OSHA Construction Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to ensure that all working environments are safe for employees. Once OSHA Construction Standards were established, workplace deaths, injuries, and illnesses were dramatically reduced. The administration continues to work with states to identify safety hazards and health risks, then finds ways to eliminate those to safeguard workplaces.
While the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 covers general industry when it comes to overall safety, there are safety standards that are specific to construction work. For example, general industry standards might include personal protective equipment. OSHA safety regulations include personal fall arrest systems for construction, but maybe not for some commercial applications.
OSHA Construction Standards
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for OSHA Construction Standards is encompassed in Title 29, CFR Part 1926. This section helps spell out which regulations are required for all construction job sites. Obviously, not all codes will be followed at every site because they just aren’t applicable.
For example, not all construction sites will require blasting while just about any site will involve material handling, electrical work, and signs or signals. This section of the OSHA “playbook” is quite extensive, so we’ll touch on a few of the more prevalent passages. As a project manager, however, we recommend becoming familiar with all regulations.
- Fall protection. OSHA mandates state that there must be protection for employees that are walking or working on a vertical or horizontal surface that has an unprotected side or an edge that is six feet or more above a lower level. Options generally include personal fall protection systems, guardrails, or safety nets.
- Confined space. This standard protects employees that are working in an area that has at least one confined space. This doesn’t include underground construction, excavations, or diving projects.
- Fire extinguishers. Portable fire extinguishers should be available for employees, in the event that a workplace fire occurs. They should also be inspected, tested, or recharged on a regular basis to ensure they work when needed.
- Ladders and stairways. Employees must be trained on using ladders and stairways properly. In addition, ladders that are on slippery surfaces need to be secure and stable and should not be moved while workers are using them. Top steps and caps should not be used as steps and should never be used on unstable bases. If the ladders are being used to climb 24 feet or more, ladders should be fixed and equipped with self-retracting lifelines, and a ladder safety device that could be a body harness, carrier, or safety sleeve. In addition, there should be a rest platform available for the worker.
- Signs, Signals, and Barricades. If the workplace has a hazard associated with it, accident prevention signs must be posted and visible at all times until the hazard is clear. Signage should also be prominent if hazardous materials are present, either in storage or if carried by pipelines.
- Light. Construction sites have specific light requirements associated with them. Light meters are often used to ensure that the illumination levels are correct. Details for specific illumination requirements for construction can be found by reading standard 1926.56.
- Eyewashes. If employees are working in a battery-changing area, eyewash stations and body-flushing facilities must be available within 25-feet of that area.
The costs of workplace injuries in the construction industry are staggering. Reports list that construction accidents, injuries, and deaths lead to nearly $13 billion worth of loss annually. Construction accounts for around 20 percent of workplace deaths but covers just five percent of the workforce in the United State.
Just imagine the numbers if OSHA codes and regulations weren’t in place. Those costs include lost productivity, man-hours, settlements, and so forth. Not to mention the psychological impact serious injury or death have on the workforce where those incidents took place.
Accidents happen – there’s no way around it. But if you can mitigate those accidents through safety audits, doesn’t it at least make sense to investigate? As your plant safety contractor, Storee will review your facility for safety concerns and complete safety upgrades with limited plant interruption.
Safety upgrades could include proper signage, installations of safety handrails or guardrails, and ensuring overhead walkways are secure. Making sure your equipment is well-maintained to prevent failure and process reviews to improve efficiency while increasing safety are other steps you can take to make your facility safer.
At Storee Construction, the safety of our employees and our customers is of utmost importance. That’s why we ensure that our worksites adhere to OSHA standards. Contact us today if you have questions about plant safety or to learn more about our service offerings.