Course 618 - Managing Safety and Health: Construction

Working with Contractors

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All contractors must comply with OSHA requirements.

Construction contractors are responsible for ensuring that all work under contract meets or exceeds the OSHA standards in addition to complying with the company’s safety and health standards. The contractor is responsible for ensuring safe work performance of employees and subcontractors.

To illustrate how important contractor safety responsibilities are to the safety and health of their employees, and the success of the construction project, let's take a look at one situation that resulted in the employer being cited about $90,000 in 2017:

  • A contractor on a construction site was cited for two repeat violations:
    1. failing to conduct daily inspections by a competent person prior to the start of the shift, and
    2. failing to provide an adequate cave-in protection system while employee were in the excavation.

If the general contractor had been communicating and insisting that the subcontractor meet all OSHA requirements, these repeat violations would not have occurred. This and many other instances of OSHA violations on construction sites, emphasize the importance of establishing regular communications and a culture of accountability on the worksite.

1. What is a major cause for OSHA violations on construction sites?

a. Not posting an competent OSHA watch on site
b. Not prioritizing worker safety on the worksite
c. Lack of contractor communication and accountability
d. Lack on common sense by workers

Involvement Begins Before the Project Starts

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Make safety a part of all planning objectives.

It's important the employer communicate about safety during all phases of the construction project. From the time the project is conceived until it is finished, safety must be a part of the process.

During the Pre-Award phase, requirements are developed, solicitations are sought, contractors are selected and contracts are awarded.

Key safety related efforts during this phase include consideration of a contractor's past performance during the contractor selection process, establishment of appropriate safety and health requirements in contract specifications and ensuring the inclusion of applicable safety and health clauses.

The Pre-Bid Meeting

In the pre-bid meeting, contract safety requirements should be discussed, including:

  • site specific safety plan
  • designated safety representative identification and requirements
  • daily pre-work coordination meetings
  • safety enforcement policies and procedures
  • drug screening
  • identification of potential hazards
  • defining hazard control responsibilities

2. When is the construction site specific safety plan discussed?

a. About a year before the start of operations
b. At the pre-bid meeting
c. After the initial bids are in
d. When drug screening has been accomplished

The Pre-Mobilization Meeting

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The Pre-Mobilization clarifies responsibilities.

During the pre-mobilization meeting, the following should be discussed:

  • contractual safety requirements
  • site-specific safety plan
  • pre-phase work plan discussion
  • requirement for daily pre-task meetings
  • requirements for safety talks, worker and supervisor training
  • confirm assignment of safety responsibilities
  • roles, responsibilities, accountability and authority of the owner, general contractor and all contractor personnel
Do you see any hazardous conditions in this image?
Weekly safety meetings can save lives.

Weekly Safety and Health Meetings

Once the project is underway, it's important to conduct weekly safety meetings with representatives from all contractors. These meetings are very important because of the constant change that occurs, and because it sends a message to all workers that safety is a value and that managers care about their employees' safety. The safety and health meetings should include at least the following:

  • Incidents and reports of incidents that have taken place since the last meeting,
  • A discussion and list of potential, upcoming hazardous situations such as confined space entry, steel erection, and roof work
  • Environmental concerns

3. Why are the weekly safety meetings on construction sites so important?

a. To see who is paying attention
b. To show workers who is boss
c. Because OSHA requires it
d. Because there is constant change

Contractor Selection Criteria

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Always consider safety performance when selecting contractors.

It's traditional to select construction contractors based on three criteria:

  • low bidder
  • lower bidder
  • lowest bidder that can start now

However, in a world-class construction company that understands the importance of safety, they will not make a decision based solely on cost. They will use the following criteria:

  • Total Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transferred Rate (DART) should be below national average
  • Total Case Incidence Rate (TCIR) should be below the national average
  • Experience Modification Rate (EMR) of less than 1.0 for past three years, and improving.
  • past safety performance
  • site-specific safety plan development
  • key management and worker training and experience

4. Construction companies should NOT select contractors based on _____.

a. low bid
b. past safety performance
c. Experience Modification Rate (EMR)
d. DART rate

Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transferred Rate (DART)

The DART Rate (Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transferred) is another common incident rate used in all industries. The DART Rate is the number of CASES with days away from work or job transfer or restrictions (cases on the OSHA 300 log with either column H or I checked) multiplied by 200,000 divided by total hours worked by all employees during the year covered. You can compute the DART Rate using the following formula:


For instance, if a contractor has had 10 DART incidents and 200 full-time employees who worked a total of 400,000 hours in 2018, the DART Rate would be:

(10/400,000) x 200,000 = .000025 x 200,000 = 5.

