Best In Class Definitions

6 Components of a Corrective Action

Construction sites contain various hazards ranging from the kind that can cause minor harm to workers, right up to their death. Some are obvious and easy to spot, while others are less so and require training to recognize. A hazard is usually identified and reported in one of three ways:

  1. By the Jobsite Foreman during a routine Hazard Analysis before starting work each day.
  2. By an individual worker who spots an unsafe situation while completing their specific task.
  3. By a Supervisor during a jobsite inspection.

Once a hazard is identified, it must be controlled appropriately, to keep workers safe from it. The most effective way to do that is through a corrective action.

What is a Corrective Action?

A corrective action is a six-step process designed to formally identify, control and document job site hazards. The components are:

1. Hazard Identification

Identification is the most crucial step in the entire process; without it, the hazard is left uncontrolled and your workers at risk. Failing to identify or neglecting to report a job site hazard is one of the root causes of injuries.

Workers require training to recognize hazards specific to their trade and their job site. Hazards change over time, as work continues, tools wear and other trades become involved. Their identification is an ongoing process and requires frequent consideration.

Additionally, upper levels of management need to be involved in the process, including foremen, supervisors and safety directors, in more formal capacities such as job site inspections.

2. Severity

Once a hazard is identified, it needs to be assigned a severity level, most commonly:

  • Low: small risk of occurrence resulting in minor injuries
  • Medium: occurrence is more likely, and injury could result in lost time
  • High: likely to occur and if so, would be a potentially life-threatening situation

Defining the level of severity for each hazard helps provide others with a proper sense of urgency. A high severity level should result in work stopping, at least the directly affected areas, until the hazard is controlled.

A low severity could wait until the next available worker can complete it, but there is less risk, so that is alright. Medium severity should be given more priority than low but doesn’t require a stop-work order.

3. Category

Although assigning a category isn’t vital to the corrective action process, it holds many long-term and bigger-picture benefits. Once you begin tracking categories, you will be able to analyze them to find patterns and trends. The most frequently cited categories will signal where your problem areas lie and allow you to focus your training where it is needed most.

To get started, you need to determine a list of categories your trade encounters and then label each corrective action with the most appropriate type. Some commonly used categories are:

  • Compressed Gas
  • Confined Space
  • Documentation
  • Electrical
  • Fall Protection
  • First Aid
  • Housekeeping
  • Hot Work / Fire Prevention
  • Ladders
  • Machines
  • PPE
  • Tools
  • Trenching
  • Vehicles

4. Recommended Control

The control is the action required to make the job site safe for your workers. The best control is eliminating the hazard entirely, but that is not always possible on a construction site. Therefore, a decision needs to be made as to the next highest level of protection.

We recommend using NIOSH’s Heircharcy of Controls (pictured below) to select the most feasible and effective option.

The selected control also needs to be very specific so that it is properly completed. For example, if there is an open hole in a floor, you need to say more than “protect the hole.” You could request a railing is built around it, or that it is covered with a piece of plywood and marked ‘Hole.’

These decisions should be made by someone with more safety training than a standard tradesperson, such as a foreman, supervisor or safety director.

5. Assigned to

In addition to being specific about the control, you also need to assign a particular person to action it. When the owner of the control is made clear, there is a much better chance it gets completed.

For example, when you say something such as “Somone, cover that hole,” it’s possible the crew will each assume someone else is doing it. You should also be clear with the person you assign that you expect them to do the work and not pass it on to someone else.

6. Follow Up

Every corrective action needs to be followed up on to ensure its completion. Sometimes this happens at a later time but it’s also possible soon after the hazard is identified.

For example, if the hole in the floor gets covered and marked before leaving the job site, you can update the status of the corrective action to ‘complete.’ However, if you opted for a railing and it won’t be complete until the end of the day, the status remains as ‘open’ until it is confirmed as complete.

The follow-up should always be done by someone in a leadership role, not the person assigned to complete it, so that it is verified as complete and correct.

