As most contractors and construction businesses know, either by first-hand experience or by word of mouth, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations have the potential to be very costly and extremely stressful. Depending on the severity of the OSHA violation, penalties may range anywhere between $7,000 per serious violation and $70,000 with a minimum of $5,000 for each willful or repeated violation.
It is important to make sure that the construction job site and work practices are continually reviewed and monitored to help prevent workplace hazards. According to OSHA, some of the best ways to control the occurrence of workplace hazards is to:
- Regularly maintain equipment
- Have hazard correction procedures in place
- Instruct everyone on how to use and maintain personal protective equipment
- Ensure that everyone understands and follows safe work procedures
- Have a medical program tailored to your facility or job site to help prevent workplace hazards and exposures
Each year, OSHA releases a report of the most cited job site violations. Here are five of the most common OSHA violations and safety tips and recommendations from a professional Tampa contractor lawyer for avoiding these violations.
1. Inadequate Fall Protection
Falls are consistently the number one cause of OSHA workplace violations because they are the leading cause of the majority of accidents in the workplace. Falls can be especially hazardous to workers on construction job sites and is one of the four most common causes of workplace death in the construction industry. For this reason, OSHA pays particular attention to fall protection, scaffolding and ladder violations.
The best way to prevent fall protection violations is by continuously monitoring and evaluating work sites for fall hazards, fixing holes, providing guardrail systems, and using fall prevention systems such as nets and harnesses. If you have cited by OSHA for a fall protection violation, we highly recommended seeking the guidance of an experienced Tampa contractor attorney.
2. Hazard Communication
It is the duty of chemical manufacturers and importers to properly evaluate the hazards of their chemicals, including corrosiveness, flammability and combustability. This information should be displayed on shipping and container labels and detailed in what are known as material safety data sheets (MSDSs). Common hazard communication violations for companies that handle hazardous chemicals include failure to affix labels, failure to have a written plan and failure to provide employees training and access to MSDS.
To prevent hazard communication violations, it is recommended to have your employees trained on the proper handling of hazardous substances, including how to read and understand chemical labels.
3. Improper Use of Scaffolding
Poorly maintained, incorrectly assembled, faulty, or improperly used scaffolding can present a number of safety concerns for individuals on a construction site. Two of the main safety concerns involved with scaffolding include the safety of individuals using the scaffolding and the safety of individuals near or underneath it. When scaffolding collapses, the collapse may cause serious fall injury to individuals on top and the falling scaffolding and equipment may pose a threat to individuals underneath or near it.
To avoid scaffolding accidents, make sure that all equipment and materials used are properly maintained, instruct employees on the proper method for assembling scaffolding, and be sure that individuals who are using the scaffolding are aware of any weight limits.
4. Respiratory Protection
Common OSHA respiratory protection violations for construction companies that have employees who are exposed to airborne contaminants include failing to have a written policy, inappropriate type of equipment for the hazards that are present on the job site, improper sizing and storage or equipment, and lack of employee medical evaluations
Adequate respiratory protection depends on the actual protective equipment, and making sure the equipment is of the proper fit and regularly maintained, and training your employees on its proper use.
5. Electrical and Wiring Violations
Electrocution is another leading cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry and is also one of the leading causes of non-fatal injuries among construction workers. Some of OSHA’s common electrical and wiring method violations include improper use of extension cords, problems with flexible cords and cables, and use of temporary wiring as permanent wiring. Extension cords cannot be used as a substitute for permanent wiring.
Electrical and wiring violations can be avoided by maintaining power tools, making sure that heavy machinery does not come into contact with live wires, instructing employees on how to properly use extension cords, and how to spot potential hazards, such as not using a metal ladder near power lines or avoiding contact with areas of water that have been exposed to electrical wiring.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.