Construction workers play a vital role in our society, and it’s important that they stay safe on the job. Many accidents and injuries can be prevented by following certain safety guidelines.
Heavy machinery, dangerous heights, and loud worksites make construction one of the most hazardous industries. This article will cover what safety regulations protect construction workers and how to avoid them.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for creating and enforcing safety standards across a broad variety of job fields in the United States. Among other things, OSHA fines companies that fail to adhere to its regulations and investigates work-related accidents that result in serious harm to employees.
Employers must follow OSHA’s requirements and keep records of worker injuries and illnesses. OSHA also sets inspection policy, conducts targeted inspection programs and responds to fatalities, catastrophes and complaints.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a workplace free of serious recognized hazards and must follow all OSHA standards. Workers have the right to request an inspection of their workplace, and federal law protects whistleblowers from employer retaliation for reporting potential violations. OSHA sets its standards based on workplace research and consultation with employers, unions, technical experts and other stakeholders. Five states and territories operate their own OSHA-approved state programs that cover only public sector workers.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) is the law that sets and enforces protective workplace standards. It also provides for related research, education and training.
The law requires employers to provide employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. Workers have the right to file a complaint about a dangerous work environment and ask OSHA to inspect their jobsite.
OSHA regulations require all construction contractors to maintain safe working conditions for their employees. This includes providing all necessary personal protection equipment. Some of these PPEs include goggles, hard hats, face masks, hearing protectors or plugs, gloves, and steel-toe boots.
Another important requirement is to use fall protection systems on all ladders and scaffolding. This can reduce injuries caused by falls, which account for the majority of construction workplace accidents each year. In addition, all contractors must properly train their employees on the use of PPEs and keep daily logs of everyone who enters a construction site.
OSHA’s Top 10 Violations
Each year, OSHA releases a list of the most frequently cited standards from its inspections. This list serves as a tool to help employers find and fix recognized hazards before OSHA shows up at their door.
Fall hazards topped the list this year, and it is no surprise as falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers. OSHA requires employers to provide workers with adequate fall protection for working at heights, including safety nets and railings.
Another frequent citation is for inadequate respiratory protection and training. The standard requires employers to provide employees with the proper protective equipment and training on how to properly use it. Additionally, employers must ensure that workers have access to medical examinations and respiratory treatment if needed. Finally, employers must post the location of any workplace hazards and keep records on injuries and illnesses.
OSHA’s Top 5 Violations
Year after year, the same safety violations top the list. It is important for construction businesses to understand these citations and work towards compliance.
Falls continue to be the leading cause of death on construction sites. Employers need to ensure that workers are protected while working above a lower surface or on scaffolding.
Eye and Face Protection
It is important that workers are provided with proper safety equipment to protect themselves from flying debris, chemicals and light radiation on the job site. Employees must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and be properly trained to identify these hazards.
Exposure to dust, chemical fumes, gas, smoke, sprays or vapors can lead to short or long-term respiratory problems. Employers need to provide proper ventilation, train employees on how to use PPE and create a program to monitor workers’ exposure levels.