The USG Corporation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have released their Q3 report on the state of the U.S. construction industry.
The main takeaway? Contractors are continuing to feel the squeeze of a tight labor market. And unfortunately, many believe the skilled labor shortage is having a negative impact on job site safety.
There are two main culprits driving contractors’ concerns about safety on construction sites.
1) Skilled labor shortage. More contractors report that an aging workforce, tightened construction schedules, and a lack of skilled workers are all negatively impacting site safety.
Aggressive scheduling forces contractors who can’t find enough skilled laborers to instead “make do” with less-experienced workers. It also causes firms to push laborers to work longer hours. These factors have contractors worried about compromises to safety processes.
Contractors report that they’re combatting these issues by improving the safety climate on individual job sites, and by promoting an overall culture of safety at their respective firms.
2) Substance abuse. A majority of contractors report at least “moderate” concern about substance abuse and how it might impact job site safety. The substances of greatest concern are opioids, marijuana, and alcohol.
Most large contracting firms have taken steps to reduce these risks. 80% have risk-reduction strategies in place for opioids, marijuana, and alcohol.
Unfortunately, small- to moderately-sized firms aren’t as necessarily as proactive as larger builders. Of the firms in this size category that expressed concern about job site substance abuse, less than two-thirds have a strategy in place to deal with the risks posed by marijuana and alcohol. And only half have a strategy for handling opioid abuse.
Safety isn’t the only issue that has contractors concerned. Material costs also have some builders on edge. Specifically, contractors are concerned about the price of steel and how it might fluctuate due to tariffs imposed on steel imports by the Trump administration.
The report does highlight some good news, though. While worker availability and material costs are a worry for some contractors, other market trends (like spending on equipment) remain positive.
Even better, confidence in the construction industry is remarkably high. 98% of contractors are confident they’ll see new business opportunities in the next twelve months.