How to keep your insurance premiums and safety rates down


In today’s construction world, safety is at the top of everyone’s list. When going after new projects, clients demand a good safety record. A lot of clients will set a ceiling on how high your OSHA Recordable Rate and Experience Modification Rate (EMR) can be, just to allow you to bid on some projects. These numbers are based on incidents where employees get hurt and need more than first aid.

The OSHA Recordable rate looks at, in round numbers, how many recordable injuries happen per 100 workers over the course of a year. These workers will work around 2,000 hours or a total of 200,000 hours in a year. If your company works 200,000 hours and you have three recordable injuries, your OSHA Recordable Rate would be equal to 3.0. If you go back to 1972, the average rate was 11 and in 2018, the average rate was 3.

The EMR rate is a method used for calculating worker’s compensation insurance premiums. A comparison is made of your past claims history to those of similar companies in your industry. If you had a higher than normal rate of injuries in the past, it is reasonable to assume that your rate will continue to be higher. This rate stays with your company for three years. Essentially, if your EMR Rate is higher than 1.0, your premium will be higher. An EMR Rate of 1.2 would mean your premiums will be 20% higher than another company with a 1.0 rate. You can see how this can either be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on where your rate is.

In my experience, focusing on the numbers does not have much of an effect on the outcome. If we want to improve these numbers, we have to focus on our craft people. After all, they are the ones who have the biggest risk and are more likely to experience an injury. It is also the right thing to do to ensure our workers can go home safe every day. 

So how can we prevent injuries and get our rates to a level where it works to our advantage? Here’s my advice: I worked for one of the safest companies in the construction industry for 29 years. The thing that worked the best with their program was to get active engagement of the craft employees. The top down approach does not work and we found that out over the years. We could make up the best Hazard Analysis in the world, go out and read it to the crew and it just wasn’t working. When we got our crews to author their own Hazard Analysis, they got actively engaged and the numbers started coming down.

This is the genesis of the Iron Gate Safety System. Iron Gate creates a platform for engagement. It puts safety resources, training, inspections, and much more into the hands of the people doing the work.

When you sign up with Iron Gate, we customize a website branded with your logo. All of your employees have access to the website and all of the tools to help them improve their safety. Your safety forms, training, and documents are built into the system for easy access. All of this becomes available on an iPad app that works with or without cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. Iron Gate delivers a comprehensive structure that fosters engagement with powerful reports to help management identify training needs and qualification gaps.

Let Iron Gate help to keep your workers safe and get your rates below the industry average.