Effective workforce management is the first line of defense against OSHA fines. Learn how to streamline OSHA compliance through labor tracking software.
Effective January 2019, OSHA penalty costs have increased by a multiplier of 1.02552 (rounded to the nearest dollar). This increase is correlated to the cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2019, which is based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
Ultimately, the increase is being implemented to adjust for annual inflation, and a serious OSHA infraction will now cost nearly $500 more than it did in years prior.
OSHA compliance should be a daily priority. Not only to prevent hefty penalties but also to protect workers from preventable injury. So, while OSHA compliance might seem like a burdensome expense at times, federal regulations are actually in place for good reason, and safety managers should take every precaution possible to ensure jobsite safety.
Common Causes of OSHA Violations
Even the most efficient, well-monitored jobsite can fall prey to OSHA violations. Rushing to meet deadlines, hasty training, subcontractor disorientation, and more can lead to unforeseen OSHA violations even in spite of a thorough preventive strategy.
Of the near 1,000 on-site fatalities recorded in 2017, the majority can be attributed to four causes. The following causes are so universal in the industry that OSHA has deemed these incidents the “Construction’s Fatal Four”:
- Falls (39.2% of total fatalities)
- Struck by Object (8.2% of total fatalities)
- Electrocutions (7.3% of total fatalities)
- Caught-in/between (5.1% of total fatalities)
OSHA infractions don’t have to be dramatic oversights — mere negligence is a leading cause of violations. In fact, improper safety equipment and communication errors rank in OSHA’s top ten most frequently cited infractions.
A thorough production schedule should, in theory, mitigate the above issues. But, often due to on-site confusion, workers can find themselves in unauthorized areas without the proper gear. This is not only dangerous for the ill-prepared worker but can also cost your project in OSHA fines.
There were nearly 1,000 fatalities on construction sites in 2017. This means that the construction industry accounted for over 20 percent of private sector fatalities across all industries. This has to change — it’s clear that employing the safety status-quo is simply not cutting it.
Management’s Best Tool Against OSHA Violations
Labor management is miles ahead of where it was even a few years ago. Thanks to electronic recordkeeping platforms, it is easier than ever to monitor OSHA compliance and worker safety. A labor and workforce management system allows managers to easily manage worker clearance, restrict control points, store emergency contact information, and more.
Through Trimble CrewSight, worker access records can be batch uploaded, and then reflected in a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card or Low Energy Bluetooth (BLE) beacon to protect entry-exit areas, hard access control gates, and open access zones for vehicle entry.
This should be the standard, not the exception. Installing a system that helps workers meet OSHA requirements not only promotes a safe jobsite, but will also be looked upon favorably by an OSHA inspector. It’s wise to be in the good graces of OSHA, and through a labor management system inspectors can trust that you are being proactive in preventing site access to workers missing key training or documentation.
Labor tracking software has several applications that help improve OSHA compliance:
1. Managing and Tracking Labor
Managing a large contingency of workers — all with varying levels of clearance — can be a logistical headache. For the majority of construction sites, managers lack the resources to quickly, and accurately, identify all on-site personnel. In the event of a safety issue, it’s important to have the capability to locate workers and identify any medical conditions they might have. Labor tracking software allows managers to scan a worker’s badge using their phone and instantly pull up a worker’s record and emergency contact information. This is the most efficient way to make sure workers are cared for as quickly as possible.
2. Jobsite Security
Increase security and reduce equipment theft by combining an access control system with your worker’s database. Crewsight for example, allows you to closely control your site by only allowing easy access through a turnstile to workers that meet specific criteria, such as NDA’s and certain qualifications. In the event of unauthorized access, whether a worker accidentally or intentionally enters a restricted zone, safety managers are alerted on the spot. At the end of the day, you can be confident the site is empty and secure thanks to automated supervisor alerts.
Once you know who is on site, the next step is to proactively establish communication channels. Through a labor management platform, managers can send out site-wide messages to workers and alert them of emergencies or planned events. You can even narrow the recipients to select trades and/or companies. For example, if there is a high wind advisory, you can alert the crane operators right from your phone. Broadcast communications can also be used to remind workers to keep areas clear and tidy, which is essential for ongoing satisfaction of OSHA requirements and a safe jobsite.
Ultimately, a labor tracking platform helps management ensure the right workers, with the right credentials, are in the right place at the right time. Compliance documentation (such as OSHA training) can be tied to a worker record. If any mandatory certificates, training documents, etc. expire or are not present, a labor management platform will alert H&S managers immediately. Also, turnstiles will automatically prevent workers from jobsite access until their credentials are up-to-date. This is an easy, automatic enforcement method which requires no human interaction to maintain or monitor, and it dramatically reduces the chances OSHA infractions.
OSHA compliance is a win/win — proper labor management not only prevents hefty federal fines, but also reduces the likelihood of on-site injury. OSHA has compiled a step-by-step guide, which outlines the major safety requirements for all construction jobsites. This guide includes several best-practices from how to recognize common workplace hazards to effective onboarding techniques.
For more information on the software that makes OSHA compliance easy, check out our eBook OSHA Construction Safety Rules You Need to Know.