OSHA Guidelines & Construction Safety 101

Construction Workers with Helmets and Masks

If you work in the construction industry, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about OSHA. OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is a government agency.

OSHA’s Mission is to:

“With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

Workplace Requirements in the OSHA Standards Booklet

The Training Requirements in OSHA Standards booklet is over 250 pages. It’s page after page of regulations and safety measures every workplace should have in place to protect their employees. OSHA believes that no person should become ill, injured, or die for a paycheck. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 reads:

“To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health.”

OSHA Safety Standards for Construction Sites

There are specific guidelines for many workplaces, but no workplace is quite covered as much in the guidelines as a construction site. From hazardous materials, powered platforms and manlifts, to welding, fire protection, and more -- there’s a safety regulation for almost all areas of a worksite. We’ll begin to only scratch the surface of the top OSHA safety requirements for a construction site here:

What Are the Major OSHA Safety Requirements?

The top reason workers are injured on a worksite is because of a fall. Typically they’re not just a slip and fall accident but a fall from great heights. Falls consistently rank as the top reason for fatalities in the construction industry. There are many guidelines and posters available from OSHA which cover how to prevent falls that can be posted at a work site. Here’s one about falls from scaffolding:

Illustration of Scaffold Accident Prevention

Source: OSHA Fall Prevention Fact Sheet

Some of the more frequently known OSHA Standards are their emergency action plans, fire prevention plans, their fall protection program, first aid, and operating procedures. These are standard across almost every workplace, construction or not, and are often the ones that get the most focus. You may have seen signs posted in communal spaces, as well as being required to attend safety training for each of the above-mentioned plans.

Even though those standard programs get the most focus, it doesn’t mean the other standards and procedures are any less important. Unfortunately, the top most violated OSHA standards all are somewhat related to the construction industry.

How Do I Know if My Worksite Isn’t Following Proper Safety Procedures?

OSHA shared a list in 2004 of common hazard violations and solutions within the construction field. These are the 10 OSHA standards with the highest frequency of citations:

  1. Scaffolding

  2. Fall protection (scope, application, definitions)

  3. Excavations (general requirements)

  4. Ladders

  5. Head protection

  6. Excavations (requirements for protective systems)

  7. Hazard communication

  8. Fall protection (training requirements)

  9. Construction (general safety and health provisions)

  10. Electrical (wiring methods, design and protection)

If you have not received training on the above, or find that some of the above have been previous issues at your worksite, there’s a chance that your workplace management is in violation of the law. If your worksite has recently received an OSHA violation, management is required to post the notice near where violations have occurred. OSHA has six different types of violations, each with a different severity or penalty.

Serious violations can result in injury, serious harm, or death. It’s crucial that employers supply the necessary equipment to their workers and contractors. If they’re not, they can face serious consequences, including fines, lawsuits, or even a shutdown.

If you or someone you know was recently injured on a construction site, contact Loscalzo & Loscalzo, P.C. online or call us at (646) 846-4776 to discuss your case with one of our personal injury attorneys today.