Layoffs during the recession have resulted in a shortage of qualified workers in specialized areas of construction – and the problem will probably get worse as the industry picks up during the recovery. In this environment, some contractors might be tempted to stretch their hiring standards to fill out a project roster, increasing the danger of losses from on-site injuries and defect claims, among other risks.
The past two years have seen a sharp drop in the unemployment rate for former construction workers, but not a corresponding increase in construction industry growth. This means that these workers who have been unemployed are often finding other types of work, becoming full-time students, or have given up looking for a job in the building trades industry.
Because each construction company works in a unique environment and culture, a worker from one firm going to another might not have the required expertise. What’s more, construction is a profession that takes time to learn. Tight profit margins and financial problems can pressure smaller and midsize contractors into cutting corners by hiring inexperienced workers. This increases the risk of on-site accidents and injuries –and leads to poorer quality work that can easily result in costly and annoying defective construction claims (see the article “Construction Managers E&O Insurance: Nobody’s Perfect! ”
In addition as the building industry comes out of the recession, OSHA has become far more aggressive and vigilant in monitoring worker safety.
The bottom line: Avoid the temptation of hiring inexperienced workers as a way to save money, and you’ll keep your risk of on-site accidents and injuries – not to mention your insurance premiums – under control. What’s not to like?