Tuesday, November 08, 2011 11:39 AM
Improving Safety Through Innovative Contracting
In our companion publication, Grading & Excavation Contractor, we’ve been watching an interesting phenomenon take place: a fiscal sword, wielded by the people with the projects, that is having an amazingly positive impact on safety and on environmental compliance—something that we in the waste industry might find worthy of consideration. First let me pose examples, and then let’s look at how they may be applied to our universe.
Hoofbeats of the Dreaded EMR
EMR—Efficiency Modification Rating—is the system developed by the insurance industry to measure one activity’s safety performance relative to all others with the same SIC. While the methodology involved is a little more complex, what it comes down to is this: If your EMR is 1.0, your safety performance is dead-nuts average for your SIC group. An EMR greater than 1.0 means your performance is worse than average; lower than 1.0, your safety performance is better than average.
A few years back, several large companies recognized that no matter what the circumstances, accidents occurring during construction on any of their sites inevitably led to litigation. These pioneers decided to take matters into their own hands by making safety part of the bidding process. Quite simply, this was accomplished by refusing access to the bidding process to contractors with worse (greater) than a 1.0 EMR, and to bar the use of subcontractors who didn’t meet the same standard. So dramatic have been the results of this practice that it has been adopted by an increasing number of project owners—public as well as private—around the country.
Are contractors getting the message? You bet, particularly when half of them wake up to the realization that they are not eligible to bid on a growing number of the most lucrative projects around ... and that the safety bar will be even higher in the future as contractors recognize the importance of safety to their competitive viability. Thus, whether as a matter of enlightenment or terror, the road to safety in the construction field is showing real progress…and all the more significant in the light of the continuing recession.
Is There a Lesson Here for Us?
You betcha! If you contract out services, you have an excellent opportunity—and I would go further to suggest that you consider it an obligation—to control risks to the people for whom you work, at the same time taking effective action to upgrade the safety and environmental stewardship of the entire industry in ways that have proved to be both effective and fair.
On the safety side of the coin, by establishing a baseline EMR for would-be contractors, you’re not telling them how to run their safety programs. Instead, you are insisting on a proven level of safety performance.
On the environmental compliance side for your landfill or other construction-related activities, I suggest you go to http://www.forester.net and subscribe to our sister publication, Stormwater, for information and assistance with stormwater regulatory compliance training and certification. It is the authoritative publication on this and related subjects.