It feels like Cal/OSHA is issuing new rules daily and making changes to existing ones, ostensibly with the intent of helping owners provide the safest work environments possible.
In 2016, OSHA issued a final rule on occupational exposure to crystalline silica as well as final regulations to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses and to update eye and face protection to meet current consensus standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In addition to those final rules, OSHA is also planning to issue a proposed rule for crane operator qualifications in construction as well as a proposed rule to make some clerical corrections to the crane and derricks in construction standards.
To remain compliant with standards, you need to stay up to date with all the rulemaking changes that will impact your business. There is always a window of time for the public to respond to any proposed rulemaking with written arguments or evidence for or against a proposed rule as well as request a public hearing if one isn’t already scheduled. ake your voice heard if a possible rule could negatively impact your business.
Go Above and Beyond the Standards
Think of adhering to Cal/OSHA standards as the bare minimum to stay compliant. Just doing enough to stay compliant can lead to complacency. To truly have an effective safety program you should be going above and beyond the rules laid out by the agency.
This doesn’t mean you have to make sweeping changes to your existing safety program or policy. Take a look at what you are currently doing and determine if there are measures or procedures you can implement to improve worker safety. Repeated accidents involving the same type of work activity is probably an indicator that your safety program needs some improvement.
Hold Everyone Accountable
Jobsite safety is the responsibility of every worker, not just your safety managers. Again, this starts at the top and goes all the way down to your project managers and site supervisors to skilled workers and your laborers. Empower your employees to speak up if they notice an unsafe work environment or hazard. Employees shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to tell a superior or a coworker to put their hard hat on or to quit using the power tool with the frayed power cord.
If you are a general contractor this means holding your subs accountable for following your safety requirements. Reviewing a subcontractor’s safety policies and procedures along with their safety record should be a part of your prequalification process. Make it clear to everyone working on the project that they will be held to the same high safety standards that you hold your own employees too.
Regular Inspections Create a Culture of Safety
Frequent, regular inspections of the job site are vital to ensuring your safety plan and the program is effective. Create a safety audit checklist for each job and make notes as you perform the inspection. Spend some time observing workers make sure they are working safely and productively.
Have a camera or smartphone on hand to document any areas that may require additional safeguards or controls. Take time to chat with employees to discuss any safety concerns they may and address them accordingly. Regular safety inspections reinforce your company’s commitment to safety and along with the other tips allow you to create a culture of safety.
When accidents do occur, be sure to conduct a thorough investigation so you can uncover the root of the problem. Typically when an accident occurs the cause is either inadequate training or where an employee didn’t retain the information they were taught.
Never Stop Improving
Your company may already have a top-notch safety program in place, but there’s always room for improvement. The first of the year is the perfect time to evaluate your current program. Take stock of what’s working well as well as areas that may need some revision. Be sure to get all your employees involved in the process. Your workers are the ones on the job site day-in-and-day-out and are best suited to help identify deficiencies in your safety program and offer suggestions for improvement.
By Kendall Jones, Construction Market Data