Construction workers face some of the most difficult working conditions in the entire workforce. They face falls, heavy machinery, electrocution, and asbestos, to name a few.
By design, construction is a high-hazard industry. And yet, your workers still show up every day and work hard for you.
It’s your job, as an employer, to keep your workers safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is here to make sure that happens. Here are a few key OSHA construction standards you need to know.
General Safety and Health
Construction workers are one of the most at-risk groups in the entire workforce. They are one of the top five occupations with the largest number of workplace injuries resulting in days away from work, along with service workers (police and firefighters), transportation, manufacturing, and maintenance workers.
As an employer, it’s your job to provide your workers with a safe, healthy working environment. The trouble is that can be a bit of an uphill battle with construction sites.
OSHA provides extensive guidelines regarding your responsibilities as an employer.
For one thing, you’re responsible for certain housekeeping tasks. Any debris, including scrap lumber, nails, and screws, must be cleared away from the work areas, stairs, and passageways. Any combustible debris should be removed at periodic intervals throughout the course of construction for worker safety. Containers should be provided for the collection of waste materials and scraps.
Only employees who have the appropriate training should be permitted to operate equipment and machinery for their own safety and the safety of others.
It is also your job as an employer to implement programs to stay compliant with OSHA. This includes regular, frequent inspections of your job sites, materials, and equipment, performed by a qualified inspector.
Personal Protective Equipment
It should go without saying on a construction site, but your employees should have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
As an employer, you are responsible for acquiring protective equipment and gear appropriate for a given job site. You’re also responsible for requiring your employees to use that equipment and gear–and enforcing the rules when they don’t use the equipment.
This applies to any work sites or situations where your workers come into contact with hazards that could be reasonably prevented by protective equipment.
Fire Protection and Prevention
Fires are high on that list of potential hazards, which means it’s your job to ensure that fires don’t happen.
Under OSHA guidelines, employers are responsible for creating and implementing a complete fire protection and prevention plan. This plan should cover all phases of construction and demolition and should provide all the necessary firefighting equipment needed to implement the plan.
That equipment should be readily available at all times and should be conspicuously located so that it cannot be overlooked in the event of a fire. The equipment should also be periodically inspected to ensure that it is operating properly.
That includes portable fire fighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers and small hose lines not rated less than 2A (one 55-gallon open drum of water with fire pails may be substituted). You should also have a hose line with a nozzle, discharging at least 5 gallons per minute. Fire extinguishers should be available every 3,000 square feet of the protected area.
Keeping Up with OSHA Construction Standards
You need to comply with OSHA construction standards. The problem is that there are so many it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s where EHS Insight comes in. We provide compliance-driven EHS software for building materials and construction companies like you. Contact us if you’d like to find out more about how we can help your compliance program stay on track.