According to Zurich data, there is not enough skilled labor to support demand in the construction industry. Because of the lack of skilled labor on job sites, compensation claims are increasing for construction companies, causing some organizations to spend as much as 14 to 21 percent of total payroll on disability costs as a result of employees being off work. To help combat this, Zurich offers these four tips:
- Pre-placement/post offer testing can help screen candidates with injury or those who lack the physical condition to perform heavy work. This screening can consist of both a medical exam and a functional assessment. But it will ultimately help employers determine proper placement of employees and reasonable accommodation of qualified applicants, limit liability for work-related injuries and illnesses, and promote workplace safety.
- Mentoring programs help to increase workplace safety with careful training and supervision of inexperienced hires. Apprenticeship programs in California, for example, are developed and conducted by program sponsors including employers, employer associations and/or a jointly sponsored labor/management association. Local education agencies individually contract with program sponsors providing educational leadership.
- Implementing a return to work program (RTW) can help minimize the chance of older employees retiring into a disability status. Maintaining a work schedule and being active can also help with the rehabilitation of illness. Even better, companies can reduce total program costs by 15 to 30 percent per year by implementing a RTW programs, according to industry estimates.
- Some RTW program best practices include supplying injured workers with preferred health care providers; establishing job descriptions including physical job demands; identifying and offering temporary transitional work assignments as soon as medically appropriate; and considering alternative work options like not-for-profit work for cases where on-site RTW is ruled out.
General contractors should implement these risk management practices in their direct business. But, they should also verify their subcontractors have similar work safety standards and programs. As we all know, GCs can be adversely affected by a subcontractor’s inattention to worker safety.