The improvement in the economy is great news for construction firms and construction workers. However, there is a downside to this. The number of skilled workers has declined, according to an insurance industry magazine. They retired, moved into other fields or dropped out of the labor market. How this development will affect the rate of accidents and injuries is unclear.
Of course, contractors and owners would prefer to put the responsibility entirely on workers. Unfortunately, the law does not permit this. Owners must provide safety training and personal protective equipment. They must have work plans that incorporate local state and federal safety regulations.
Despite improvements, many of which were required by applicable laws, construction remains the most deadly of all major industries. At a conference about construction risk management, reported in the industry magazine Business Insurance, a major contractor in Dallas, noted that owners can purchase the right equipment and follow OSHA practices. However, he said, employee communication is critical to really keeping workers safe.
Whether in Dallas or New York City, many construction workers are not native English speakers. This makes it critical to provide training and safety communication that workers can understand. If a company has a great safety program but does not communicate it effectively, it is as bad as not having one at all. One speaker at the conference stressed the importance of listening to worker safety concerns, because they are the people who know how to the work and are the ones being injured.