On construction sites, the total number of hours worked by all employees will include your own employees, your temporary employees, and contractors directly supervised by you plus all contractor/subcontractor employees.

5. Which of the following is a common incident rate used in all industries?

a. Total Accident Rate
b. IMIR Rate
c. Modified Incident Rate
d. DART Rate

Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR)

The Total Case Incident Rate, or “TCIR” is a common method used to report workplace injuries. It is defined as the average number of work-related injuries incurred by 100 workers during a one-year period. This number will be total injuries and illnesses of your own employees plus all contractor/subcontractor employees.

The TCIR is typically calculated as follows:


For example, if an employer with 50 workers reported 10 injuries in 2013, and workers in that industry worked 1,000,000 hours that year, then the 2013 TCIR for that employer would be:


Use of the TCIR to report workplace injuries allows comparison of accident and injury statistics across industries, among industry segments, and from one year to the next.

6. This common statistic is used to report the average number of work-related injuries incurred by 100 workers during a one-year period.

a. Average Case Incident Rate (ACIR)
b. Total Annual Incident Rate (TAIR)
c. Average Annual Incident Rate (AAIR)
d. Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR)

Experience Modification Rate (Mod Rate or EMR)

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Always consider safety performance when selecting contractors.

The Experience Modification Rate (EMR) has strong impact upon a business. It is a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. The lower the EMR of your business, the lower your worker compensation insurance premiums will be. An EMR of 1.0 is considered the industry average. (Source: Safety Management Group).

According to the Michigan Construction Users Council (MCUC), the following EMR chart shows the relative effectiveness of a contractor’s CSMS.

0.30 - 0.71 = Superior – Distinguished results
0.72 - 0.81 = Effective – Impressive results – Obvious commitment
0.82 – 1.04 = Average – Within industry norm
1.05 – 1.29 = Inadequate – Conspicuous past problems
1.30 – 2.05 = Poor – Lack of safety involvement

As you can see, safety is a serious consideration when choosing contractors to work on the construction project. Using these criteria will not only result in selecting a higher level of contractor safety, it will also result in selecting a contractor that will be more professional in all aspects of the contracted work that will be performed. See the ABCs of Experience Rating, from NCCI for more information on the EMR.

7. Which of the following contractors has the best safety record compared to the average within their industry?

a. RTFQ Contractors - EMR = 1.5
b. ABC Contractors - EMR = .5
c. XYZ Contractors - EMR = .85
d. TFB Contractors - EMR = 1.8

Key Players

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Key players put it all together.

The contractor, the owner, general contractor, project manager, site superintendent, and safety manager, should all have:

  • adequate safety management training
  • previous experience on similar type construction projects
  • previous experience on projects of similar size
  • a history of success on previous projects

All managers on the construction site should be competent in safety management. Workers should be competent in the specific work they are performing.

An OSHA "competent person" is defined as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them" [29 CFR 1926.32(f)] Heavy equipment operators should all be able to show written documentation providing proof of competency. Also, a trained on-site healthcare provider or nurse should be present on large projects (more than $75 million).

Project Designers

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Project engineers should design safety into construction.

Project designers that are involved in the construction phase should do the following:

  • Identify the impact of changes in the design of the health and safety of those involved in the project.
  • Provide sufficient information on health and safety associated with the design and planning to those who need it, so they can conduct the necessary training if needed.
  • Cooperate and coordinate with the contracted parties, and, where appropriate, other designers/advisers involved in the project.
  • Provide ongoing advice and information, if requested, regarding the head contractor’s health and safety plan (such as by advising of any changes to planned activities).
  • Ensure other designers/advisers and contractors continue to carry out their duties and coordinate with others on the project (such as by asking for regular written activity reports or holding site meetings).

8. OSHA defines one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards and has authorization to take prompt corrective measures as a _____.

a. primary supervisor
b. project designer
c. authorized manager
d. competent person

Head Contractors

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This head contractor may want to check out that worker behind him.

