OSHA Launches Campaign to Curb Construction Falls

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of construction deaths. In 2010, fatalities from falls accounted for 264 out of 774 deaths in the construction industry.

To curb such deaths and injuries, OSHA has joined forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). The Construction Nationwide Safety Awareness Campaign is comprehensive and based on three key steps for employers:

OSHAPlan for Safety. To ensure safety on job sites that involve working from heights, plan how the project will be done and the tools needed. When estimating job costs, include these resources and have them available on site. For example, on a roofing job, think about such potential fall hazards – holes, sky-light, leading edges, etc. – and then select appropriate fall protection equipment, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

Provide Proper Equipment. Provide workers who are six feet or more above lower levels with fall protection and the necessary equipment including ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. If roof work is involved, have a PFAS with a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the device fits and inspect all equipment regularly.

Train Workers. Finally, give workers “toolbox talk” training on potential fall hazards and the set-up and use of the safety equipment they’ll be using. The OSHA campaign has a number of training tools, job site posters, and other educational resources – (many of which target workers with limited English proficiency).

To learn more about how to keep your workers from falling down (literally) on the job, feel free to get in touch with our construction insurance specialists.

OSHA UPDATE: SPFs, Haz-Com, and Fall Protection

oshaOur friend Mark Paskell (the Contractor Coach) recently posted an OSHA update that contained information that all contractors should be aware of. We’re going to give you a brief overview of the three things he covered here, but we encourage you to visit his website and read the complete article for yourself.

New National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Isocyanates (Spray Foam Insulation)

With aggressive new energy codes and an increased focus on green building methods, the use of spray foam insulation (SPF) has increased significantly. Given the potential hazards associated with SPF application, it’s more important than ever that contractors ensure those using them are properly certified and trained to safely apply SPFs (and this must be documented).  See Mark’s article for more specifics on this NEP, issued June 25, 2013.

Global Harmonized System (Hazardous Communication)

OSHA has revised the Hazard Communication Standard so that it is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classifications and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). There are several changes, from classifications and labeling to a new safety data sheet, but the most important change for you to be aware of is that employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format.

Fall Protection

While ropes and harnesses are becoming more common on job sites, fall protection is still the number one cited OSHA violation. OSHA has shifted its focus from outreach and education about fall protection to enforcement of the guidelines.  Non-compliance is not only dangerous; it can be costly as well.

If you have any questions about keeping your business compliant with OSHA, don’t hesitate to contact our Construction Insurance specialist, Tom Messier. He’ll be happy to address your concerns and help you nail down the protection your business requires.

Fall Protection – v-Tool from OSHA

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. It’s vital that contractors set up work places that minimize the risk of employees falling. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of six feet in the construction industry, and also that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

To aid contractors in compliance, OSHA has developed several tools. Below is a safety video they have put together, specifically geared at scaffolding hazards.

10-Hour OSHA Certification Course

We cannot stress enough how vital OSHA training can be to your business. If you’ve not already done so, think about reserving your spot in the upcoming OSHA 10-Hour Certification Course. The training will be split into two sessions: Wed, March 28 and Wed, April 11th – each from 4:00 to 9:30pm with dinner included. The course fee for BAGB Members is $220, and $260 for Non-Members.  

Topics covered include:

Introduction to OSHA
General Safety & Health Provisions
Fall Protection
Personal Protective & Lifesaving Equipment
Materials Handling, Storage, Use & Disposal
Hand & Power Tools
Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Elevators & Conveyors
Stairways & Ladders

Course Fee includes 10 hours of training, all handouts, a copy of OSHA Standards for Construction 29 CFR Part 1926, dinner both nights, and certification card of completion from OSHA. For more info, visit the BAGB website.

MA Contractor Fined $42,000 for Violations

In a citation issued just over a week ago, a Reading, MA contractor is facing a proposed $42,000 in fines for 10 alleged serious violations of safety standards at a Topsfield worksite for exposing workers to fall hazards. The violations include:

Failing to provide personal fall protection
Failing to train workers to recognize fall hazards
Failing to provide head and eye protection
Failing to properly set up, secure and inspect ladders for damage.

Additionally, an improperly erected scaffold had damaged components, exceeded the maximum allowable height of 20 feet and had not been inspected for defects prior to the start of work.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. If there was a question before about the enforcement of the Fall Protection Guidelines, there shouldn’t be now. It is vital that all contractors take the steps necessary to protect their workers and put effective fall protection measures in place.

Detailed information on scaffolding and fall hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/index.html and http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/construction.html, and as always, we’re here to answer your questions and provide direction. Stay safe!