How to Use Corrective Actions Effectively

When hazards are managed proactively, through formal corrective actions, the number of work-related injuries and illnesses is drastically reduced. However, it will take the efforts of your entire construction team to be successful at this.

Everyone will need to do their part, and that means from the top of the company down. If your company culture is to prioritize production over safety, this program simply will not work.

In order to increase your chances of success when using corrective actions, we suggest you implement the ideas in this article: Top 5 Ways to Foster a Safety Culture in Your Construction Business

Definitions How to...

What is a Near Miss Report & Why They are Important to Construction Safety

Ask any contractor to tell you about a close call they had on the job site and get ready for what is likely a very good story, and there are probably a few of them!

I’ll never forget back when I worked in the office at a roofing company and one of my repair guys called me to say he had just put his foot through a rotten spot in the roof.

He was calling me not to report the near miss but because he was stuck. He needed me to send someone to go in the attic and pull his boot off so he could pull his leg out without getting stabbed by the plywood shards.

When the ‘rescue team’ went in, they could see from the attic the extent of the rot. Had he taken one step further, he probably would have fallen right through.

What is a Near Miss?

By now, you’ve probably figured out that a near miss is anytime something happens on your job site that comes very close to causing harm to a person or property.

You can also consider an occurrence as a near miss if it would have caused harm if someone had been in the vicinity. For example, if someone drops a hammer off the second story of a building, it doesn’t have to come close to hitting someone to be considered a near miss.

Some other examples of near misses are:

  • Someone trips on an extension cord but doesn’t harm themselves
  • A forklift bumps a skid of material, it teeters but does not fall
  • An extension ladder tips over, narrowly missing a parked truck

The only difference between these occurrences and an actual accident is luck. Had the extension cord been next to a stairwell, the forklift been moving a bit faster or the truck was parked differently, the outcomes could have been disastrous.

What to do When a Near Miss Occurs

In short, when a near miss occurs, treat it like it was an accident.

Every near miss should trigger an investigation into what went wrong, determining all the contributing factors. Then changes need to be implemented in order to prevent a future accident.

When I treated that roofing near miss as an accident, I was able to launch a full review of our repair process. We ended up changing it to start with an interior attic inspection in order to spot any major rot prior to going on the roof. We also made the crews a minimum of two workers each so someone would be on site to help in the event of an emergency.

In order for the near miss process to work, your crews need to know they are responsible for reporting them when they happen. Had my repair guy not gotten stuck in the roof, I probably wouldn’t have found out about it because there was no injury to report and we didn’t have a near miss program.

Also, there must be no fear of repercussion when reporting a near miss. You absolutely cannot ask someone to report one and then reprimand the error, especially if it was human error.

A near miss must be looked at as a learning opportunity that will protect the future safety of all your employees.

What are the Benefits of Implementing a Near Miss Program?

Handling incidents as a near miss rather than waiting for the inevitable accident to occur means your job sites are safer. Safer job sites are first and foremost important to your employees but they also save your company money.

Basically, you are getting all the changes and modifications that follow an accident, to improve the safety at your company, without having to report an actual incident.

Lowering the number of reportable incidents means your experience modification rating (EMR) will go down, and that in turn will lower your workers compensation and insurance premiums!

How Harness Makes Near Miss Reporting a Breeze

You should already be convinced that tracking, investigating, and following up on every single near miss at your company makes logical sense and will reduce your workload down the line. But you are probably wondering where you will find the time to do that.

Utilizing a safety management system like Harness is probably your best solution. Every Harness client receives a custom-built incident reporting and follow up form, making it easy for:

  • Your foremen to fill out a quick form about what happened, capturing all the relevant info and even pictures
  • You to be immediately notified of the near miss
  • You or a supervisor to complete an investigation on contributing factors
  • Management to review graphs and trends involved
  • Positive changes to be implemented

To see a video of our Near Miss Report in action, Click the Image below:



What is a Job Site Hazard Assessment (Definition & Usage)

It’s clear you want to learn more about JHA’s, and that’s likely because you care about safety. Your company probably has good intentions when it comes to keeping your workers safe, in fact; I bet you are already doing something such as Toolbox Talks.

