Whether your construction team is considered large or small, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a force that makes a lasting difference in the nation’s workers each day (even those not involved in physical labor). As temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic area plummet, I’m reminded of the safety precautions JH Greene takes to ensure workers are safe. The following is some background on OSHA for those looking to become a bit more resilient in this space—trust us, it’s worth it.
Although injuries are inevitable, often people question the effectiveness of the administration as injuries still occur. This begs the question – why is OSHA still necessary in 2019?
The experts explain that as long as workplaces exist, OSHA has a relevance. The continual research and discovery of OSHA promotes new laws and consistent exploration of the safest working conditions possible, no matter what your office surroundings look like. Emergency preparation, workplace injury law, safety guides, and a means to report unsafe situations are all mandated and overseen by OSHA.
A lot of the push back received originates from cost concerns of maintaining an active safety program and the tools required to apply these requirements to daily work. In response to this, OSHA recognizes the cost of their attention on unnecessary jobs, given the agency’s small size. In a recent testimony, OSHA stated that they “don’t ever wish to waste taxpayer dollars, or employers’ valuable time. OSHA’s penalty system takes into account the size and behavior of employers, with higher fines for repeated and willful violations, and substantial discounts for small employers.”
Across the 40 years since OSHA was established, work-related injuries have been drastically reduced. Directly from OSHA’s website, the following timeline highlights some recent milestones in the organization’s history:
Cranes and Derricks Standard
Established August 2010
OSHA issues a historic new rule, which replaces a 40-year-old standard, designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities among crane and derrick operators. This rule affects more than 250,000 worksites, which employ about 4.8 million workers, and is expected to prevent 22 fatalities and 175 non-fatal injuries each year.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program Initiative
Established June 2010
OSHA proposes an initiative to require employers to implement a systematic program to help them find the safety and health hazards in their workplace and fix them. This initiative follows the lead of 15 states, such as California and Minnesota that have already implemented such programs.
Falls in General Industry
Established May 2010
OSHA issues a walking/working surface safety proposal to improve worker protection from falls, the leading cause of work-related injuries and death. Reducing falls in the workplace is expected to prevent about 20 fatalities and 3,500 serious injuries annually.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Established April 2010
BP Oil’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig experiences a catastrophic explosion, killing 11 workers, and resulting in an unprecedented oil spill. OSHA works as part of the coordinated federal response, making over 4,200 site visits to ensure that BP and its contractors are protecting workers involved in the cleanup of health and safety hazards. To ensure that workers are not inhaling dangerous levels of hazardous chemicals, OSHA takes over 7,000 independent air samples at clean-up areas both on and off-shore, and reviews over 90,000 air samples taken by other federal agencies and BP.
Instituting new rules and initiatives has been a big driver of impact over the years. The previous accomplishments are only a small glimpse into this impact.
Regardless of a firm’s size, construction safety is a concern for all. With everything at stake, a little preparation can go a long way. Through the guidance of OSHA, this continuous effort is a whole lot easier.