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Avoid Most Common OSHA Pitfalls

Construction sites are one of the places most plagued with OSHA violations, so it is essential to be aware of how to prevent them in your workplace.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed in 1971 to oversee healthy and safe working conditions for all by setting and enforcing standards, outreach, providing training, education and assistance.

OSHA is also the enforcer, regularly conducting workplace inspections, following up on worker complaints and sometimes levying fines for violations to its standards or if it identifies any serious worksite hazards.

OSHA has six main categories for violations, including five of which result in civil penalties. Based on inflation, penalty amounts increase each year. For example, the maximum penalty in 2020 was $2,300 – a modest 1.8% increase. Higher fines and criminal prosecution are also possible if the violation results in a death.

Every employer needs to be aware of the steps to avoid high fines and potentials for serious safety and health hazards.

Develop a Safety Plan

First off, you need to know what an OSHA compliance safety officer can investigate and what employee rights are during and after an inspection. And a great safety plan should start well before an inspection occurs.

Inspect your work site for potential hazards and where necessary, add personal protective equipment (PPE) for your employees. Always, always maintain complete records involving illness, injuries and deaths.

Get adequate training for all employees on proper safety procedures they need to use every day and those they need to know should an emergency arise.

You might consider holding practice drills so employees will know what it is like to go through an OSHA inspection. Practicing inspections, just like practicing fire drills, prepares them better should an actual inspection occur.

Even during the onboarding process, one of the first steps you should take with a new employee is to train them not only on their role but also on the equipment they will use on the job. In addition, each employee should be fully trained in all safety standards to reduce the possibility of workplace illness or injury significantly.

OSHA does have some training standards outlined in some of its OSHA standards but does not have one consistent safety training standard.

And conducting the training does not guarantee OSHA compliance. Instead, it simply makes workers aware of potential hazards at the worksite.

Always maintain documentation to prove you have taken the necessary steps to avoid violations.

There is always one form or another of PPE to protect workers against hazards. OSHA standards cover every type of PPE from clothing, respiratory protection, hearing and eye protection to fall arrest systems.

As an employer, you are required to provide adequate PPE to protect employees from potential or identified hazards – at no cost to your employees.

Repeat training as often as necessary. Some OSHA regulations require training at least once a year, but it is always a good idea to stay on top of the latest safety training available.

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.