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Understanding Work Organization Hazards

As OSHA attorneys, we often stress the physicality of construction work and the risks these tasks present to the workers on a jobsite. We also offer our clients workplace audits to ensure that all potential hazards are greatly reduced or eliminated from the jobsite. Although there are thousands of injuries every year related to physical hazards, there are also a variety of other workplace issues that can result in either short-term or long-term problems. Many of these hazards are considered work organization hazards.

In this article, OSHA lawyers with Cotney Construction Law will discuss three work organization hazards that may be present at your jobsite and ways contractors can prevent these issues from spiraling out of control. Remember, for safety compliance, consult the knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Cotney Construction Law.

Workload Demands in Construction

A construction professional’s “workload” is the total amount of work they are responsible for performing. Of course, an excessive workload can lead to occupational stress issues including:

  • If a worker feels their workload is too much, they can become fatigued or stressed out.
  • If a worker is struggling to perform their required work, they may lose confidence in their abilities.
  • If a worker feels their skills are being underappreciated, they can become increasingly frustrated with their role.

Any of the above examples can lead to a worker feeling that they have no control of the output they are required to perform. Moreover, a disgruntled or overworked employee is more prone to human error. When mistakes happen, the safety of the whole jobsite is compromised.

There are a myriad of issues related to workload including strains, aches, fatigue, anxiety, and mental and emotional reactions. It’s important that contractors manage the workload of the workforce and provide them with the resources they need to combat these issues. This includes monitoring the pace and intensity of each worker’s output, providing your staff with enough breaks, ensuring the workforce feels respected and content with their workload, and offering some flexibility in regard to the workload for each worker.

Workplace Violence

There are many factors in construction that can lead to workplace violence including:

  • Construction work is physically demanding
  • Workers are surrounded by many dangerous elements, including working at great heights or around heavy machinery
  • It’s stressful to complete high-quality work on time
  • Workforce turnover can lead to a lack of cohesion
  • Workers often have to interact with disgruntled bystanders

Whether it’s internal feuding at the jobsite, an incident away from the workplace, or social media bullying, construction firms need to have a policy in place that addresses workplace violence and unprofessional conduct. Moreover, the firm needs to make certain that it takes any form of unprofessional behavior seriously and nips an issue in the bud before it gets out of control.

When an incident of workplace violence occurs, employers should perform the following tasks:

  • Determine the root of the conflict
  • Decide if this conflict can be resolved
  • Assess what steps should be taken for disciplinary action
  • Provide discipline to demonstrate that unprofessional conduct will not be tolerated
  • Maintain disciplinary consistency

As workplace misconduct is one of the most common work organization hazards, construction firms should partner with OSHA defense attorneys to ensure that their contract defines what course of action is taken when incidents of workplace violence occur. Moreover, the contract should state exactly what steps are taken when an employee is terminated for violating this policy. It’s critical that employers don’t look the other way when workplace violence occurs as failing to be proactive puts the entire workforce at risk.

Sexual Harassment

Sex discrimination is a crime that is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment can take many forms including:

  • Unwanted sexual advances from a coworker
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome physical contact
  • Inappropriate verbal communication with a coworker
  • Offensive remarks or inappropriate jokes about a coworker’s sex

Similar to workplace violence, employers need to develop a well-defined sexual harassment policy that prohibits this behavior. Here are some steps an employer can take to prohibit sexual harassment from impacting their workplace:

  • Create an open door policy that allows harassed employees to make a complaint
  • Provide training on ways employees can report misconduct
  • Investigate all reports of misconduct
  • At the conclusion of your investigation, consult an attorney to ensure that the appropriate corrective action is taken

Although work organization hazards can be extremely serious, many of these incidents can also have a domino effect that impacts other areas of a jobsite. For example, an overworked employee’s poor performance can lead to other mistakes on the jobsite that impact the health and wellness of the workforce or result in a fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To ensure your workplace is practicing the best safety measures, consult our experienced OSHA attorneys

If you would like to speak with our OSHA defense lawyers, please contact us today.

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.