety training programs. The survey findings, released in June in the Safety Management in the Construction Industry SmartMarket Report, reveal that 71% of the companies that implemented safety training initiatives reported lower injury rates, and 66% reported a greater ability to contract new work.

The partnership between the two companies grew from a shared passion to develop a greater understanding of safety in the construction industry. “It was a perfect alignment, and I think the results speak for themselves,” says Brian Tonry, the executive vice president and general manager of ClickSafety.

Two of the most significant findings of the study were that when companies invested in safety management practices, 43% reported faster project schedules and 66% reported higher project quality. Michele Russo, LEED AP, director of content and research communications for McGraw Hill Construction, attributes these increases in efficiency to the team communication often encouraged by integrated safety programs. “Having that kind of ethos leads to increased efficiencies in other areas,” says Russo.

Although safety management practices can viewed as costly, only 15% of survey respondents indicated that their safety programs cost them additional funds as compared with 39% who reported a decrease in project budget after implementing such programs. Furthermore, 51% said they realized increased return on investment as a result of introducing safety training.

According to Tonry, safety programs benefit a company’s bottom line by preventing injuries and incidents that can shut down projects temporarily, resulting in lost time and money. Avoiding incidents and injuries also lowers insurance premiums and reduces risk of litigation.

The study identified a need for small firms to expand their use of safety programs. While 92% of firms with more than 500 employees have safety programs, only 48% of smaller firms implement similar programs. Tonry and Russo believe this disparity is due in part to the fact that smaller firms have limited funds to invest in safety training. Russo says online safety training programs enable small firms to access training without investing in on-site safety trainers.

“The investment is going to get spent one way or another,” Tonry says, pointing out that when funds are not invested in safety programs, they are often used on high insurance premiums or loss as result of an incident.

ClickSafety and McGraw Hill Construction encourage construction professionals to continuously train their workers, as the industry is currently evolving to embrace new technologies such as digital design and green building that present their own unique hazards.