The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) inspectors hand out citations across the country for a multitude of violations. Without fail, year after year, the same on-the-job hazards rank at or near the top of the list. General contractors, subcontractors and others often receive construction violations over and over, because they fail to learn how to recognize and avoid these three common work hazards.
OSHA’s Most Commonly Cited Construction Violations
1) Fall Protection
Falls are one of the most common causes of work-related injuries and fatalities. In 2016, OSHA handed out nearly 7,000 citations for violation of fall protection regulations. Employers are required to establish a work environment that limits employees’ risk of falling off overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in floors and walls.
OSHA’s Scott Ketcham describes a fall he experienced early in his government service career.
How to Comply
OSHA regulations require that fall protection is provided at elevations of four feet or more in general industry workplaces, five feet or more in shipyards, six feet or more in the construction industry and eight feet or more in longshoring operations.
Employers can take these steps to minimize risk:
- Mark floor holes with cones or other recognizable signage
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around elevated, open-sided platforms, floors or runways
- Use safety harnesses, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails when appropriate
- Keep floors in work areas in a clean, dry condition
2) Hazard Communication
The hazard communication standard aims to ensure chemical safety in the workplace by informing workers about the identities and hazards of chemicals.
How to Comply
OSHA requires employers to take these steps:
- Information must be available and understandable to workers
- All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for exposed workers
- Must train employees to recognize labels and handle chemicals appropriately
The government estimates that nationally more than 2 million construction laborers regularly work on elevated, temporary platforms, called scaffolds. In 2016, OSHA issued 3,900 violations for scaffolds that were believed to be potentially dangerous.
How to Comply
If your construction company uses scaffolding, you can decrease the probability of construction violations by remembering to follow these simple tips:
- Train employees on the proper uses of scaffolds; how to handle materials; and the load capacities of these structures
- When on a scaffold, require your construction workers to wear a hard hat and non-skid boots
- Personal fall arrest systems should be used when required
- Have trained personnel inspect the scaffold on a daily basis
Whether you work in New York, California or any other state, your top priority must be the health and safety of your workforce. Otherwise, construction violations could pile up and jeopardize your whole operation.