How do you feel about construction safety regulations?

OSHAConstruction Safety Regulations

by Misty Fanning

Construction site safety should be the number one goal of general contractors, subcontractors and employees. There are several resources that need to be utilized before preparing to start a construction project.

All employer’s and employee’s are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If more employers and employees utilized the regulations that are available a majority of construction accidents could be avoided.

OSHA 1926.20(b) discusses accident prevention responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the employer to implement programs and verify employees are following applicable rules. It is also regulated that competent persons utilized by the general contractor or subcontractor must provide inspections to make sure the construction project is safe at all times.

If the employer, whether contractor or subcontractor, fails to follow the regulations this could lead to accidents or OSHA citations. The general contractor and the subcontractor depending on the agreement can share the duties on the construction project. When the general contractor makes an agreement with a subcontractor, the general contractor must assume all responsibilities as an employer under OSHA regulations.

As far as a subcontractor, he or she is responsible for any applicable OSHA standards. The general contractor will be responsible for the entire site and the subcontractor would be liable for any agreed part of the contract. The subcontractor and the general contractor would be jointly responsible for the subcontractor’s work.

The general contractor and subcontractor are required to provide personal protective equipment for employees that are exposed to hazards at the site. If a general contractor or subcontractor does not provide or require employees to use the personal protective equipment he or she may be fined.

The personal protective equipment must be provided for the employee by the employer. Personal protection includes helmets, safety lines, lifelines, lanyards, safety nets, eye protection, foot protection etc. All personal protection equipment must meet applicable regulations to verify the equipment is safe for employees to use.

The contractor or subcontractor is required to provide employees training. Any contractor and/or subcontractor who does not train employees may be fined. The employer shall verify each employee fully understands and knows how to avoid unsafe conditions.

If an employer feels that an employee is not properly trained it is the employer’s duty to make sure that person is trained correctly. It is also the employer’s duty to know applicable regulations to control and eliminate any hazards. Resources: 1. OSHA Regulations

My Response:

I agree in general with OSHA regulations. There are some instances when I’ve been on a construction site that common sense says that a safety helmet isn’t needed but OSHA regulations require it. My survey crew recently had to sit through an hour long “training” in order to survey in the woods near a power plant.

Of course they had to wear helmet, glasses and steel toe shoes. I’m also aware of fatal accidents related to ditch collapses. These are also common sense situations. If you put someone in a ditch over their head – you need shoring. You shouldn’t need regulations for that BUT some contractors ignore the regulations and common sense.

So, overall I’m good with the regs. If they keep accidents from happening because a contractor is scared of a fine, then I’ll bear the extra time in training and wear those clunky steel toed shoes. Keith – Pro17 Engineering