When you’re in a high-risk industry like construction, insurance is a must-have. And coverage can be affordable, if you play your cards right. If you want to keep your rates low, avoiding claims is the #1 tip to do so. But sometimes that can be easier said than done.
Here are seven jobsite mishaps that could lead to a claim and higher insurance rates (and some tips to help you avoid them.)
#1: Worker Falls
There’s a reason that falls head up the list of OSHA’s top four construction hazards. There are so many times during construction that your work boots are up off the ground. Whether you’re on top of a ladder, a scaffold, or a roof, avoiding falls is critical to your (and your employees’) safety.
Tips to avoid fall-related claims:
- Wear and use personal fall arrest equipment.
- Install and maintain perimeter protection.
- Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
- Use ladders and scaffolds safely.
#2: Struck-by Accidents
The second leading cause of construction fatalities is struck-by hazards. Most fatalities for highway workers occur from being struck by heavy construction equipment, and one in four struck-by-vehicle deaths involves construction workers.
The danger of a struck-by hazard is just as real off the highway as on it. Falling and flying objects pose a serious threat to worker safety, whether you’re working under a crane or scaffold or nearby power tools that could send particles flying at high speeds.
Tips to avoid struck-by claims:
- Always wear a hard hat and eye protection.
- Use debris nets, canopies and catch platforms.
- Secure all loads, tools, and materials.
- Never position yourself between moving and fixed objects.
- Wear high-visibility clothes near equipment/vehicles.
- Equip vehicles with rear vision cameras and detection radars.
#3: Electrical Hazards
The third leading cause of fatal construction accidents is electrical hazards, which account for 12% of construction deaths. Electrical hazards can take many forms, from contact with power lines and live circuits to your equipment itself.
Tips to avoid electrical hazard claims:
- Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
- Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
- Maintain a safe distance away from power lines; learn the safe distance requirements.
- Do not operate portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.
- Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection.
- Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.
- Keep cords away from water, heat, oil and sharp edges.
- Use double-insulated tools.
- Immediately stop using any power tool that is wet, overheating, smoking, starting to smell or causing you to feel a tingle or shock.
- Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing and when changing parts.
#4: Getting Caught In or Between Hazards
Preventing caught in or caught between hazards could prevent up to 5% of all construction fatalities from occurring. Caught in hazards can include trench cave-ins, being pinned by or caught in machinery or mechanical equipment, or getting caught in/ pinned in a heavy equipment rollover.
Tips to prevent caught in or between hazards:
- Never enter an unprotected trench or excavation 5 feet or deeper without an adequate protective system in place; some trenches under 5 feet deep may also need such a system.
- Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems.
- Use machine guards to protect against moving parts and equipment.
- Do not operate heavy equipment next to steep grades or on unstable soil.
- Use equipment with ROPS (Roll-Over Protective Structure) and always fasten a seat belt.
Preventing the “Fatal Four” construction fatalities from occurring is a huge step in keeping workers safer, avoiding accidents, and keeping your insurance history claim-free. But there are a few other ways you can prevent mishaps that could lead to increased insurance rates, as well.
#5: Forgetting about Fire Prevention
Even if a fire occurred on an empty jobsite and nobody was injured, there could still be damage and loss to the project itself, your tools and equipment, or the materials on site. Make fire prevention a priority.
Tips for fire prevention:
- Train all employees in fire prevention practices.
- Keep flammable materials and chemicals such as paint, aerosols, and lacquers separate and in a plastic container.
- Never store flammable materials near a fire or source of heat.
- Properly dispose of any rags or other materials that come into contact with flammable materials.
#6: Not Securing the Work Area
Deter unauthorized site visitors to prevent anyone from coming on to the jobsite without approval. Securing the project site can not only help prevent vandalism and theft of material and tools left on site, it can also help prevent third-party injury. Because the only thing worse than having your site vandalized would be to pay for the vandal’s medical bills if they tripped over a 2x4 and got injured in the process.
Tips to secure the worksite:
- Keep all tools and equipment locked and the keys secured when not in use.
- Install locks on storage sheds and fences.
- Keep the site well lit; use motion sensored lighting.
- Consider installing video monitoring or employing a security patrol.
#7: Ignoring Your Client
Did you know that an open line of communication with a client can help keep them happier and less likely to bring a lawsuit your way? In a study of malpractice claims, doctors that had never been sued tended to spend more time conversing and engaging with their patients compared to doctors who had been sued.
The takeaway is clear: stay engaged with homeowners and clients, and let them know what’s going on with the project. You never know, a few extra phone calls could be all it takes to prevent a lawsuit from an unhappy client.
Tip: Clients who feel like they are being listened to and included are less likely to sue.
Your insurance coverage is there for when you need it, but wouldn’t it be great if you never did? From worker safety to properly securing your tools and equipment, and even being attentive to a homeowner, there are many ways you can prevent incidents and accidents that become insurance claims. And claim prevention means more affordable rates for your construction business.