There is widespread concern in the U.S construction industry that an impending shortage of skilled workers will have a significantly negative effect on job site safety.
According to the latest Q3 report from USG and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the anticipated labor shortage over the next three years will be the number one factor affecting safety in construction.
The report surveys contractors across the country each quarter in order to better understand their levels of confidence in the industry and top-of-mind concerns.
88 per cent of contractors are expecting to feel at least a moderate impact from the workforce shortages in the next three years and more than half (57 percent) are expecting the impact to be high/very high.
The skilled labor shortage has been consistently identified as a major issue facing the industry, but it is now reported by 80 percent of contractors to be impacting worker and job site safety. In fact, the Q3 report found that a lack of skilled workers was the number one factor impacting increased job site safety risks (58 percent).
USG CEO and president, Jennifer Scanlon, said that while the commercial construction industry was growing, the labor shortage remained unresolved.
“As contractors are forced to do more with less, a renewed emphasis on safety is imperative to the strength and health of the industry. It continues to be important for organizations to build strong and comprehensive safety programs.”
However as contractors grapple with a scarcity of skilled workers, findings do show a majority are working to improve the overall safety culture on their job sites (63 percent) and at their firm’s offices (58 percent).
Illicit and prescription drugs also a safety issue
In addition to the skilled labor shortage, the report found addiction and substance abuse issues are a factor in construction safety. Nearly 40 percent of contractors are highly concerned over the safety impacts of opioid use/addiction, followed by alcohol (27 percent) and marijuana (22 percent).
Notably, while opioids were their top substance of concern, only 50 per cent of contractors have strategies in place to address the issue. In contrast, 62 per cent have strategies in place to reduce the safety risks presented by alcohol, and 61 per cent for marijuana.