6 Common Ways Companies Ignore OSHA Construction Safety Policies
OSHA, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, sets forth hundreds of rules and regulations intended to help keep workers and employers safe all across the United States. Not all employers follow these regulations, however, and injuries occur regularly, especially in the construction sector. According to OSHA statistics, between October 2012 and September 2013, nearly 30,000 citations were issued because of OSHA construction safety policy violations, resulting in more than $47 million in penalties. Companies ignore OSHA at their own risk.
Common OSHA Construction Safety Citations
While any violation of OSHA guidelines can result in a citation and subsequent fines, there are some violations that are more common than others. The most regularly noted OSHA construction safety violations occur in the following areas:
- Fall protection – Construction employers are required to have secure fall protection systems in place. Any platform that is more than six feet off the ground must have a guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest system for all employees. From October 2012 to September 2013, companies were cited nearly 7,000 times for fall protection violations.
- Scaffolding – Scaffolding must be able to support its own weight as well as four times its maximum intended load, and all suspension ropes and hardware must be able to hold at least six times their maximum intended load. OSHA construction safety guidelines also specify how planks must be applied, how brackets should be installed, and other important safety details.
- Respiratory protection – Employers are required to prevent contaminated air, fumes, gases, vapors, and other substances from injuring workers. They must provide respirators applicable to the job at hand and conduct medical evaluations on all employees who use them. There must also be procedures in place for cleaning and maintaining the respirators and training employees to use them properly.
- Ladders – OSHA requires that all ladders be able to support at least four times their maximum intended load. Each step (depending on the type of ladder in question) must be between eight and fourteen inches apart, and must be fitted with a skid-resistant material to prevent slipping. Between October 2012 and September 2013, ladder violations resulted in more than $3.6 million in fines.
- Eye and facial protection – When machines, tools, or substances are present that could injure nearby workers’ eyes or faces, OSHA construction safety guidelines require that all employees be provided with adequate optical and facial protective equipment. This equipment must meet the standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute and should be maintained and cleaned regularly.
- Training – All employees should be instructed on preventing, controlling, and eliminating hazards in the workplace, and any employees required to handle toxic substances must be trained to do so safely and be made aware of the toxins’ potential hazards and dangers.
If employees see any of these or other OSHA construction safety guidelines being violated at their workplace, they are encouraged to file a complaint through OSHA’s website or via their local OSHA representative.
After an OSHA Complaint is Filed
Once an employee has filed a complaint with OSHA alleging safety regulation violations or an unsafe work environment, the OSHA then evaluates the complaint to determine if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the allegations to be true. If OSHA staff decides that the complaint is valid, a representative will be sent to the workplace to inspect the premises. They will physically check the workplace, interview employees, take pictures, and evaluate the location’s compliance with OSHA regulations, and they will test any on-site safety programs or precautions that may be in place. Once their inspection is complete, the representative will issue a citation for any violations found, and the company or site at fault will be given a deadline by when the violation is to be fixed. If this deadline is not met, they will be issued a daily fine until the problem is resolved.
If you suspect OSHA construction safety violations at your workplace or you were injured because of one, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Pat Maloney today to begin filing a safety violations complaint.