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Your Guide to Avoiding OSHA Violations & Enhancing Workplace Safety in the Construction Industry

By May 11, 2023April 18th, 2024No Comments

Discover how to avoid common OSHA violations, build a comprehensive safety program, and foster a culture of safety in your construction business. Learn to protect your employees and your bottom line.

Are you concerned that your company may be at risk for common OSHA construction safety violations? It’s essential to ensure your safety program is effectively protecting your workers.

A single safety hazard can cost your business a staggering $15,625 in Occupational Health and Safety Administration fines. That’s right, five figures for just one violation of workplace health and safety laws.

The financial repercussions don’t stop there. Once OSHA identifies an issue, it will set a deadline for resolution. If you fail to rectify the problem within the specified timeframe, you could face the same penalty every day the issue remains, or multiple penalties if they discover the same violation in more than one instance. Even more concerning, if OSHA determines that you’ve committed a willful or repeat violation, fines could soar to an eye-watering $156,259.

And remember, OSHA isn’t the only regulatory body you need to consider. There are also other federal regulators, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state plans.

Beyond penalties, manufacturers that fail to manage their risks adequately can incur hundreds of thousands—or even millions—in indirect expenses. These costs can include workers’ compensation claims, lost productivity following an incident, decreased workforce morale due to fear and uncertainty around risk areas, hours of labor spent identifying and resolving the issue, expenses for cleaning and replacing out-of-date, damaged, or broken equipment, and legal and compliance fees.

Importantly, don’t underestimate the value of a good reputation. Your reputation can significantly impact your ability to attract new clients and retain high-quality employees.

So, are you doing everything you can to avoid these expenses? Is your construction safety program effectively protecting your workers? Don’t wait until an OSHA inspector discovers any shortcomings for you.

The quickest way to gauge the efficacy of your manufacturing safety program is to identify whether you’re at risk for any of the most common OSHA violations.

The Top 5 OSHA Violations in Construction

In 2022, construction companies paid out $100 million dollars in penalties for OSHA violations. Let’s examine the five most frequently violated OSHA standards in the construction industry:

  1. Fall Protection & Ladders – When workers perform tasks at heights of 6 feet or more near openings or edges, they must be protected from falling. Edge guarding violations are prevalent because construction workers are often exposed to fall hazards when working on rooftops, openings on sides of buildings, scaffolding, and other heights.
  2. Scaffolding – Many scaffolding violations result from faulty equipment, dangerous environmental conditions, or improper training. OSHA specifies that a “competent person” must be on hand to ensure the scaffold is safe to use, oversee erecting and dismantling, and conduct training and inspections.
  3. Fall Hazard Training – Employers are expected to protect workers from falls, but unfortunately, falls continue to occur. Training is critical to decreasing the number of falls in the construction industry.
  4. Eye and Face Protection – The face and eyes are among the most vulnerable parts of the body, with many safety incidents involving an object striking a worker’s face or eyes, injuries from flying particles, burns from acids or chemicals, or exposure to light radiation.

To avoid these and other OSHA citations, review the relevant standards thoroughly and ensure your company is compliant with all employer requirements.

How Can Your Company Avoid OSHA Violations?

  1. Written Safety Programs – Develop and maintain written safety programs covering potential hazards. OSHA requires these programs to be reviewed and updated annually and made available to all employees.
  2. In-depth Safety Training – Both new hire and annual safety training should cover all risks workers may be exposed to on the job site. Staff should be aware of the risks associated with their jobs, especially when working at heights, with hazardous chemicals, or with dangerous machinery.
  3. Periodic Jobsite Inspections – Regularly conduct inspections to identify hazardous conditions at the worksite. Most job sites require frequent monitoring to stay on top of safety issues. These inspections not only identify hazards but also provide opportunities to address problems before injuries and accidents can occur.
  4. Safe Tools and Equipment – Providing safe tools and equipment is essential, and workers should inspect them regularly. Many workers rely on their tools and equipment to perform their work safely. Unsafe tools and equipment can significantly increase the risk of severe accidents, which can lead to OSHA citations.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment – Companies must provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers. This includes fall arrest systems, hard hats, respirators, and hearing protection, which are all necessary for workers to carry out their jobs safely.
OSHA Violations Construction Safety Workplace Safety Program

Remember, you don’t have to manage your OSHA requirements alone. If you have questions or need more detailed OSHA compliance guidance, there are resources available to assist you.

To truly protect your workforce and your bottom line, you need comprehensive information about not just OSHA’s top 5, but every potential hazard in your organization. A thorough evaluation of your facilities to identify current gaps and risk areas is also crucial.

Remember, developing and enforcing a comprehensive safety program is the key to avoiding OSHA fines and preventing worker injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Be proactive, and ensure your workplace is as safe as it can be.

It’s worth noting that achieving a safe work environment is not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process that requires commitment, vigilance, and a culture that prioritizes safety. This is where continuous training and education come into play.

Continuous Training and Education – Regularly updating your team’s safety training is one of the most effective ways to prevent workplace accidents. In a constantly evolving field like construction, new hazards can emerge unexpectedly. To keep your workers safe, they need to be aware of these potential risks and know how to handle them.

Fostering a Safety Culture – Beyond meeting OSHA requirements, cultivating a culture of safety within your organization is crucial. When safety becomes a shared responsibility, everyone is more likely to keep an eye out for potential hazards and take the necessary steps to mitigate them. This culture shift can not only lead to fewer accidents but also increase morale and productivity within your team.

Leveraging Technology – With advancements in technology, there are now more tools than ever to help you maintain a safe workplace. From software that can help you track and address potential hazards, to devices that can monitor worker health in real-time, technology can play a significant role in your safety efforts.

Avoiding hefty OSHA fines and ensuring a safe workplace for your employees is not a simple task. It involves a comprehensive, dynamic safety program that adjusts to new risks, regular training, fostering a culture of safety, and leveraging available technology. As an independent insurance agent, I’ve seen firsthand how investing in safety can protect workers and save companies from financial hardship.

Take the first step in protecting your workforce and bottom line today. If you need further assistance or have any questions regarding workplace safety, feel free to reach out. Together, we can build a safer and more productive workplace.