Examining safety and quality

The benefits of performing work safely are obvious. No one needs to explain why returning home free from sickness and injury at the end of each workday is better than the alternative. Less often discussed is the impact the safety of workers can have on the quality of the job being performed.

Contractors cutting corners to offer rock-bottom bids may not realize or care that worker safety is directly related to the quality of work performed. In fact, safety and quality are intricately connected. Skimping on the equipment, technologies and best practices that keep workers safe will almost undoubtedly be reflected in the finished product.

The illusion of savings

Imagine a scenario. You’re a facility manager in charge of contracting out the painting portion of a massive job your company is in the middle of. You come across a bid that’s 25 percent lower than the original estimate of the job’s cost. Without investigating further, you award the contract.

It turns out the industrial painting contractor you’ve hired is used to working on private sector buildings and yours is a large infrastructure project involving a significant need for fall protection. This is causing unexpected delays. Additionally, the contractor is filing change order after change order, and the project’s costs continue to rise.

Lost-time accidents, injuries to a firm’s reputation from missed deadlines, potential lawsuits from unscrupulous contractors are all hidden dangers when bidding on price alone. The costs associated with a cheap, inexperienced painter can add up quickly, far outstripping the original savings of the contract.

Looking beyond the low bid

Fortunately, there are some surefire ways, beyond simple intuition, to determine whether a contractor or subcontractor’s bid is too good to be true. We’ve written before on the importance of asking the right questions concerning an industrial painter’s safety program before making a hire. Checking up on numbers like experience modifier and incident rates will give an owner an idea of how well a safety program performs. Looking at the amount of certifications a contractor has accrued will also give one an idea of how focused they are on improvement.

In our next few posts, we’ll continue to examine the ways in which safety is linked to quality. We’ll consider the effectiveness (and costs) of different strategies of minimizing risks, how limited access to areas on the job-site can compromise worker safety and the thoroughness of the work, as well as other factors such as equipment selection, inaccurate initial assessments, and more. Stay tuned.

The link between worker safety and a job well done. Download the Thomas guide to safety and quality.

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