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Clear Communication with Safety Professionals During Contract Stage Can Reduce Safety Concerns on Construction Sites

Posted in on Thu, Aug 29, 2013

September ASSE Professional Safety journal article highlights the need to include safety management in the earliest phases of construction contracts

Studies have shown that the inclusion of various safety requirements in construction contract documents have a positive impact on worker safety. Contract Issues and Construction Safety Management, a peer-reviewed feature in the September issue of Professional Safety the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) journal, reports on a survey of construction and safety professionals that identifies the most common contract issues related to safety management and the frequency and severity of contract issues relative to worker safety on construction sites.

“Often times safety professionals spend all of their time and energy on construction safety after the fact,” explained the article’s co-author, Brian Clarke, CSP. “If safety professionals can get involved in contract discussions up front, they can engineer out the safety problem before the project starts.”

When a construction contract has too many ambiguities, its language can be subject to interpretation of what the parties agreed to during early negotiations. The most common contract aspects of contract disputes are cost, quality, schedule and safety.

Clarke and article co-authors Sathy Rajendran, Ph.D., M.S., CSP, LEED AP, CRIS and Michael Whelan, Ph.D., reveal that the survey of construction safety professionals and project managers located in the Pacific Northwest, showed that 4.8% of company contract disputes could be attributed to safety management issues.

Safety professionals employ several strategies recommended in the article to help eliminate contract issues. These include: compiling a checklist of safety issues to help contract managers and safety professionals remember to include appropriate items in the final contract, becoming involved with a client’s marketing department early in the process to avoid commitment of unrealistic or unnecessary safety resource levels in attempt to win a project, having the owner clearly communicate safety expectations for the project for proper resource allocation, and active participation in the request for proposal (RFP) process as well as all pre-bid, pre-award, contract mobilization and craft orientation meetings.

“Bring on the safety professional early so we can go through the documents,” Clarke added. “If a safety professional communicates clearly and honestly from the very beginning of a project’s contract phase, the safety concerns will go down significantly.”

 

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For more than 50 years, ASSE’s Professional Safety journal has been sharing the latest technical knowledge in SH&E—information that is constantly being developed through research and on-the-job experience. Each issue delivers practical guidance, techniques and solutions to help SH&E professionals identify hazards, protect people, prevent injuries, improve work environments and educate management that investing in safety is a sound business strategy. For more information please visit http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety.

Founded in 1911, the Chicago-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 35,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org.



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