Contractors need to lead by example on the jobsite. When it comes to safety rules and regulations, there’s never an acceptable excuse for construction professionals to breach these important laws. If the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t feel it’s an acceptable excuse, neither should you.
In this editorial, an OSHA defense attorney with Cotney Construction Law will discuss some of the most common reasons why workers claim that it’s okay to breach safety protocol and how contractors can resolve these issues. Remember, if your jobsite has experienced a citation, an OSHA attorney is standing by.
The Experienced Worker
Some workers have so many years on the job that they simply know more than everyone else (or so they think). With decades of experience, some workers are resistant to change. Perhaps your jobsite has more safety restrictions than these workers are used to. Maybe they’re required to wear more personal protective equipment (PPE) than they believe to be necessary. With an alleged impeccable safety record, these workers won’t adopt new practices because they’ve been doing it their way for years and, in their opinion, they’re doing just fine.
It can be a difficult balancing act to keep your skilled workers happy while abiding by safety standards and company policies. If you have a worker that is resistant to change, it’s best to take them aside and explain the situation to them. It may not be a pleasant conversation, but all workers on the jobsite need to comply with OSHA standards. If you are in charge of the jobsite, you should do this yourself. Chances are that an experienced worker would prefer to hear this from the person in charge rather than a subordinate, so make sure not to delegate this task.
The Productive Worker
There’s a lot of work that needs to be completed efficiently on a jobsite. Some workers may be so focused on working quickly that they deliberately breach safety regulations in order to finish their work on time. If a worker thinks that their task at hand is more important than safety, this type of reckless behavior can affect the rest of the workforce. If a worker tells you that their own safety is second to their production, they’re at risk of putting themselves and everyone else on the jobsite in danger.
It’s critical that contractors hit their deadlines to avoid any liability or a breach of contract. It’s even more critical that every worker on the jobsite goes home to their family each night. If you have a worker that doesn’t believe safety is equally as important as productivity, they need to take additional safety and training courses. As the leader of a jobsite, it’s important to reach this type of worker so that they understand the importance of safety. Even if they don’t really care about their own safety or health, they need to at least understand that their decisions can impact the safety of the other workers on the jobsite.
Other Types of Workers
Some workers may provide you with every excuse under the sun to explain why they violated safety rules, including:
- The Directionless Worker: Some workers claim that their supervisor never trained them in safety practices, so they had no way of knowing. Depending on the circumstances, this may be true. Workers need to understand that they should be proactive when it comes to safety and speak up if they feel they need more direction, and contractors need to address their supervisors and ensure that they are performing the core tasks of their position.
- The First-Time Offender: You’d be amazed by how many workers only violate safety rules once. But by happenstance, this is the one time they are caught doing so. Whether they are a first-time offender or a serial safety violator, the end result is that they aren’t complying with safety rules. Of course, when this worker breaches a safety guideline again, this excuse becomes null and void.
- The Clueless Worker: Some workers will have an excuse for breaching safety rules that is as unbelievable as the violation. Whether they were just doing something for a second or they felt their decision was helping out, contractors have to communicate with all members of their workforce that safety is a priority. Moreover, the worker needs to be educated about the reason their actions were dangerous. Even if a worker has the best of intentions, it’s important that they learn that their actions will not be tolerated if they continue to breach safety rules.
Reaching Your Audience
To ensure that your jobsite remains safe and that you’re in compliance with the rules and regulations set forth by OSHA, contractors need to effectively communicate with their workforce. This includes training your workforce, keeping them up to speed on safety practices, and considering the best way to approach a worker that is breaching safety rules.
As OSHA defense lawyers, we know that jobsites are unique workplaces consisting of a variety of professionals with diverse backgrounds and personalities. There is no universal formula to effectively convey to each worker your safety practices; however, if you listen to your workforce and treat them with respect while you explain safety protocols, they will be more likely to listen and change their ways. For any safety concerns at your jobsite, consult the OSHA defense attorneys of Cotney Construction Law.
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.