Job site safety must be a contractor’s top priority. Work-related injuries increase an employer’s costs through fines, increased insurance premiums, and lost time. If there’s a major incident, the employer can also face legal battles and damaged business relationships.
Since contractors have the ultimate responsibility for workplace safety, the best protection is to follow all prescribed standards. Contractors can take a proactive safety approach, committing their safety values into a health and safety program based on the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) regulations.
By developing and enforcing robust health and safety policies, the OSHA regulations can protect contractors from work-related injury risks by:
* Providing a uniform set of safety standards. This creates a firm foundation for a contractor’s occupational health and safety policy.
- * Pinpointing the areas associated with injuries. It helps contractors quickly evaluate risks.
- * Outlining required certifications. Placing employees only in positions they are qualified for reduces the risk of injury.
* Prescribing required personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE provides a physical barrier to hazards, further minimizing the risk of a work-related injury.
Here are a few specific examples of how OSHA regulations can protect a contractor from work-related injury.
Preventing Work-Related Falls
OSHA standard 1926 outlines the requirements for working at heights and fall protection. Every contractor has a duty to provide fall protection for their workers, and with good reason. Falls are one of the most common causes of serious work-related injury and death. Although fall protection equipment stops an employee from dropping onto a hazard, the fall arrest system itself is not without risks. The best way contractors can protect themselves from work-related falls is to ensure workers don’t fall in the first place.
OSHA fall protection regulations state employers must provide barriers around open holes, and guardrails around open, elevated platforms. These same guardrails must be in place if a worker is performing their duties over a hazard, such as machinery. Specific heights require a full fall arrest system.
By ensuring your employees are properly trained and following up to make sure the standards are being met on the job site, you can prevent fall-related injuries from happening.
Preventing Work-Related Eye Injuries
Flying debris, splintering wood, improper tool or chemical use and welding dangers such optical radiation and spatter can all cause work-related blindness. Sometimes safety glasses are sufficient, while in others, specialty face shields are the only suitable protection.
OSHA standard 1926.102 outlines the eye protection for various scenarios, including the specific filter lenses for different welding operations. By following the eye and face protection standards, you can easily comply with OSHA and minimize your risk of work-related injuries.
Chemical Hazards Resulting in Work-Related Injuries
This is one of the easiest OSHA regulations to meet, but one of the most overlooked: you must tell your employees about all the hazardous chemicals on a job site. OSHA updated this standard so that workers not only have the right to know about the chemicals they work with, but also the right to understand how they work and what the risks are.
Chemical injuries include poisoning, burns, blindness, lung damage, neurological problems, and cancer. These injuries can be eliminated by telling your employees about the chemicals they are working with, how to use them, and what PPE they must wear when performing their duties.
In addition to informing and training employees, contractors must provide manufacturer labels on all products and maintain up-to-date safety data sheets.
How Does OSHA Enforce Its Standards?
Every activity from basic job site cleaning, to required heavy equipment construction certifications, to dangerous demolition has its own standards. OSHA enforces the regulations by prioritizing “Imminent danger situations” and major incidents like severe injuries or death. There is also a strong mechanism for worker’s rights, so OSHA also prioritizes worker complaints, resulting in unannounced compliance audits.
These situations show a contractor did not have or enforce OSHA regulations in their own safety programs. The resulting losses from not protecting yourself from work-related injuries doesn’t make financial sense when the requirements are readily available and actionable. This is a case where minimizing risk offers the greatest reward.
Protect Your Business
It’s clear from these few examples that OSHA’s requirements for health and safety keep the worker injury-free, but also protect the contractor from work-related injuries and the associated costs. Using OSHA’s guidance to create your safety policies protects your bottom line.
It can be overwhelming to develop a system that incorporates the comprehensive OSHA standards. But a contractor who puts together solid health and safety policies can prevent work-related injuries and minimize risks. If you’re ready to protect your business, contact SafetyPro Resources to develop your safety systems today.