An outstanding safety program protects not only workers but alsothe profit margins and the reputations of the general contractorand the owners and developers they serve. Having an excellentinternal safety program is not enough; the subcontractors who areso vital to the safe, efficient completion of the work must alsofully understand the requirements, the expectations and the law inorder for the work to be completed on time, on budget and with zeroinjuries.

As profit margins are squeezed and allowances for generalconditions are all but eliminated, many general contractors arelooking for ways to save on overhead in order to gain the financialadvantage that will secure them the bid. Unfortunately, many lookat the safety department, if they have one, as a convenient placeto cut. This not only shortchanges the safety on the job site andthe safety of the workers, but may lead to losses far in excess ofthe payroll cost of a safety department.

Such general contractors may base the decision to cut on safetyexpenses on their internal losses, which may be minimal due to themanagement nature of most general contracting jobs. What they failto consider, however, is how a lack of safety diligence on the partof subcontractors may lead to expensive legal costs, such as thedefense of lawsuits filed by subcontractor employees or third-partyliability claims from tenants or members of the general public, aswell as bad public relations for the general contractor and owner.The general contractor who fails to realize that the company's goodname rests on the ability and safety record of its subcontractorsis a general contractor who is waiting to fail.

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