Back to Basics: Now’s the Time for Contractors to Revisit Their Risk Profile

An updated risk assessment identifies problems now to protect a business’ future.
By Randy Dombrowski
July 19, 2022

As we approach the second half of 2022, the construction industry continues to shift. From supply chain disruptions and inflation to a pandemic and changing workforce, it’s no surprise that workplace risks have evolved in recent years.

Yet some of the costliest hazards facing construction businesses are risks that have always existed. Take worker injuries as an example. According to the National Safety Council’s most recent report, employers faced $12.8 billion of uninsured costs associated with work-related injuries.

Insurance alone is not enough. As risks increase, now is the time for contractors to re-evaluate their risk profile and focus on strong risk management habits. Here are a few reminders to help contractors get back to the basics and reduce worksite accidents.

What is the purpose of an updated risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a process that allows contractors to identify and document hazards in business operations. The information collected during analysis may help prevent worksite accidents and reduce employee injuries, property damage and lost production.

How often should contractors assess their business’ risks?

In recent years, accelerated schedules and industry disruptions have caused some businesses to push their risk assessments to the wayside. In some cases, organizations have delayed their risk assessments by months—and even years. As a rule of thumb, contractors should review their risks at least once a year, if not more frequently, as they begin new projects.

How to identify your potential risks

Before improving a safety program, contractors first need to assess their risks. Every business faces its own unique set of pressures—and likely more considerations than can be shared in one article. To help contractors start, here are a few common areas to review.

Examine the different segments of the organization, the potential risks they could pose and whether the business experienced changes in those areas.

  • Property and inventory: Consider the materials owned and relied on to complete projects. Risks may include storm damage, fires, theft and supply chain delays.
  • Employees: Identify the tasks and responsibilities that could cause injuries to the team. Strains, sprains, trips and falls should remain a focus in addition to electrical, struck-by and caught-in-between hazards. Labor shortages and changes to the employee base could present further challenges.
  • Environmental exposures: Project environments change over time. Discuss noise, airborne exposures, chemical risks and ergonomic hazards.
  • Auto and equipment: Vehicles and equipment—whether owned, hired or leased—could add risk to the business. One accident can cause physical damage costs and injuries to employees and others involved.
  • Third parties: Any job-related task that could cause an injury or property damage to someone outside the organization is a risk. Vendor relationships, legal liabilities, reputational harm and data breaches all influence the risk profile.
  • Quality: As a contractor, success relies on the quality of work. But projects change, and mistakes happen. If contractors make an error during construction, it could lead to liabilities in the future.

Review and update written safety plans

After completing a risk assessment, contractors will need to turn the findings into actionable steps. Identifying and correcting gaps in the current safety program will take time, but the benefits may make a significant difference for the business and bottom line. Be prepared to:

  • Re-prioritize the elements of the safety program strategy;
  • Provide necessary resources and personnel to help carry out the new objectives;
  • Develop appropriate training plans for managers and employees;
  • Communicate changes to employees; and
  • Continue measuring progress to ensure the changes implemented are effective.

Establish a frequent training cadence

The overall success of the construction business depends on the team’s commitment to implement—and follow—the updates made to the safety program. Training today is more important than ever. At any given time, the business may have new or temporary workers, an increase in employee absences or a shortened timeline to complete projects.

Don’t assume every individual on the team understands each hazard and the recommended safety practices. For example, one employee may have previous electrical work experience, but it could have been months since they were last tasked with the responsibility. The process of affirming and-reaffirming safety habits is critical. As an employer, it’s the business’ responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are competent, qualified or designated based on training.

Monthly training plans should include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Hazard communication;
  • Fall protection;
  • Electrical safety;
  • Heavy equipment;
  • Fleet safety;
  • Ergonomics; and
  • First-aid.

Commit to a safer culture

Remember, the primary purpose of an updated risk assessment is to identify problems now, which will help develop plans that protect the business’s future. The tips and reminders above should help contractors get started, but they shouldn’t replace the conversations had with an insurer or local experts. With commitment and collaboration, contractors can establish practical safety guidelines that make sense for the business and employees.

by Randy Dombrowski
Randy Dombrowski is a safety services manager for Sentry Insurance. Sentry provides insurance and risk management solutions to construction businesses. Visit to learn more.

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