The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently issued Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programmes in Construction with the aim of helping and guiding industry employers in developing proactive and engaging programs for keeping workplaces safe. The new recommendations have been especially designed with small- and medium-sized contractors in mind, who may not employ OSH specialists.
Proactive OSH programmes encourage finding and fixing workplace hazards before they cause injuries, illnesses and deaths. Their effective implementation can not only save lives, but also translate into financial savings that could otherwise arise as a result of such events for workers, their families and their employers.
Current conditions in the construction industry are reflected within the document and include:
- New construction techniques, materials, and equipment
- Greater diversity in the construction workforce
- An aging workforce and the rise of sedentary lifestyle
- Increased temporary and contract employment
Contractors can address these factors by: training workers on how to identify and control hazards; inspecting the jobsite/conducting ‘walk-arounds’ (with workers) to identify problems with equipment and materials; and creating documented contingency plans to possible emergency scenarios.
Brenig Moore, Technical Director at Astutis commented:
“The construction industry has long been seen as one of the most dangerous industries to work in globally and there has worryingly been a certain feeling of inevitability to the occurrence of incidents within this sector. However, as business leaders wake up to the financial savings that can be made by inspiring a culture of safety within their organisations, we will continue to see a trend of reduced accidents and incidents. This new document will help to provide a focus to SME’s (without specialist safety practitioners on staff) on the importance of good occupational safety in the course of their working day.”
The recommended practices are flexible and can be adjusted to suit both small and large construction companies handling short or longer term projects. Other benefits intrinsic to a good safety and health programme include improvements in production and quality; employee morale; staff recruitment and retention; and improved business reputation.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said:
"The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable."
The recommendations are advisory and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.
Read the full document here: https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/docs/8524_OSHA_Construction_Guidelines_R4.pdf