The general or head contractor on site should do the following:

  • Develop and carry out a site-specific health and safety plan.
  • Ensure any contractor engaged to carry out construction work is competent and has made suitable provisions for health and safety.
  • Obtain and check site-specific safety plans from subcontractors.
  • Ensure there is coordination and cooperation of subcontractors regarding the following:
    • information and on-site activity (such as site meetings, site procedures)
    • appropriate communication arrangements between contractors on site for health and safety
    • arrangements for discussing health and safety matters with people on site (such as setting regular toolbox/tailgate meeting times)
    • incident and accident reporting
  • Ensure training for health and safety is carried out.
  • Make arrangements to monitor health and safety performance (such as reports, audits and inspections).
  • Make arrangements to pass on information from the client or designer/adviser to other contractors and employees (such as activity reports).
  • Make arrangements to control visitor access, including such things as delivery of materials.

9. Who should be responsible to see that all workers on the construction site are properly trained in their tasks?

a. Safety managers
b. Each subcontractor
c. Head/General contractors
d. Project engineers
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Each construction project should have a safety manager.

Project Safety Representatives and Managers

During the construction phase it will be important to do the following:

  • Continue to identify the impact of changes on the worksite in safety and health of workers involved in the project.
  • Continue to provide sufficient information on health and safety on the worksite to supervisors and those who will train workers on safety, so they can conduct the necessary training if needed.
  • Cooperate and coordinate safety and health with the subcontractors and others throughout each phase of the project.
  • Provide advice and information regarding the general contractor’s health and safety plan to everyone involved with the project.
  • Ensure the general contractor and all subcontractors continue to carry out their duties and responsibilities to regularly submit activity reports and hold worksite safety meeting.

10. Who is responsible for ensuring all contractors submit activity reports and hold worksite safety meetings?

a. Each employee working on the site
b. The host employer and OSHA
c. Safety representatives and managers
d. Each subcontractor if assigned

Contractor Non-Compliance

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Insist on compliance to prevent accidents like this.

If the contractors, managers, or supervisors find an employee, contractor or subcontractor to be acting or working in a non-compliant manner, he/she may have the authority to order immediate correction or cessation of the non-compliant occurrence.

Non-compliance with the Contractor Environmental, Health & Safety Guidelines or regulatory requirements may be grounds for immediate dismissal of the contractor, subcontractor, and their employees. The severity of the infraction and possible dismissal may be at the discretion of the host employer or contractor.

Failure of the contractor to comply with all local, state, and federal regulations and guidelines of the host employer could result in a notice of non-compliance and written notification to the contractors employer. If the contractor fails to take corrective action, the employer may exercise any or all of the following.

  • remove the contractor or their subcontractors from the project
  • remove the contractor or their subcontractors from the approved bidders list

11. What actions may be taken if a contractor is found to be in non-compliance with employer, local, state, or federal requirements and fails to take corrective action?

a. Report the non-compliance to OSHA for possible citations
b. Removal from the project and/or approved bidders list
c. Require the contractor to give a reason for the non-compliance
d. A verbal warning in response to the non-compliance

Multi-Employer Communication and Coordination

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Most large projects are multi-employer worksites.

In today’s economy, an increasing number of workers are assigned by staffing agencies to work at specific "host" worksites under the direction and control of the host employer.

Before coming on site, contractors and staffing agencies and their workers are aware of:

  • the types of hazards that may be present
  • the procedures or measures they need to use to avoid or control their exposure to these hazards
  • how to contact the host employer to report an injury, illness, or incident or if they have a safety concern

It also means that host employers and their workers are aware of:

  • the types of hazards that may arise from the work being done on site by workers employed by contractors or staffing agencies
  • the procedures or measures needed to avoid or control exposure to these hazards
  • how to contact the contract or staffing firm if they have a safety concern
  • what to do in case of an emergency

Characteristics of effective multi-employer communication and coordination include:

  • Host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies provide the same level of protection to all employees.
  • Staffing agencies provide general safety education to temporary employees and host employers provide specific technical training for required tasks and procedures.
  • Host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies communicate the hazards present at the worksite and the hazards that work of contract workers may create on site.
  • Before beginning work, host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies coordinate on work planning and scheduling to identify and resolve any conflicts that could affect safety or health.

12. Staffing agencies provide _____ and host employers provide _____ to temporary employees.

a. general safety education; specific technical training
b. specific technical training; general safety instruction
c. general safety training; specific safety education
d. initial safety training; follow-up safety training

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