The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC) are urging commercial construction firms across the country to act on 13 specific steps to further improve workplace safety.
Association officials said the new safety measures were needed to address a growing influx of new and inexperienced workers that is contributing to an increase in the number of construction fatalities nationwide and in the Carolinas.
"As new, relatively inexperienced workers come on board, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to do more as an industry to make sure these workers do not harm themselves or their co-workers," said Brian Turmail, the association's national spokesman. "Our goal with these new recommendations is simple, to make sure every worker comes home safely to their families, every night."
"Nothing we do in the construction industry is more important than safety. One accident is one too many. One fatality is unacceptable," said CAGC President and CEO Dave Simpson.
The safety recommendations include requiring every worker on a project to complete a safety orientation session, providing workers with easy-to-read ID tags that identify their level of safety training and giving workers "Stop Work" cards they can issue to halt activity on a project when they spot safety hazards. Other measures include holding monthly employee-led safety training lunch and learn sessions and providing specific training in response to all safety incidents that occur on a job site.
Recommendations are based on an in-depth analysis of effective safety programs the association performed as part of its Willis Construction Safety Excellence Awards. Turmail noted that the association and Willis looked at what makes winning firms'—including local Charlotte, NC firm WB Moore Electrical Contractors—safety programs effective, and then boiled that analysis down into easy-to-implement steps that are proven to improve safety.
The association released the new safety recommendations to help firms deal with the growth in construction fatalities that has occurred as the industry expands. The total number of construction fatalities nationwide increased from 738 to 874 between 2011 and 2014, an 18 percent increase.
One reason for the increase in construction fatalities is that many firms are struggling to find enough qualified workers to fill available positions amid growing demand for construction services. Turmail noted that 86 percent of firms responding to the association's recently released Workforce Shortage Survey reported having a hard time finding qualified workers. In addition, 15 percent of firms reported that the lack of qualified workers contributed to an increase in the number of safety incidents.
The association sent the safety recommendations to its member firms earlier and is sharing the recommendations with non-member firms as well. "We want to make sure every firm can share in our knowledge of what works and what doesn't when it comes to safety," Turmail added.