Basic Overview of OSHA Regulations for Construction Sites

Basic Overview of OSHA Regulations for Construction Sites

Thousands of people yearly are injured or die on construction sites around the country. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created more than 50 years ago to ensure as few incidents as possible. The purpose of this authority is to mandate safety standards for workplaces so that employees can go to work in the safest environment possible, whether in a quiet office or a bustling construction site. 

By its very nature, construction is a dangerous industry. Heavy equipment, sharp objects, tripping hazards, heights, and any hazardous situations could occur. The OSHA provides regulations and standards to minimize and mitigate those risks to protect workers. Here is a basic overview of OSHA regulations relating to construction sites. 

Heights and Fall Prevention

As you can imagine, working from heights is very common on construction sites and presents a unique set of risks. As a result, OSHA has several guidelines about safely working from heights to keep workers and the general public safe. For instance, scaffolding must be able to hold four times its weight safely. On top of that, it must have guardrails and toeboards to prevent falling over. 

The OSHA also has guidelines for working near power lines which can pose a severe risk to someone working from heights. They also have safety standards for every type of ladder used on a site. This includes how to secure them properly and how to climb on and off of them. Stairways on construction sites must have proper hand and guardrails and be debris-free. Nothing can be stored on stairways, including at the top and the bottom. If a stairway gets wet, it must be cleaned immediately to prevent slips and falls. 

Electrocution

Electrocution is another major cause of injury and death on construction sites. Therefore, workers must be conscientious when dealing with any appliances or exposed wiring while on the job. As part of their guidelines, OSHA mandates that no worker can access or work on electrical circuits and outlets until the power is cut and the ground wires are attached. Also, any damaged wiring has to be replaced immediately. This includes power cords. 

Tools that require electricity to operate must be inspected regularly. If a possible defect is concerned, it must be repaired or disposed of immediately. Do not use a tool that may have frayed or damaged electrical components. Any equipment, including ladders and materials, must be at least 10 feet away from electrical power lines. 

Communication

Communication among construction workers is a big part of OSHA’s safety guidelines. This means that workers must talk and communicate with each other, and management must make sure that all employees have safety training and reminders. In addition, there must always be an MSDS data sheet on-site if dangerous chemicals are present. It must be easily and quickly accessible by anyone on the site, not just management. 

Any possible hazards on the job site must be efficiently communicated to workers. For example, upon discovering an unsafe condition, or a chemical, management must let everyone know about the danger and provide the steps to avoid it. 

Waste Management

Loose waste can be a dangerous component of any construction site. The OSHA has several guidelines to make sure that removing waste to keep the job site safe and clean is done properly. For example, if you work more than 20 feet from the ground, any material waste you produce must be dropped to the ground using an enclosed slide or a similar implement. If you are dropping waste through the floor to the level below, the drop zone area must be marked and blocked off to prevent someone from walking underneath. In addition, using disposal equipment will make disposal more efficient and safer for workers. For example, self dumping hoppers can hold a large amount of waste, are moved easily using a forklift or other lifting equipment, and can be emptied without requiring human hands to touch the disposed of material. 

Personal Protective Equipment

Employers are responsible for making sure that all employees have the right personal protective equipment for their jobs. Every job has different risks, but some common basics are required. This includes protection from head injuries by wearing a hard hat while on the job site. In addition, debris can fall from above, or a worker could trip and fall. 

If working with heavy machinery, operators must also have proper hearing protection to avoid hearing loss over time. All workers should have protective work boots or shoes; some may even need leg and shin padding for their work. Due to the risk of flying debris, sparks, and wood chips, all workers must have eye protection in the form of goggles, shields, or both. 

Safety is paramount. If your staff isn’t safe on the job, there will be injuries, productivity issues, and staffing problems. Besides, it looks unprofessional to any partners, clients, or the general public that might be interested in what you are doing. So ensure you keep your workers safe with the OSHA’s guidelines and regulations. 

Basic Overview of OSHA Regulations for Construction Sites
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Basic Overview of OSHA Regulations for Construction Sites
BDC August 2022 issue - 295

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