In 2020, the top three most cited OSHA violations were fall protection violations, lack of Hazard Communication (Chemical Safety) training, and scaffolding violations. These three also are heavily related to the construction industry and show a need to use prevention as a strategy for avoiding OSHA violations and penalties.
On a construction site, things are constantly moving at a rapid pace, and it seems the job is constantly behind schedule and over budget. However, by simply making the time to address the safety of the job site prior to being cited by OSHA, or having an on-site accident occur, construction superintendents can save time, money, and keep their employees by proactively addressing these simple items:
Employees are not hired knowing the rules and regulations of the job-site. They need to be trained in the proper manner of being safe on the site and trained what to do in the event of an accident. Even if the employee has ten years of work experience on other construction jobs that doesn’t guarantee that their safety training is going to be up to the standards that you hold employees to. Instead of leaving it to chance, be sure to train all employees in all matters of safety before they ever put a hardhat on to start work for the day.
In addition to instructing your employees, take the time to listen to any safety concerns that they may have on the site. If an employee voices a legitimate safety issue, it needs to be addressed immediately by the on-site safety coordinator. No employee should be made to perform a task in an unsafe manner, regardless of the circumstances. Make sure that your employees feel comfortable coming to you or to the on-site safety coordinator to voice any safety concerns that they may have.
Regularly Maintain Your Equipment
When an accident occurs on the job site, OSHA is going to request the maintenance records for your equipment. If you cannot produce these records, or if they are out of date, that’s going to result in big problems during their investigation of the accident. With an automated maintenance platform, like a CMMS, you can keep an eye on the equipment maintenance records, and be certain that every piece of equipment on site is up to spec at all times.
Of course, if you’re still handling equipment maintenance with paper logs, it’s just as important to be certain that none of the equipment on site poses a safety danger to anyone. No matter how you handle your maintenance records and certifications, it is imperative that all of the records be current and all of the equipment be up to manufacturers specification in the event of an on-site accident.
Maintaining your equipment isn’t just for motorized or heavy equipment on the site. It also extends to items like safety harnesses, lifelines, and scaffolding equipment. If any of the safety equipment is in need of repair, it needs to immediately be removed from service until an authorized repair or replacement can be made.
Never allow employees to use damaged safety equipment, not even for a brief period of time. Instruct your employees to immediately take damaged safety items out of service and notify the on site safety coordinator of the problem. Never allow employees to perform a task without the proper safety equipment because it is damaged. Instruct all on site employees that the task will have to wait until the safety equipment is repaired or replaced.
Provide And Instruct On PPE
When you provide personal protective equipment to your employees, there is no excuse for it not to be correctly worn the entire time the employee is on site. This includes the proper use of the personal protective equipment, such as eye goggles, gloves, hardhats, and hearing protection. All of these PPE items can prevent injuries on the job, and keep everyone working in a safe manner.
Scaffolding and fall protection need to be addressed early and often on construction sites. Falls are still the number one cause of death on construction sites, and it often is due to improper use of safety equipment, or a lack of safety equipment that contributes to the fall. Safety harnesses, carabiners, lineman belts, and lifelines need to be regularly inspected for damage or wear, and should be removed from service if they are discovered to have any damage whatsoever. Your employees life depends on their fall protection being in top notch shape in the event that a fall should occur.
Ask your employees to come to you if they see unsafe work conditions arise, or if they see other site employees working without their proper PPE. It’s better to address the issue early with an employee than risk having an accident occur that will land you in trouble with OSHA, or result in a workmans compensation claim.
Author Bio: Talmage Wagstaff
Talmage Wagstaff: Co-Founder and CEO of REDLIST. Raised in a construction environment, Talmage has been involved in heavy equipment since he was a toddler. He has degrees and extensive experience in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering. Talmage worked for several years as a field engineer with ExxonMobil servicing many of the largest industrial production facilities in the Country.