When Thinking Caps meet Hardhats…

Final left angle

I was speaking yesterday with a former national VP of Construction Risk Control at a major insurance carrier. His job was to lead the organization to an understanding of the losses, where they were coming from and to work with clients to mitigate them.


“Did you know that 50% of all jobsite injuries and deaths stem from employees with less than 30 days on that job?”


I didn’t know that.


A simple solution is to have all workers with less than 30 days experience wear different colored hardhats. You could look at the job and quickly identify those who are most likely to get killed.


That’s a good idea.” I said.

He knows it’s a good idea.

Rarely does he see it happen.


I pointed out the fact that Latinos are nearly 2x as likely to be injured or killed on the job due to language and cultural barriers. It’s a different data set, but surely an overlapping one.


Absolutely. If people were smart about getting to Zero [losses], the hardhats would not only identify the newbies, they would also indicate language preference. A green helmet for the “green” employees, a red stripe for Spanish speakers.


You can easily poke holes into this –  explain why this wouldn’t work.

– Increased overhead (no pun intended) costs.

– HR’s concern about “Profiling.”

– Yet another thing for over-worked managers to manage.



It’s always easy to rationalize ourselves into doing nothing.


But the status quo is expensive.

The construction industry collectively spends about $1B a week on losses.

A billions bucks each week….


That seems like a lot of money.” I say to the former Risk Control VP. “There ought to be plenty of incentive for the contractors and  insurance companies to try new things like the colored hardhats….


He nods.

It is a lot of moneyDon’t you worry though. The insurance companies make money on the losses too.


If you want to identify the soon-to-be-injured workers on your job, statistically it’s the new workers (first 30 days = 50% of injuries) whose first language is Spanish (Latinos are 2x as likely to be injured or killed).


Find them.

Communicate with them.

Avoid losing them.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.    

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Categories: Construction Spanish

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