Health And Safety Guidelines In The Construction Industry
With the commemoration of the Workers’ Memorial Day on April the 28th, The Occupation of Safety and Health Administration of the United States took the liberty to pay respects to the men and women who lost their lives on the job. OSHA has reiterated their prevention methods and safety guidelines as a tribute and response to the alarming rise in numbers this year. The current COVID rates emphasize the need for these regulations now more than ever.
As the saying goes, “Safety brings first aid to the uninjured”, most successful and driven firms like to use this rule of thumb to prevent disasters in job sites; and to move safely, means to follow guidelines. The United States has been home to construction projects worth $1.3 trillion with approximately 7 million employees. As a leading contributor to the U.S economy this sector is unfortunately also a sometimes dangerous occupation. For this reason, as most would be familiar with, the OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970 came in to being in co-ordinance with The Occupation Safety and Health Administration, introducing strict guidelines and regulations to keep relevant stakeholders in check and increase the safety standards of the country.
The OSHA manual is especially relevant to heavy machinery users, while providing a partial overview on the numerous safety issues and hazard within the industry. This is especially handy for international projects focused within the United States of America, including private and some public sectors under their jurisdiction. The purpose behind reinforcement of OSHA laws and regulations were found to be the rise in fatal and non-fatal workplace injuries within the construction industry. Each year, these laws are modified and reviewed to promote safety and health within the workplace.
“OSHA’s mission is to save lives by ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” – OSHA Gov.
Top 10 2021 OSHA Violations for the Construction Industry:
1. COVID Regulations:
With the increase in COVID rates over the past year, OSHA has reiterated the importance of having precautions and COVID-related regulations within the workplace this year. Violators will be faced with severe consequences such as fines. As part of their detailed COVID guidelines which were released earlier this year, OSHA has outlined face coverings, implementation of prevention programs such as social distancing, PPE, good hygiene and identifying and adopting any relevant measures that would aid in containing and preventing the spread of the virus.
As construction is a highly-hazardous industry, OSHA has introduced and developed many outreach programs and useful guidelines for members of the construction industry. One vital aspect of these outreach programs happen to be conducting inspections within the workplace. OSHA has also released several resources such as ‘Construction Industry Digest’ that would aid in creating checklists and identification of problems regarding the job site, materials and equipment.
3. Confined Spaces:
According to 1926.21(b) of the OSHA act, all workers and employees of the job site must receive clear and standard instructions and training for working within confined spaces. Confined spaces have been a contributor to many accidents within the last year, due to the hazardous nature of working in entrapped and restricted areas. Some important guidelines to remember include, implementing practices that eliminate and control hazards in permit space operations, protective equipment, appropriate testing of atmospheric conditions.
4. Fall Protection:
OSHA as part of their construction guidelines, have embraced prevention as the best measure for any workplace. For this reason, in order to minimize injuries caused by falls, it is important for every organization to guard every floor hole, implement guard rails and toe boards, any necessary fall protection equipment that would aid in safety such as harness, safety nets, stair and hand railings.
5. Heavy Machinery Safety:
Operation of Heavy Machinery must be done so only after acquired the necessary training and certification that would ensure appropriate usage of machinery. Safety rules that must be followed while operating heavy machinery include good communication within workers of the job sweat, protective wear, the implementation of the three-point rule along with conducting the recommended inspection and servicing of the vehicle. Failure to comply could lead the organization to face serious consequences.
6. Powered Industrial Trucks:
Before implementing the usage of industrial trucks within a job site it is essential to ensure that they meet the construction requirements of OSHA. Industrial trucks include fork trucks, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks and so on. Each vehicle is required to undergo inspection and testing after which they will bear a label of approval from the testing laboratory. Further guidelines can be found within section 178 of the OSHA manual.
7. Cranes and Derricks:
Similarly, equipment in the cranes and derricks category must be inspected by a professional before every use. Load capacities, hazard warnings and instruction must be present on every machine. Areas within the swing radius of the machine should also be appropriately barricaded to avoid injuries of workers in the vicinity.
8. Stairways and Ladders:
The United States recognizes falls from height to be the leading cause of deaths and injuries. For this reason, OSHA compliance standards are not to be taken lightly. General requirements are found to be the implementation of stairways and ladders where there is a break of 19 inches, elimination of any obstacles in entry of permit only areas.
OSHA requires employees working in more than 10 feet to be protected through guard rails and hand rails to prevent falls. The height of the guard rail must be between 38-45 inches according to OSHA standards. Furthermore, the load capacity must also be able to support 4 times the intended maximum capacity.
10. Electrical Wiring:
One of the most violated areas remains to be electrical violations. In the year 2020, there was found to be over 4000 violations in this area. In order to ensure compliance with OSHA standards, it is important to enforce a lockout/tag out programs and ensuring only qualified pupil are working on electrical equipment. Some hazards that should be avoided are loose electrical connections within the job site, substandard insulation, broken ground connections and ton and exposed wires. Further guidelines are now available on OSHA’s manual .
For more information visit: https://www.osha.gov/construction