Hiring a Safe Contractor is Important to Your Bottom line
When a real estate developer, commercial building owner or school hire a contractor to perform work they are entering into a contractual relationship where safety can affect their bottom line. Construction is an industry of risk where injuries and even fatalities will occur. Overall nonfatal injuries are more prevalent in healthcare and agriculture than construction, however more serious and fatal injuries occur in manufacturing and construction.[i] Although, fatalities are on a decline since 2003 they still remain high.[ii] In 2016, the private industry had 4,693 fatalities and 21.1% of them were in the field of construction. Over 37% of those were fall related fatalities.[iii]
It is important for owners as well as general contractors to control costs. Safety can affect the bottom line directly as well as indirectly on any project. Just like the owner or general contractor, independent contractors have overhead costs that are affected by liability insurance and worker’s compensations costs. Unsafe contractors have to increase their project costs to account for this shortfall. This is more indirect since overhead costs are rightfully kept confidential and merely hidden in the margin-thus an increase cost to the owner. Injuries and fatalities on a project can have a direct impact on the overall costs of a project through lengthy litigation as well as delays to project completion.
With a current EMR rating of .54 [updated 2018] is proof that Progressive Roofing takes safety very seriously. This year, Progressive Roofing in Dallas held the first annual Safety Fest. This was a mandatory event that concentrated in the following areas;
- Fall protection
- Ladder safety
- Kettle safety and operation
- Crane safety and signaling
- Fire protection
- Heavy equipment operation
Progressive Roofing understands the importance of safety, not only to general contractors, but to owners as well. This emphasis on safety is even more palpable in Texas. With a booming economy, structures can’t be built quick enough to fit the demand. As the need for speed in construction increases so does the risk for workplace fatalities. According to OSHA statistics, Texas ranks No. 1 in work related fatalities. Between 2003 and 2008 California and Texas were fairly close in total number of fatalities ranging between 459-537 fatalities each per year. However, after 2008 Texas holds No. 1 with a substantial lead. For example in 2014 Texas had 531 fatalities for No.1 spot and California had 344 fatalities for the No. 2 spot.[iv]
Another reason why safety should be a concern for Texas owners is how worker’s compensation law are litigated. In Texas, worker’s compensation insurance sets limits on restitution an injured worker can receive. [v] An injured worker can work around this limit by “suing the general contractor, owner, or both.” Under the law the general contractor and owner are treated in the same manner.[vi] The owner as well as the general contractor have the responsibility to keep the construction area under control and warn independent contractors and all others about concealed hazards. However, they are not responsible to warn about obvious hazards. A claim against the general contractor and owner arises when there is a failure to use ordinary care to reduce risk on the premises.[vii]
In Texas, the independent contractor is responsible for performing their work in a safe manner, but there are exceptions to this general rule. Under Restatement rule 411, an employer (general contractor and owner) can be held liable if they were negligent in hiring an incompetent contractor who caused the injury. For example, an owner or general contractor might be found at fault in contracting a driver with a drunk driving record if that driver caused an accident while intoxicated. Restatement rule 414 an owner or general contractor who controls any part of the work that they hired an independent contractor to be solely responsible for, may also be held liable. [viii]
As you can see liability for safety can be difficult to understand. Each state has their own set of laws and regulations. Safety can affect the bottom line directly and indirectly on all projects. Progressive Roofing understands that many corporations work across state lines because they do so as well. Progressive Roofing continues to set safety benchmarks in order to give unsurpassed quality and value to their clients throughout the United States on all projects.
[vi] http://www.haynesboone.com/~/media/files/attorney%20publications/2018/employer%20liability%20for%20independent%20contractor%20injury.ashx (page 1). Author uses owner and general contractor as “employers” collectively.