Contractors are reporting business benefits from instituting strong safety programs, according to a new report by McGraw Hill Construction on safety management in the construction industry. In particular, construction companies report the following benefits due to the implementation of safety management practices:
• 51% report increases in project ROI, with a fifth of those reporting increases of greater than 5%.
• 43% report faster project schedules, with half reporting schedule improvements of a week or more.
• 39% report a decrease in project budget from a safety program, with a quarter reporting decreases of 5% or more. Only 15% reported that safety programs cost firms more—debunking the myth that safety has to negatively affect a firm’s bottom line.
• 82% report an improved reputation.
• 71% report lower injury rates.
• 66% report they have a greater ability to contract new work.
• 66% report better project quality.
“Safety programs are not only creating safer places for their workers, but they are also improving firms’ bottom lines,” said Michele A. Russo, director of research communications, McGraw Hill Construction. “Overall, construction companies—large and small—are reporting positive financial impacts from safety programs—and the size of those benefits increase as the depth of the program increases. In an industry that operates on low margins, this is a powerful finding.”
The study also found that 92% of large contractors (firms with over 500 employees) and 48% of smaller firms have instituted fully inclusive and widely observed safety programs, meaning that larger firms are capitalizing more on these business benefits as compared to smaller contractors and subcontractors.
“McGraw Hill’s report confirms the importance of safety within our industry and highlights the tangible gains that can be seen across any business,” said Jim Dorris, vice president, health, safety, environment & sustainability, United Rentals Inc. “United Rentals has found that investing in resources aimed at sustainable safety excellence not only creates a safer work environment, it also increases productivity, reduces costs, enhances the company's reputation and grows the business.”
Firms are reporting that on-site safety training and education programs are currently most widely adopted (reported by 95% of firms) and considered most valued to jobsite workers (82% find it valuable). Online training programs are still an emerging trend, though the increase in mobile tools onsite will likely influence that.
“Every day in America, an average of 13 workers die on the job from safety-related incidents. An industry-wide culture of safety is essential to eliminating that figure, and this research study proves the many benefits, for our companies and our workers, of creating that culture,” said Brian Tonry, executive vice president and general manager, ClickSafety. “As more and more companies understand and realize the return on investment of safety programs, we will see more widespread adoption of sustainable initiatives throughout the industry, moving us closer to our collective zero-injury goal.”
Key industry trends—such as the increased use of mobile tools on construction sites, building information modeling and prefabrication-modular construction practices—are also helping to improve safety outcomes for firms, indicating improved safety expectations that will be placed on construction companies moving forward. Notably, 43% of the industry reports BIM having a positive impact on project safety and 49% reports the same positive impact from prefabrication-modular construction. Mobile tools, such as Smartphones, iPads and iPhones also are reporting safety as reported by 82%, 81% and 78% of contractors, respectively.
“The survey results confirm what our research has led us to believe: safety is a sound investment. The firms implementing sound safety practices are boasting leaner project costs overall, faster production, reduced injuries and better project quality,” said Pete Stafford, executive director, CPWR.
The study’s premier partners include CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, ClickSafety, United Rentals and the National Institute of Building Sciences, its association partner.