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Course 800 - Introduction to Construction Safety Management

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Working with Contractors



Construction contractors are responsible for ensuring that all work under contract meets or exceeds the OSHA standards in addition to complying with the company’s safety and health standards. The contractor is responsible for ensuring safe work performance of employees and subcontractors.

Construction contractors provide a variety of construction services, including:

  • building construction and maintenance activities
  • utilities and infrastructure construction
  • grounds maintenance
  • training and consultation
  • installation, testing, calibration, repair, and maintenance of equipment and instruments

All of these work activities must be performed safely and in accordance with the applicable safety codes, standards and regulations.

Involvement Begins Before the Project Starts

It's important that the employer communicates about safety in all phases of the construction project. From the time the project is first conceived until it is finished, safety must be an important part of the development and planning process.

During the Pre-Award phase, requirements are developed, solicitations are sought, contractors are selected and contracts are awarded. Key safety related efforts during this phase include:

  • consideration of a contractor’s past performance during the contractor selection process,
  • establishment of appropriate safety and health requirements in contract specifications, and
  • inclusion of applicable safety and health clauses.

The Pre-Bid Meeting

In the pre-bid meeting, contract safety requirements should be discussed, including:

  • site specific safety plan
  • designated safety representative identification and requirements
  • daily pre-work coordination meetings
  • safety enforcement policies and procedures
  • drug screening
  • identification of potential hazards
  • defining hazard control responsibilities

The Pre-Mobilization Meeting

During the pre-mobilization meeting, the following should be discussed:

  • contractual safety requirements
  • site-specific safety plan
  • pre-phase work plan discussion
  • requirement for daily pre-task meetings
  • requirements for safety talks, worker and supervisor training
  • confirm assignment of safety responsibilities
  • roles, responsibilities, accountability and authority of the owner, general contractor and all contractor personnel

Contractor Selection Criteria

It's traditional to select construction contractors based on three criteria:

  • low bidder
  • lower bidder
  • lowest bidder that can start now

However, in a world-class construction company that understands the importance of safety, they will not make a decision based solely on cost. They will use the following criteria:

  • Total Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transferred Rate (DART) should be below national average
  • Total Case Incidence Rate (TCIR) should be below the national average
  • Experience Modification Rate (EMR) of less than 1.0 for past three years, and improving.
  • Past safety performance
  • Site-specific safety plan development
  • Key management and worker training and experience


The "DART" (Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transferred) is another incident rate used in all industries. The DART Rate is the number of CASES with days away from work or job transfer or restrictions (cases on the OSHA 300 log with either column H or I checked) multiplied by 200,000 divided by total hours worked by all employees during the year covered. You can compute the DART Rate using the following formula:


On construction sites, the total number of hours worked by all employees will include your own employees, your temporary employees, and contractors directly supervised by you plus all contractor/subcontractor employees.

Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR)

The Total Case Incident Rate, or “TCIR” is a common method used to report workplace injuries. It is defined as the average number of work-related injuries incurred by 100 workers during a one-year period. This number will be total injuries and illnesses of your own employees plus all contractor/subcontractor employees. Use of the TCIR to report workplace injuries allows comparison of accident and injury statistics across industries, among industry segments, and from one year to the next.

The TCIR is typically calculated as follows:


For example, if an employer with 50 workers reported 10 injuries in 2013, and workers in that industry worked 1,000,000 hours that year, then the 2013 TCIR for that employer would be:


Experience Modification Rate (Mod Rate or EMR)

The Experience Modification Rate (EMR) has strong impact upon a business. It is a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. The lower the EMR of your business, the lower your worker compensation insurance premiums will be. An EMR of 1.0 is considered the industry average. (Source: Safety Management Group).

According to the Michigan Construction Users Council (MCUC), the following EMR chart indicates the relative effectiveness of a contractor’s CSMS.

0.30 - 0.71 = Superior – Distinguished results
0.72 - 0.81 = Effective – Impressive results – Obvious commitment
0.82 – 1.04 = Average – Within industry norm
1.05 – 1.29 = Inadequate – Conspicuous past problems
1.30 – 2.05 = Poor – Lack of safety involvement

As you can see, safety is a serious consideration when choosing contractors to work on the construction project. Using this criteria will not only result in selecting a higher level of contractor safety, it will also result in selecting a contractor that will be more professional in all aspects of the contracted work that will be performed.

Key Players

The contractor, the owner, general contractor, project manager, site superintendent, and safety manager, should all have:

  • adequate safety management training
  • previous experience on similar type construction projects
  • previous experience on projects of similar size
  • a history of success on previous projects

All managers on the construction site should be competent in safety management. Workers should be competent in the work they are performing. Heavy equipment operators should all be able to show written documentation providing proof of competency. Also, a trained on-site healthcare provider or nurse should be present on large projects (more than $75 million).

Project Designers

Project designers that are involved in the construction phase should do the following:

  • identify the impact of changes in your design on the health and safety of those involved in the project
  • provide sufficient information on health and safety associated with your design and planning to those who need it, so they can conduct the necessary training if needed
  • cooperate and coordinate with the contracted parties, and, where appropriate, other designers/advisers involved in the project
  • provide ongoing advice and information, if requested, regarding the head contractor’s health and safety plan (such as by advising of any changes to planned activities)
  • make sure other designers/advisers and contractors continue to carry out their duties and co-ordinate with others on the project (such as by asking for regular written activity reports or holding site meetings)

Head Contractors

The general or head contractor on site should do the following:

  • develop and carry out a site-specific health and safety plan
  • make sure any contractor engaged to carry out construction work is competent and has made suitable provisions for health and safety
  • obtain and check site-specific safety plans from subcontractors
  • make sure the co-ordination and co-operation of subcontractors regarding:
    • information and on-site activity (such as site meetings, site procedures)
    • appropriate communication arrangements between contractors on site for health and safety
    • arrangements for discussing health and safety matters with people on site (such as setting regular toolbox/tailgate meeting times)
    • incident and accident reporting
  • make sure training for health and safety is carried out
  • make arrangements to monitor health and safety performance (such as reports, audits and inspections)
  • make arrangements to pass on information from the client or designer/adviser to other contractors and employees (such as activity reports)
  • make arrangements to control visitor access, including such things as delivery of materials


Subcontractors on site should do the following:

  • develop a site-specific safety plan for your work activity
  • identify the hazards of your work, assessed the risks arising from them, and told the head contractor and client about how these risks will be controlled
  • obtain evidence of the training and competence of your subcontractors and employees
  • keep the head contractor informed of any dangerous incident or accident
  • provide the head contractor with the information needed for health and safety management
  • cooperate with the head contractor and other contractors on health and safety matters
  • follow any directions of the client or head contractor so that they can meet their obligations
  • provide information and training to your employees on site


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Requirements are developed, solicitations are sought, contractors are selected and contracts are awarded during the _____.

2. All of the following should be discussed in the pre-bid meeting, except _____.

3. All of the following should be discussed in the pre-mobilization meeting, except _____.

4. Which of the following is a characteristic of a world-class company that understands the importance of safety?

5. The contractor should have all of the following, except _____.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.