Is Your Jobsite Safe or Just Lucky?

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By Paul Mashburn, GMB
Authorized OSHA Trainer

Paul mashburn

If one of your jobsites were visited today by a Compliance Safety and Health Officer would it qualify for a “Focused Inspection”?

A CSHO will be looking for violations and potential hazards. If you have:

  1. An effective written safety program, and
  2. A “designated competent person” responsible for and capable of implementing your safety program.

If you have these two, then you will be eligible to have a “focused inspection,” which is good news, because the inspection will concentrate on looking for violations in the four main hazards that cause approximately 90 percent of the workplace injuries in residential construction:

  1. “Falls” are the number one cause of death in the construction industry (33 percent).
  2. “Struck by” falling objects, vehicles, etc. is number two (22 percent).
  3. “Caught-in” or between, cave-ins, unguarded machinery, equipment (18 percent).
  4. “Electrical Shock” from overhead power lines, power tools, cords, wiring and outlets (17 percent).

The CSHO determines which projects are eligible for focused inspections. On those jobsites where it has been determined that there is inadequate contractor commitment to safety and health then a comprehensive, resource intensive inspection will be made. It is this group of employers that will receive OSHA’s (Office of Safety and Health Administration) full attention.

There is no magic to an effective safety and health program. It’s management and it starts at the top. It’s a “zero-accident” attitude that begins with the owner, or the front office and spreads through every employee of the company. Having a written safety and health program is the first step. It spells out the company’s commitment to safety and how their employees and trade partners are to behave on the job.

As builders, most of us have very few of our own employees on our jobsites, so why do we need to be concerned about compliance with OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry (29 CF PART 1926)?

OSHA holds accountable the employer who has exposed their employees to unsafe conditions, but also holds accountable the employer who has overall site safety responsibility (usually the builder), as well as the employer who may have caused the unsafe conditions. As the builder, you are responsible for safe working conditions for everyone on your jobsite; employees, trade partner employees, vendors, customers and invited visitors. So, for a single violation multi-citations may be issued to;

  • Creating Employer: that caused a hazardous condition.
  • Exposing Employer: whose own employees are exposed to the hazard.
  • Correcting Employer: responsible for correcting a hazard.
  • Controlling Contractor: usually the builder in charge of the job.

Simply stated, a builder may also receive a citation for a violation created by a trade partner, whether the builder caused the hazard or even knew about the hazard or not.

In the 2005-2006 year, records show there were 8,879 citations against general contractors versus 24,414 citations against trade contractors. Why is this important to know?

Willie Sutton’s response to the question of why he robbed banks was, “because that was where the money was.” Similar analogy; if approximately 3 of every 4

citations are issued to trade contractors, then our construction managers and superintendents should focus their attention on the trade contractors on their jobsites to insure their compliance with safety standards.

Many small building companies believe that writing a safety program is too hard and too time consuming. Unfortunately, the small volume builders yield the bulk of residential fatalities. Within the past seven years, 15 percent of the falls and scaffold or overhead power line fatalities occurred on weekends and over half of those fatalities occurred on Saturdays. As a result, OSHA is now randomly conducting inspections of construction sites operating on weekends.

Jobsite safety is not just about avoiding a citation from OSHA. It’s about avoiding hazards. It’s about making sure that you have an effective safety program in force within your company — no matter how big or small your company may be. It’s about knowing that your superintendents and construction managers are maintaining a safe, clean jobsite and that all your trade contractors and vendors use safe work practices. And finally, it’s about wanting to send everyone home at the end of the work day to their families, safe and injury free.

Paul Mashburn, GMB, is a Florida Licensed General Contractor and a real estate broker. His entire career has been in the construction industry, including management and supervisory positions on heavy commercial, public sector and military defense projects. Paul served as President of the FHBA in 1984 and was twice President of the HBA of Metro Orlando. In 1993, he was inducted into the Florida Housing Hall of Fame

Paul is an authorized instructor for OSHA Safety Compliance (both 10 and 30-hr) Training as well as courses through the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board, Florida Real Estate Commission and Designation Courses through NAHB.

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