As a construction professional, you likely know OSHA regulations like the back of your hand. You have to if you want your business to stay in compliance.
But accidents can, and do, happen; accidents that may or may not create some OSHA compliance regulation issues. Despite whether you have memorized the codes or not, you aren’t present for every project and can’t physically have eyes on everything that happens. That’s why it’s important to train your team. Train them in OSHA laws, in safety, and everything in between so that you can go nearly accident free.
To give you some perspective on the importance of all that training, here are the most costly OSHA construction fines over recent months.
February 2018: $281,286
Why: A roofing company failed to introduce safety hazards during six different projects. Specifically, they did not install fall protection systems, use protective devices, or train their workers in fall protection hazards.
January 2018: $281,583
Where: New Jersey
Why: A construction management company exposed employees to crushing hazards. A concrete block retaining wall was not designed or approved by a registered engineer. Because of this, the wall collapsed and killed a subcontractor working with the construction company. They were also cited for improper training on keeping safe distances from the wall and for failing to provide proper fall protection.
December 2017: $514,236
Why: Two injuries requiring surgery were sustained within the same month after a vinyl tile manufacturer failed to use proper lockout/tagout procedures. In addition, the company did not provide devices to prevent unintentional machine movement, did not train employees, and also exposed their employees to fall hazards.
November 2017: $1,837,861
Why: According to OSHA, “By failing to perform required maintenance on operating equipment and implementing a housekeeping program to control dust accumulations. Failure to shut down ignition sources, prevent static electricity discharge, provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees, correct malfunctioning dust collection systems, maintain equipment safety controls, and have an emergency alarm system.” These wrongdoings, plus lack of training, caused an explosion that killed five workers and injured 12 others.
October 2017: $201,354
Why: A masonry contractor was cited for knowingly allowing employees to work within 10 feet of energized and uninsulated electrical lines, not providing fall protection and using scaffolding without a secure base plate. These failures resulted in a fatal electrocution.
September 2017: $503,380
Why: Four separate workers suffered injuries resulting from improper machine lockout/tagout procedures. In addition, OSHA also found inadequate machine guarding on multiple pieces of equipment.
August 2017: $1,523,710
Why: There were 11 separate citations for failing to protect employees from fall hazards, and three repeat violations for failure to ensure all workers used eye protection while operating nail guns. This particular construction company has been investigated 12 times since 2012 and has been issued 22 total citations.
July 2017: $119,507
Why: Three men were killed after inhaling toxic gas in a manhole. According to OSHA, this was because of a failure to purge or ventilate the confined space prior to entry, exposing the workers to asphyxiation hazard, and not providing necessary rescue equipment. In addition, the citation included things like training and proper documentation on what to do during these situations.
We put together this list because we wanted to paint a real-life picture of what can happen if regulations aren’t followed. In some of these cases, it may have been a genuine unrealized oversight that led to an accident and a fine. We just felt it was important to show you the true costs (monetary and otherwise) of not being compliant and what OSHA looks for on jobsites.
So just stay within the lines, understand your OSHA obligations, and you, your employees, and your company will stay safe.
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