The purpose of this study is to determine a relationship between safety spending and the resulting safety records for small to mid sized construction companies, particularly general contractors, and build on existing safety practices. It will shed light on why safety spending in construction is a very important aspect to include in any company’s budget.
A case study of Quiring General, LLC, a small to mid sized general contractor based out of Fresno, CA will be the core of this paper as it includes examples of injuries of laborers and their impact they have. The impact focused on in this paper is limited to replacement of crew members after an injury has taken place.
Consequently, the results will be a conservative estimate. An analysis of several scenarios are used to determine how much Quiring should increase their safety training spending on their laborers. The results showed that an increase of 15% to 25% would be most reasonable.
The majority of literature used in this paper draws from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), US Department of Labor (OSHA), and information provided by Quiring General, LLC. (Kliewer). The case study included in this paper will be quantitative in nature.
Data from Quiring will be analyzed and compared to different scenarios to come up with a solution to better safety practices. Quiring provided information about the rough cost of training new salaried employees in the first year of employment; however, the numbers provided are not broken down into categories such as safety, jobsite tasks, etc.
For the case study, the following assumptions are to be made:
- When a worker is on restricted work, they are 50% as productive.
- These costs are an estimate.
QUIRING CASE STUDY
Looking at the past 5 years for Quiring, there are several non-severe injuries on their job sites that resulted in costs to the company. Employee 1, a Quiring laborer, was going about their business on the seventh floor of a hospital in the Central Valley of California. They went to pick up a heavy object and pulled a muscle in their middle to lower back, resulting in 142 days of restricted work or job transfer. Restricted work is defined as when a worker is put on less strenuous duties and job transfer is when a worker is at the same job but on a different set of duties.
RESULTS / DISCUSSION
Logically, the more you spend on safety training, the more restricted days are needed to offset that cost. The question is what is realistic? In Quiring’s case, how many restricted work days can they reduce with increased safety spending without experiencing diminished returns on that investment? Without testing these numbers with actual companies, the exact result could be anyone’s guess.
In these examples, the re may have been avoid in the laborer’s training that lead to the injury and there may not have been. It is difficult to tell if the worker is exhibiting integrity when going through training and actively trying to absorb the information. It is equally difficult to tell if spending an extra 15% to 25% will have any effect on Quiring’s safety record.
They may already be spending the optimal amount of money on training their laborers. While companies like Quiring may spend a great deal of money at the beginning of a workers employment to train them (see Quiring Data under appendix), it may be more important to reinforce that knowledge throughout their career. Taking a small amount of time out of every week to review what job they are performing that day/week and how they can go about it safely could be an option of increased awareness.
FUTURE RESEARCH AND CLOSING COMMENTS
Safety is the most important thing on a job site to most contractors and should be treated with seriousness and necessity. Continued research into best practices for safety is a worthwhile undertaking. Future researchers looking to dive deeper into a project similar to this could look at other occupations other than laborers.
Perhaps, this study was looking at the situation too narrowly and should have looked at the opposite side of the spectrum: cutting spending. This research could expand to other types of construction companies. The budgets necessary for larger companies would most certainly differ to those of small to mid sized contractors.
As a general note, future researchers looking into safety budgets should be wary when contacting companies asking for information as sensitive as safetyas it may be harder to extract than one might think. Some of that information might be confidential within the company and will be difficult to extract.
It helps to have connections to specific companies that you trust. Hopefully this study has shed light on how safety is more than just part of the budget and it actually can lower costs and possibly receive returns on that investment. Increased safety on job sites can improve relations with subcontractors, owners, and others involved in the construction process.
Source: California Polytechnic University
Author: Shawn Kuehter