You know you should be doing more, but you aren’t quite sure what that looks like because you don’t have a safety background. You also aren’t quite ready to hire a dedicated safety professional, and that’s all okay.

You aren’t the first contractor to feel lost in the safety abyss, and you don’t have to do it alone. There is no need to reinvent the wheel because we are about to hand you the keys to the whole car.

What is a Job Site Hazard Assessment?

A Job Site Hazard Assessment, commonly referred to as a JHA, is a report that a foreman completes with their crew on the job site every morning before work starts. It is designed to focus the crew’s attention on safety and to take PREVENTATIVE MEASURES to ensure incidents don’t occur.

3 Components of a Job Site Hazard Assessment

Other than collecting the location details at the start and signatures at the end, here are the three main parts of a JHA:

1. The Tasks

  • Workers identify what they will be doing specifically that day
  • Examples: load material, demolition, install product, etc.

2. The Hazards

  • Based on the tasks for the day, create a list of potential hazards
  • Examples: climbing ladders, working at heights, working with an open flame, extreme hot / cold weather, large machines, etc

3. The Controls

  • For every hazard listed, determine what controls will be used to eliminate, contain or reduce each hazard.
  • Examples: secure ladders, use personal fall arrest systems, wear personal protective equipment, take breaks to warm up / cool down, only trained employees operating machines etc.

My Guys Don’t Have the Knowledge to Fill Out A JHA

My job at Harness is to take the paper forms that contractors are currently using, and turn them into an electronic version. That means I’ve seen thousands of versions of this form, and I know what works and what doesn’t.

The main issue with a JHA is how they are filled out, and typically that is not very well. Most crews are able to list tasks and hazards, as they generally know what parts of their job are potentially dangerous.

The problem arises when they aren’t knowledgeable enough to fill in the control section. We don’t blame them for this, they are construction experts, not safety reps. So this section tends to contain guesses, or worse, is left blank, leaving your workers with inaccurate and incomplete safety plans.

Cue the downward spiral; the less they know, the less effort they put into it, the less the exercise is useful, until eventually it just isn’t done at all and you are right back here looking for help.

The Solution

This is why we created our own electronic JHA that automatically populates potential controls for each hazard selected. When your workers say they are using a ladder, they are provided with 4 or 5 ways to ensure they set up and use the ladder safely, all they have to do is check the boxes to create the plan, and then follow it.

Filling it out is easy and your crews will consider it a useful resource, which means they will actually do it. Our JHA is more than a form, it’s a teaching tool that makes your job site safer, and provides your company with the documentation you need if there ever was an incident.

If your crews are knowledgeable enough to try out the paper form first, you can download it below. If you’d rather see our JHA in action, book demo.

Regardless of the process you choose, you are on the right track because a JHA a day, helps keep incidents away!


What is a Toolbox Talk? (A 2-Part Safety Meeting)


Once upon a time, I was the co-owner / operator of a small family roofing company. We cared about the safety of our guys, many of them were friends and relatives, and we enforced safety practices on our job sites, but we didn’t have formal safety meetings, and we definitely didn’t document anything safety related.

Then, one cool dewy morning, our foreman climbed up a steep cedar roof to install an anchor so that he and the rest of the crew could safely tie off. But he never made it to the peak. He slipped and fell two stories, landing on his back in the asphalt driveway.

It was a miracle that he didn’t die. He ended up with a broken back and a very long and painful road to recovery.

Meanwhile, our company was suddenly thrust into a major investigation by what felt like every government agency around. Then there were the lawyers. So. Many. Lawyers.

We were asked to produce our written Safety Policy and Program. We had nothing.

