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OSHA Regulations for Construction Workers

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Construction is a dangerous occupation. There are many hazards on a construction site that can put a worker’s health and safety at risk. When there’s a construction accident, workers can be left with serious injuries that are sometimes life changing. They often need extensive medical treatment and are left unable to work.

In accordance with federal law, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed a set of standards that all employers must follow. These standards are designs to prevent workers from being seriously injured or killed in an accident at the workplace.

But employers do not always follow these standards. OSHA compliance officers conduct inspection of workplaces every year, and every year they discover numerous violations.

These were the top 10 violations of OSHA standards in 2021:

Fall Protection – General Requirements (Standard 1926.501)

Employers are required to provide fall protection systems to workers who have to perform tasks high off the ground. These requirements are designed to protect workers who will be on horizontal or vertical surfaces with an unprotected side or edge above 6 feet. Types of fall protection systems include guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems, or a combination. Employers must also properly supervise workers to help reduce the risk of falls.

Respiratory Protection (Standard 1910.134)

Employers must provide respiratory protection to workers exposed to harmful substances such as dust, smoke, gas and chemical vapors in the workplace. Employers must first provide workers with a medical evaluation to determine if a workers can use a respirator. Facepiece respirators must be testing to ensure they are tight-fitting. They must also establish a written respiratory protection program and providing training to workers on the proper fit, usage, and maintenance of respirators.

Ladders (Standard 1926.1053)

This standard addresses requirements for ladders used on the job. When portable ladders are used, side rails must extend at least 3 feet above the upper landing surface, or the ladder must be secured to a rigid support. Ladders should only be used for their designed purpose. The top or top step of a stepladder should not be used, and employees should not carry objects or loads up a ladder if they could lose their balance. In addition, ladders should only be used on stable and level surfaces.

Scaffolding (Standard 1026.451)

The design and construction of scaffolding set up for workers who do their jobs off of the ground must meet safety requirements. Workers on scaffolds more than 10 feet above ground must have fall protection. A point of access (such as certain types of ladders, stair towers, ramps, or walkways) must be used for platforms more than 2 feet above or below another level. Proper support equipment must be used, and each platform must be fully planked. Guardrail systems must also be installed properly.

Hazard Communication (Standard 1910.1200)

This standard addresses the chemical hazards workers face on the job and the communication of those hazards (such as flammability and carcinogenicity). Employers are required to develop, implement, and maintain a written hazard communication program, and provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in the workplace. They must maintain copies of the Safety Data Sheets for each of these hazardous chemicals and ensure the chemicals are clearly labeled or marked.

Lockout/Tagout (Standard 1910.147)

Employers are required to take steps to protect workers who service or maintain machines or equipment that can release hazardous energy (examples of hazardous energy include electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic), which could lead to injury. “Lockout/tagout” refers to steps that are taken to make sure machines or equipment are completely shut down and remain inoperable until the work is completed. Employers must establish energy control procedures, train workers on these procedures, and conduct periodic inspections.

Fall Protection – Training Requirements (Standard 1926.503)

This standard addresses training requirements regarding fall protection for workers. Types of fall protection include guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems. The employer must provide a program to train workers to recognize falling hazards and which procedures to follow to minimize those hazards. The employer must keep a written certification record of this training. If an employer has reason to believe a worker does not understand fall protection procedures, retraining must be provided.

Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (Standard 1926.102)

Employers are required to provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect them from eye or face hazards. These hazards include flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapor, and even light radiation. Types of PPE include eye protection with side protection when needed, as well as eye protection that works with workers who wear prescription lenses.

Powered Industrial Trucks (Standard 1910.178)

This standard addresses the safe use of powered industrial trucks such as forklifts and motorized hand trucks. It applies to the design, maintenance, and operation of powered industrial trucks. An employer must certify that workers who operate these trucks are trained and evaluated, and refresher training is also required. The trucks must be examined regularly, at least once a day. Any problems or defects found must be immediately reported and corrected.

Machine Guarding (Standard 1926.503)

When workers do their jobs with or near machines, employers must set up guarding to protect against injury. Machinery hazards can be created by ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. Machines that are designed to be at a fixed location must be securely anchored. Guards must be attached to the machine wherever possible or secured elsewhere if it is not possible to attach to the machine. Blades of fans must be guarded when less than 7 feet off the floor of working level.

When employers violate OSHA standards, workers are put at risk. Too often, there is an accident that leaves them seriously hurt. When a third party committed the violation, injured workers may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a lawsuit.

It’s important to consult an experienced New York City construction accident attorney as soon as possible if you were injured in a workplace accident. Attorney Pat James Crispi knows how to build strong cases that get results. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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