OSHA Standards 101: How to Maintain Safety Compliance

June 7, 2018 Matthew Ramage

You don’t have to look much further than recent construction statistics to understand why OSHA standards are so important. One figure, in particular, is enough to illustrate the importance of ongoing safety improvements: the frequency of fatal work injuries on the job site increased 7 percent in 2016. Sadly, 5,019 people died on the job, compared to 4,836 in 2015.

Some might attribute this higher-than-average number to an outlier year, or any other extenuating circumstance, but the fact of the matter is there is always room for improvement — starting with understanding, and implementing, OSHA safety standards.

 

OSHA standards checklist

OSHA has developed a seven-part guide that outlines the major safety requirements of any construction jobsite. The whole guide is worth reading, but far too long to do justice in a single article. Here are some highlights from each of the seven recommended steps in achieving OSHA compliance:

  • Leading construction hazards: An overview of the most common safety hazards  

    • Includes injuries related to falls, electrical, scaffolding, motor vehicles and more.

  • Other hazards: These are common safety risks, but they are not applicable to all job sites, trades or circumstances.

    • Anything from communication standards to concrete standards. This category is far more tailored to specific circumstances.

  • Survey: OSHA recommends regular job site surveys to uncover new safety hazards and to reassess existing ones.

    • It never hurts to reevaluate your safety standards and be on the lookout for items such as asbestos, asphalt fumes, carbon monoxide, toxic metals, and more. Refer to the OSHA Pocketbook for a more complete list of potential hazards to look for.

      • About 44 percent of all workers in construction are exposed to hazardous noise, and 31 percent of noise-exposed construction workers reported not wearing any hearing protection.  

  • Develop a safety and health program: OSHA standards require construction employers to have accident prevention programs in place to ensure ongoing safety improvements.

    • As an incentive, OSHA offers “focused inspections” — inspections which are narrower in scope and quicker to perform — to contractors with a history of excellence in prevention programming.

  • Training: Anyone who has been in the construction business long enough knows that a safe jobsite starts with effective worker training. Education requirements are outlined, in detail, in the OSHA Training Requirements Handbook.

    • OSHA offers two outreach programs which satisfy varying degrees of training standards. The OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 are 10 and 30 hour courses, respectively, conducted by OSHA-certified trainers.

  • Recordkeeping, reporting and posting: OSHA requires documentation of workplace injuries and illnesses and has guidelines for OSHA standard visibility.

    • There are specific guidelines for reporting injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Plus, OSHA posters, outlining workplace standards, must be posted in a prominent location.

In addition to these six items, the OSHA compliance quickstart guide provides a seventh, and final step: additional compliance assistance information. Here you are encouraged to continue your OSHA compliance knowledge with more educational resources, workplace diversity information, and contact links.

 

How to ensure job site compliance

Labor management has come a long way since the days of a clipboard, pen, and good memory. Even under the best conditions, a busy jobsite can be a chaotic place with numerous opportunities for human error and unforeseen circumstances to turn dangerous. Today, owners, general contractors, and safety/security managers employ many technology-based recordkeeping platforms to manage worker clearance, job site locations, emergency contact info, and more.

The most effective way to ensure compliance is to automate as much of the process as possible by employing a broad ranging labor management system including site access control. This technology automatically prevents workers without proper certification from entering certain jobsite areas. If someone without the proper documentation attempts to walk past a reader, safety managers or site security are immediately alerted.

A fully-integrated labor management solution, which combines the power of site access control, labor coordination, and safety management, is the solution to maintaining OSHA compliance without sacrificing administrative efficiency. Labor management technology lets you monitor worker skills, qualifications, and clearances to keep them safe and your job site OSHA compliant.

 

 

About the Author

Matthew Ramage

Matthew Ramage is Trimble’s Segment Manager for Asset Management and the MEP Global Marcom Director. He leads a new marketing approach for his team, specializing in inbound and content-centric marketing.

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