We were asked to produce safety meetings documenting our foreman’s training. Again, nothing.

What followed was a very quick learning curve of what we were obligated to be doing for safety, and at the top of that list was a weekly Toolbox Talk.

What is a Toolbox Talk?

A toolbox talk (also known as a Safety Meeting or TBT) is a two-part process that provides your workers with training and reduces your companies liability if there is ever an incident. The topics are different each week and involve tasks the workers complete regularly or equipment / tools they use.

Some examples of topics may be: setting up ladders, floor and roof openings, hard hats, lifting techniques, nail guns, propane, etc.

2 Components of a Toolbox Talk:


1. The Talk

  • The safety talk itself is 2-3 paragraphs of safety information about a specific topic, written by a vetted safety provider
  • The talk is usually completed onsite where it is most relevant to the worker, near the equipment / tools (hence the name toolbox talk)
  • The best TBT’s include pictures, a demonstration, and a Spanish translation
  • You can find many TBT’s for free online and from professional trade associations

2. The Record

  • If you don’t record the fact that the talk happened, in the eyes of the law and OSHA, it never did.
  • Record the date, location, and topic of the TBT
  • Have every member that attended (including yourself) sign and print their name on the record
  • Attach the talk (including the Spanish version) to the record and save it at the office for at least 7 years

My Guys Will Never Participate in a Toolbox Talk

That’s what I thought too. And I wasn’t wrong. Construction workers hate paperwork. Every minute they spend on paperwork is a minute they aren’t making money.

I know from experience that you will have to hound them to host safety meetings and get the records back to you.

When they do hand them in, they are wrinkled, ripped, and covered with coffee stains from being stuffed between the seats of the truck for a week. You’ll smooth out the paper only to find there is something missing or you can’t read someone’s chicken scratch of a signature. You then have to spend time chasing them down, and every minute you spend doing that is a minute you aren’t making money.

So What’s the Solution?

You need to start doing toolbox talks right away. They are the base for every safety program ever designed and trust me when I say, you do not want to be caught empty handed. My company faced fines, lawsuits and even an increase in our insurance rates, never mind the fact that our best foreman was out of commission.

Thanks to the National Roofing Contractors Association, we have provided you with your first toolbox talk on ladder safety so you can help avoid the most common fatality in construction, a fall. With it, you will find a form we built for you to record the safety meeting every week. This way you can get started today. Then all you need to do is source the information for your talk each week, record it and save it. Or, you can sign up for a FREE Harness account and we will do the leg work for you.

  • The Harness Safety App provides you with your own library of safety talks, with photos, demonstrations and Spanish translations, available on any device
  • Harness captures all the data you are legally required to track using required fields, so nothing is forgotten and everything is legible
  • Harness saves the talk immediately, making it easy to store and find later
  • Most importantly, Harness is quick and EASY TO USE, which increases the chances that your crews will actually do it

Want to get started now? Download our Free Toolbox Talk Form below.
Want to skip paper and go right to the app? Book a demo here.

Already mastered the TBT? Try out a Job Site Hazard Assessment.

Cost & Pricing Definitions Leadership & Culture Most Popular Safety Best Practice

Your Ultimate Guide To Experience Modification Ratings (EMR)

After labor and materials, insurance is the third highest cost for a construction company.  That’s why it’s important to understand — and monitor — your experience modification rating (EMR).   EMR has a direct correlation to how much you pay in Workers’ Compensation Premiums. The lower your EMR, the less you pay in premiums.

But to be able to use your EMR to effectively control costs, you must first understand how it works.

What is an EMR?

In a nutshell, your EMR compares your workers’ compensation claims experience to other employers of similar size operating in the same type of business.

It’s the method for tailoring the cost of insurance to the characteristics of a specific business, but it also gives that business the opportunity to manage its own costs through measurable cost-saving programs.

How is EMR Calculated?

