Construction Safety and OSHA Violations
What is Construction Safety and OSHA?
Construction safety consists of safety procedures and protocols that protect the workers and the construction site. Construction safety aims to ensure that the construction site is not the cause of immediate danger to the public or the workers, as well as making sure that the finished product of construction meets safety standards. While the initial reason for improving construction safety is to comply with workplace safety regulations (like OSHA), there are major benefits for improving safety, like reducing the number of workplace injuries, which can be costly for the injury itself and the cost of losing an employee for a period of time.
OSHA stands for “Occupational Safety and Health Administration” and their mission is to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” (About OSHA webpage). OSHA was created as a part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Just for construction alone, OSHA has thousands of regulations for every niche in the construction industry, from fire protection to tower cranes.
Who Needs to Comply with OSHA?
Generally, every employer is required to comply with OSHA regulations. However, there are different standards for different industries: general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture. General industry seemingly covers everything that is not in the other industries. Therefore, virtually all employers and businesses are subject to OSHA regulations, it just depends on what kind of regulations.
How to Comply with OSHA?
It is difficult to comply with every single OSHA regulation, and most of the time, OSHA employees could find violations if they really wanted to. It is impossible to expect contractors to read all of the regulations under construction to be compliant with OSHA. However, OSHA does provide resources to help compliance with regulations, such as letters of interpretation, which OSHA provides when there is vagueness or ambiguity in their regulations. One of the best resources OSHA provides is the Compliance Assistance Quick Start, which jumps into regulations that are required in your industry.
It is very important to become OSHA compliant because OSHA investigators usually don’t need to give advanced notice of an inspection and can come unannounced. Once an investigator arrives on site, the employer might designate an employee representative to walk with the investigator around the site. Then the investigator will do a “walkaround” to check safety and health hazards, which involves observing practices and speaking with employees. After the walkaround, the investigator is required to have a closing conference to discuss apparent violations, ways to correct hazards, and possible fines.
How to Resolve OSHA Violations
An OSHA violation occurs when a company or employer willingly or unknowingly ignores safety regulations. OSHA violations can be extremely costly for the average construction worker. Violations can run up to $15,625 per violations and if OSHA has determined that it was willful or repeated, then it is $156,259 per violation. Once an investigator has inspected the premise, the investigator can issue citations and financial penalties for violating specific standards. OSHA must generally issue any citations within six months of the occurrence of any violation.
As one can imagine, these can be career ending violations that put you in debt. Unfortunately, OSHA is a division of the Federal government, which gives them governmental immunity from lawsuits. The only way for OSHA to be sued is if they waive that right.
Benefits of Forcing Construction Safety Measures
There are many benefits to implementing safety measures, whether they be OSHA requirements or not. One of the biggest benefits of adhering to safety measures is avoiding the heavy fees. The other benefit is a reduction in workplace injuries, as OSHA regulations actually tend to reduce injuries to workers. Although safety precautions may be tedious an time consuming, the benefits of a implementing safety precautions greatly outweigh the costs.
In any event, it is extremely important to comply with OSHA regulations, not solely for the chance of a violation, but also to protect your employees as health and safety are critical to an effective construction site. The attorneys of RAK Law firm are reputable construction litigation lawyers who fight for their client’s rights, as well as offering a myriad of other legal services. If you have any questions or concerns arising from construction safety and OSHA violations, please do not hesitate to contact us at (407)-437-0319.
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