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10 Safety Tips for General Contractors

Sep 24, 2018

10 Safety Tips for General Contractors

Being a general contractor is a potentially lucrative business for those with the right know-how and industry experience in construction. Operating a small business as a general contractor affords individuals the ability to manage their own workflow, scheduling, and income based on the projects they take on in either residential or commercial markets. However, general contractors have some of the most dangerous jobs among small business owners because of the nature of construction sites large or small. To ensure you are staying as safe as possible as a licensed general contractor, here are the top ten safety tips to follow.

1 – Maneuvering In and Out of Equipment

One of the most common culprits of construction site injury takes place when operators get in or out of a piece of equipment. This could happen for a variety of reasons, but as a general contractor, encourage workers to take the following steps to ensure higher safety around equipment:

  • Look over gloves and footwear for mud or other substances that may be slippery and cause a fall

  • Be sure to have a solid foot or hand hold before getting in or out of equipment

  • Use a ladder when needed

  • Ask for help if necessary

  • Avoid a quick entrance or exit to prevent falls

These simple steps can make a world of difference in worker safety on the job.

2 – Protective Gear

Another simple way to ensure safety on the job is to require workers to wear appropriate protective gear at all times. Protective gear may include back braces, eyewear, gloves, steel-toed boots, and helmets, depending on the type of job site. As a general contractor, you should encourage workers to check the condition of their protective gear before starting work, in addition to requiring it to be worn at all times.

3 – Loading and Unloading Equipment

General contractors can also boost the safety of their projects through the safe loading and unloading of equipment and materials. Some subcontractors and other works may not be aware of the high probability of equipment rolling over, potentially injuring someone on the job. The same may be said about material being loaded or unloaded from a truck or pallet. General contractors can encourage workers to have a second set of eyes on deck when loading and unloading equipment, and set general guidelines for how to do so safely each time.

4 – Ladder Safety

One obvious but often overlooked potential hazard on a construction site is the inappropriate use of ladders. Workers who frequently climb up and down ladders or stairs each day may not think to inspect them for issues, but general contractors should encourage this practice on each job site. A safe ladder or staircase is one that is free from clutter, dirt and debris, and is dry. Guardrails, spotters, toe boards, and warning lines should all be in place when necessary to keep workers safe.

5 – Crowded Work Areas

It is common for construction sites to be crowded, with suppliers, subcontractors, general contractors and the like on-site at any given time. While all these working bodies are necessary, a crowded site can be a dangerous place. General contractors can reduce the potential for accidents due to crowding by putting guidelines in place from the start. For example, requiring that individuals not involved in operating large equipment remove themselves from the area while that equipment is in use is one surefire way to reduce crowding hazards.

6 – Potential Hazard Awareness

General contractors can improve the safety of their projects by being aware of potential hazards in the first place. This requires showing up to the job site before subcontractors, vendors, or other workers arrive, and evaluating what areas may present issues over time. These areas should be documented and then safeguards put in place to ensure the safety of all workers.

7 – Equipment Maintenance

Another common reason for injury at a construction job site is malfunctioning equipment. When the tools necessary to complete a job safely are not in working order, subcontractors are put in harm’s way. As a general contractor, it is your responsibility to ensure all equipment and tools are maintained, clean, and in proper condition before allowing any work to be completed on site.

8 – Worker Training

It is common for contractors working in the construction business to gain experience through hands-on work. However, general contractors need to be proactive in worker training initiatives to ensure all subcontractors are up to date with industry best practices. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers several resources in print and online that can help general contractors maintain a training schedule for their workers.

9 – Communication on Site

While not all general contractors are on the job site each day, it is necessary to maintain a level of communication among all parties involved in a project. Strong communication about safety issues and hazards, training, and guidelines for protective gear or equipment operation is a must. This may take place with a debriefing each morning, either via e-mail or in-person, or through mobile device communication throughout each day with subcontractors, vendors, and general contractors. The key is delivering fast, efficient, and accurate communication to all relevant parties on the job.

10 – Experienced Contractors

Finally, general contractors can help ensure safety on projects by employing experienced, licensed, and bonded contractors and subcontractors. Becoming a licensed contractor takes some time and effort, and generally involves some industry experience and education throughout the process. General contractors should take care to ask about experience and licensing before allowing any subcontractor to perform work on their job site.


Following these safety tips as a general contractor lays the groundwork for running a successful small business in construction.

Meet The Author:


Eric Weisbrot

Eric Weisbrot

Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.
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