The actual process of calculating the EMR is sometimes complex, but the purpose of the formula is pretty straightforward. Here’s how it works: your company’s actual losses are compared to its expected losses by industry type. Factors taken into consideration are company size, unexpected large losses and the difference between loss frequency and loss severity.

EMR usually takes into account three years of claims history, excluding the most recent policy year. For example, the EMR for a policy period beginning January 1, 2018, includes claim costs for the policy periods beginning:

  • January 1, 2014
  • January 1, 2015
  • January 1, 2016

Who Gets Assigned an EMR?

Not every business is large enough to have an EMR.  Your workers’ compensation premium has to be above a certain dollar threshold specified by your state before your organization will be assigned an EMR. This minimum premium amount is usually around $3,000-$7,000.

What are EMR Classifications?

A workers compensation classification represents a group of employers that conduct similar types of businesses.  Classifications are usually represented by four-digit codes.   Examples of classifications are Roofing (5150) and Plumbing (5183).  All employers assigned to the same classification pay an identical rate (if they are located in the same state).

Classification systems are based on the idea that workers employed by similar businesses are prone to similar types of injuries. For example, employees who install roofs are subject to injuries caused by falls, burns, sun exposure, and lifting heavy objects. The types of injuries these workers sustain are relatively consistent from one roofer to another. Thus, all employers whose business consists of roofing installation are assigned to the same workers compensation classification.

Who Calculates Your EMR?

Your EMR is calculated by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) or in some states, by an independent agency.

When the NCCI or a state bureau issues an experience modifier, the agency provides an experience rating worksheet. The worksheet shows how your modifier was calculated. It lists the relevant class codes and applicable payrolls, claim numbers and losses used in the calculations. Note that if you have incurred a large loss, only a portion of that loss is typically included in the calculation of your modifier. If you have incurred several small losses, all of those losses might be included in the calculation.

Pro Tip: Your modifier is generally more adversely affected if you have incurred numerous small losses rather than one large one.

How Does My EMR Affect my Premiums?

Your EMR represents either a credit or debit that’s applied to your workers’ compensation premium. An EMR of 1.0 is considered to be the industry average. While an EMR of more than 1.0 is a Debit Mod, which means your losses are worse than expected and a surcharge will be added to your premium. An EMR under 1.0 is a Credit Mod, which means losses are better than expected, resulting in a premium discount.

Here’s an example of how this works:



Modified Premium










As you can see, an EMR of 1.25 would mean that insurance premiums could be as high as 25% more than a company with an EMR of 1.0.

How Can You Achieve & Maintain a Low EMR?

Of course, this is the question every business owner wants to know the answer to. So here is a list of things you can do to be more proactive when it comes to lowering your EMR:

  • Contact your insurance agent or review your policy documents to verify your current EMR is accurate. You might be paying more (or less) than you should due to incorrect or incomplete data.
  • Remember that EMR is influenced more by small, frequent losses than by large, infrequent ones. So the fewer losses you have, the better.
  • Create a strong, well-documented safety program that incorporates best practices such as toolbox talks, daily safety analysis, frequent site inspections, and safety training.
  • Use analytics to determine ways you can be proactive about injury prevention.
  • Also create or improve an effective return to work program to help lower your EMR.
  • Make sure that all injuries are reported promptly. Studies reveal that prompt injury reporting reduces the cost of claims.
  • Implement an active claims management program to manage outstanding reserves and focus on efficiently resolving open claims.
  • Train front-line supervisors and managers how to manage injured employees. Supervisors play a key role in managing the injury and recovery process. When there’s a good relationship between the injured employee and the supervisor, chances are you’ll get better results.
  • Practice due diligence during the hiring process. Hiring an employee who is not fit for the essential functions of the job will increase the risk of an injury. Of course, you’ll want to take the appropriate, and legal, steps in your “screening” process.

Harness Can Help Your Company Lower Your EMR & Save Money

If you want a stronger health and safety program with better documentation and more efficient workflows, Harness is your answer.