It happened in New York, and it could happen here in California. Dozens of inspectors went to various construction sites and found tens of thousands of violations. Many of them were related to safe practices and working conditions. Although you’re not likely to encounter an unexpected inspection during the course of your project, there’s good reason to be prepared. Here’s how you can ensure that everything is in order.
What Are Common Construction Violations?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps a list of the most common violations each year. Many of them, like communication about hazards and respiratory protection, apply to a variety of industries. For construction in particular, fall protection, scaffolding and ladders top the list. So besides making sure you’ve always got the right building permits for the project, safety needs to be your first priority when it comes to avoiding violations.
Who Can File a Safety Complaint?
Although contractors in New York were surprised by these unexpected inspections, California contractors need to be prepared at any time. Almost anyone on the jobsite can file a safety complaint to Cal/OSHA. This includes workers and employers. If someone sees a lack of safety procedures or dangerous activities happening at a particular site, they can call Cal/OSHA or email their complaint. The person who files the complaint is kept confidential so that they don’t face retribution.
What Happens if a Worker or Inspector Files a Safety Complaint?
Safety violations happen on occasion. There are a lot of rules to follow and in some cases, workers may not know that what they are doing is incorrect or risky. When someone files a complaint to Cal/OSHA, the department will follow up on the information they receive. If it appears to be accurate, they may issue a citation to the business. In order to clear the citation, businesses must post the citation for three working days or until it is corrected. They also have to submit proof that they fixed it and post that in the work area, as well.
How Can Contracting Businesses Avoid Violations?
In the short-term, there are many things that you can do to avoid having to deal with safety violations. Cal/OSHA publishes a variety of guides for construction businesses to follow. These include:
- learning safety regulations based on the task
- providing personal protective equipment to employees
- posting guidelines in a place that employees can easily access
- reporting serious workplace injuries or deaths as quickly as possible
When implementing a new program, business owners may want to use a safety checklist for each part of the jobsite. Having a site manager or other person in an overseeing capacity complete the checklist will help to confirm that the safe processes are not just understood, but followed consistently.
What Can Businesses Do to Prevent Unsafe Workspaces?
Ultimately, unsafe construction sites tend to be a combination of lack of information, limited availability of safety equipment and minimal incentive to follow the rules. Businesses may be required to send employees to regular safety training, to teach or reinforce safe procedures. Providing time each year for workers to get a refresh helps to ensure that they remember what to do.
Avoiding injury isn’t just about avoiding fines that may come from serious safety violations. As a contractor, you’ll often be as involved in the daily tasks of a project as any of your employees. Attention to safety can help keep you off of Cal/OSHA’s list, but it also protects you personally.
In construction, California businesses are always on show to prove that they provide a safe workplace. When you know what to do, you can avoid injury and violations that slow down your work. To begin building a safe contracting business, visit CSLS today!