Document Detail

Title: SD-38 - Subcontractor Safety as Influenced by General Contractors on Small- and Medium-Sized Projects
Publication Date: 10/1/1988
Product Type: Source Document
Status: Archived Reference
Pages: 76
This publication has been archived, but is available for download for informational purposes only.

Hinze, Figone, Univ. of Washington
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This source document is one of two reports that present the findings on research conducted on subcontractor safety. This report presents information related to the study of subcontractor safety on small- to medium-sized projects. Results show that subcontractor safety is influenced differently by general contractors on the small- to medium-sized projects than on large projects. Reference is to be made to the companion source document for information about subcontractor safety on large projects.

One of the findings revealed that subcontractor safety is associated with project size. That is, subcontractor safety performances are better on smaller projects. This finding was assumed to be associated with the degree of coordination that is required on the larger projects. Smaller projects tend to be simpler, cover a smaller area, and in general are easier to control. An associated finding was that better safety performances were associated with projects with fewer subcontractors. The degree of coordination effort required on a project with many subcontractors is obviously going to drain more of the available resources of the general contractor. Additionally, it was found that safer subcontractor performances are realized when the general contractor has a policy of contracting with selected or known subcontractors. Working with subcontractors who are already familiar with company policies and practices will clearly simplify coordination efforts.

Subcontractor safety is also influenced by the general contractor’s emphasis on safety, i.e., emphasizing profits without regard for safety can have an adverse impact on subcontractor safety performance. This emphasis on safety must originate with top management and can be communicated to the projects in written communications, during telephone conversations with project personnel, and during site visits.

Although not as strong as previous findings, the research showed that project-level personnel of the general contractor should be people oriented. They should recognize that workers and subcontractors have individualized and human needs that are not to be ignored. They must be sensitive to these needs. For example, this individualized concern can be effectively demonstrated with new workers that are assigned to the project.

The last finding of the study showed that the physical environment at the project level is to be maintained free of known hazards. One such effective means is to insure that major injuries are minimized by covering all floor openings and maintaining handrails at all appropriate locations. The general safety of the job site can also be effectively maintained by periodically inspecting the project for physical hazards. It is important that the work areas controlled by subcontractors also be included in this site inspection.