No Skimping on Safety

When hiring a contractor, most building owners (particularly homeowners) gravitate to the lowest bid in order to save money. Unfortunately, by seeking the lowest price they frequently wind up with contractors who cut corners. As a licensed contractor for over 18 years, I can tell you that the first corner to be cut by many contractors is safety.

I don't think a contractor who is unconcerned about employee safety can possibly have his or her client's best interests in mind, no matter how persuasive the sales pitch.

Employees are the heart and soul of TRP. Without them we would have no services to market, no salvaged materials, no tax benefits to offer donors and no customers at our warehouses.

It used to be that when business owners closed their doors and went home at night they locked up their assets (machinery, equipment, inventory). In today's world, most companies' biggest assets also go home at night – and they may not return. For a company to prosper, employees need to show up the next morning healthy, happy and productive.

When discussions of safety occur on construction/deconstruction sites, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations are often mentioned. Contractors sometimes blame OSHA for practices and procedures they would rather not have to follow. There's a tendency to use OSHA regulations to set maximum standards, whereas TRP considers them minimum standards. Contractors ask, "What's the least we can do to be in compliance with the law?" when they should ask, "What do we need to do to ensure that our workers stay healthy, motivated and productive?"

It's not surprising that most jobsite injuries involve new workers. That's one of the reasons TRP pairs new employees with its most experienced workers and initially assigns them less hazardous tasks, even if they appear to be highly skilled. This approach allows us to indoctrinate new workers in our procedures and determine how safety conscious they are in their work.

OSHA regulations call for a safety meeting every other week for the duration of a job, whereas TRP crews attend safety meetings on the first day of each project and every Monday morning thereafter. Attendance is required, and workers must sign a sheet listing the safety procedures discussed during the meeting. Leadership of the meetings rotates among the workers so everyone has a turn communicating safety concerns.

TRP reviews its safety topics and Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIP) annually and updates them as necessary.

Laws and requirements pertaining to insurance, including worker's compensation insurance, vary from state to state. Some states and municipalities allow exclusions for such things as one-person businesses, employed family members and certain kinds of partnerships. I would recommend not hiring an uninsured company, even if the owner claims a legal exclusion. My reason is simple. If a worker is injured, you, the building owner, might easily become the target of a lawsuit. Workers compensation insurance automatically removes you from harm's way should an employee of your contractor be injured.

In California anyone can go on the Contractors State License Board ( and check on the type of insurance a contractor carries. Contractors who are not listed are not licensed and should not be hired in the first place.

In summary:

If you are a building owner, you should ...

  • Think SafetyMake sure your contractor is licensed.
  • Insist that the contractor carry workers compensation insurance.
  • Obtain a certificate of the contractor's policy from the insurance underwriter.
  • Ask about the contractor's prior insurance claims.

If you are a contractor, you should ...

  • Carefully analyze all job-related injuries to identify safety issues that need greater emphasis.
  • Do your employees and yourself a favor and write a safety manual.
  • Hold frequent jobsite safety meetings.

Special Events Reminders
August 20-22: Community Action National Convention, New York. TRP will have a booth.

November 13: C&D Waste Recycling Workshop. Join TRP and WasteCap at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Francisco for a day-long course on Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling. Participants will leave as WasteCap accredited professionals with the skills necessary to develop, promote, manage and monitor successful recycling programs. This course is also eligible for 7.5 CEU credits through the USGBC for LEED Green Associates and APs. For more information, visit

November 14-16: San Francisco Green Build Show. TRP will have a booth. Complimentary tickets to this event will be available from TRP on a first come first served basis.

The 2012 National Reuse Contest
This year's contest will end on August 31, 2012. Submit your entries ASAP. (David: Add a link to contest and participating store pages.)

Employment Opportunity
TRP is seeking a versatile individual for the position of Deconstruction and Safety Supervisor. Primary responsibilities include the marketing and sales of TRP deconstruction services in the Bay Area, and the development and implementation of safety policies for deconstruction, warehouse and administrative employees. This "utility player" will assume numerous additional roles as needed within the organization. The ideal candidate will be bilingual (English/Spanish), adept in the use of Microsoft Office, knowledgeable concerning residential construction, and skilled in oral/written communication and sales/marketing techniques. Compensation is a combination of base salary plus incentive. TRP offers health care, the usual holidays and vacations, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) program, and an outstanding work environment.

New Inventory

The Oakland warehouse has a fresh shipment of bricks for both patio and chimney. Upgrade your outdoor living areas for cents on the dollar.



At the Los Angeles (Pacoima) warehouse we have a stainless/glass 1920s wall sconce, gray slate roofing tiles, several small skylights, and a leg-mounted deep sink, perfect for garage or laundry.

  New inventory at partnering warehouses:




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