As I post this I am watching the house next door be built. The gutters are going up and the guy on the ladder is “hopping” it from one location to another. Not exactly a safe practice. I hope you do better. Here is a great post from my friends at SocialMonsters.com to provide you some guidance.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined New Jersey contractor DH Construction LLC $191,215 for multiple scaffolding violations this October, Construction Dive reports. The company was found to have allowed employees to use scaffolding that wasn’t properly secured or cross-braced and lacked adequate planks on the floor or protection from falling objects. Some scaffolding was also found to be built too closely adjacent to power lines. OSHA cited DH Construction with eight repeat violations and two serious violations. Another company owned by the same owner had previously been charged with similar violations in 2014.
Scaffolding violations like this were the third most common type of OSHA infraction this year, with 3,288 citations, coming in behind fall protection with 6,072 violations and hazard communication at 4,176, says Pro Tools Reviews. As the case of DH Construction illustrates, these types of oversights can be costly to your business as well as dangerous to your workers. Here are five steps you can take to make sure you remain OSHA compliant.
1. Find Out Which Requirements Apply to You
In order to prevent all possible causes of workplace injury, OSHA’s compliance requirements are systematic and detailed, which can feel a bit overwhelming. To help you navigate through the various regulatory requirements, OSHA’s website includes a Compliance Assistance Quickstart Guide along with other tools to assist employers, including cooperative programs for employers who need additional help.
The first step towards becoming compliant is determining which regulations apply to your business. All employers must follow certain regulations to protect employees. These include keeping floors and working surfaces in safe condition, containing hazardous chemicals, following fire safety regulations, maintaining accessible exit routes, creating an emergency hazard response plan, and ensuring that appropriate first aid and medical equipment are on hand. There are also specific requirements that apply to companies whose employees work under exceptional conditions, such as requiring protective equipment or respirators, facing exposure to excessive noise, dealing with electrical hazards or operating machinery.
There may be other safety considerations that apply to your industry and the type of materials and equipment your employees use. In this case, industry-specific reference sources may be able to help you. For example, o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber provides an online guide with important details about temperature and chemical tolerance of different types of rubber, which can affect workplace safety for parts used in equipment; industrial supply company Grainger provides a guide to electrical safety standards in the workplace; and Safety Services Company offers industry-specific custom safety guides.
2. Schedule Regular Inspections
The next step is to schedule regular inspections to make sure your workplace is in compliance with applicable regulations. Your inspection should cover all the areas included in OSHA’s general and specialized regulations, as well as covering safety postings, safety and health programs, recordkeeping and other compliance areas.
To make sure your inspection covers all the bases, use a comprehensive checklist. OSHA provides an online hazard awareness advisor tool and a handbook you can use. You can also get OSHA to assist you with your inspection through the agency’s cooperative programs.
3. Create a Workplace Health and Safety Program
While OSHA requirements do not mandate a comprehensive safety and health program for all employers, following one can make it much easier for you to comply with OSHA regulations. To help companies with developing effective safety and health programs, OSHA provides an online introduction to best practices. You can also request to have an OSHA-certified expert visit your facility for a free, confidential on-site consultation.
4. Appoint a Safety Manager
The most efficient way to effectively implement a safety and health program is to appoint a designated safety manager, along with competent safety supervisors to support them. For some businesses, OSHA requires appointing a competent on-site manager.
To be authentically competent, designated safety personnel should have the background to identify safety issues as well as the authority to make corrective changes to fix such issues. In some situations, one individual may possess the expertise to supervise multiple safety areas. In other situations, authority can be delegated to multiple personnel with diverse competencies.
5. Train Your Employees in Safety Procedures
Your designated safety personnel should assist you with training your employees in safe workplace procedures. Employees should be taught never to perform tasks they have not been trained to do safely. They should also not be allowed to perform tasks that may be unsafe. Train your employees to recognize potential hazards, including testing them to confirm that they understand their training. Incorporate safety training into the onboarding procedures you follow with new employees.
To provide support for employee training, OSHA’s site includes an online training center that includes materials, courses, and resources. If you schedule a free on-site OSHA consultation, the agency’s representative can conduct some training while they visit.