Construction workers face some of the harshest and most dangerous working conditions in the entire American workforce. They are one of the top occupations for workplace injuries because of the hazards construction workers have to deal with on a regular basis. Just a few of those hazards include falls, heavy machinery, asbestos, and electrocution. The construction industry is hazardous by design but there are OSHA standards for construction safety that must be followed in order to operate. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed by Congress to lessen the effect of workplace injuries and hazards. It authorized the formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of the Department of Labor. OSHA now defines strict health and safety standards that apply to workplaces in all 50 states, the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, and all federal government territories.
General Industry Standards
The general industry standards for health and safety set by OSHA are located in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, detailed in Part 1910, sections 1910.1 through 1910.1450. These particular standards describe the physical requirements of a workplace, including walking surfaces, exit routes, and emergency plans, as well as specific activities, including using power tools, welding, and brazing. OSHA’s general industry standards apply to multiple fields, including construction, manufacturing, agriculture, maritime, and medicine.
Construction Industry Standards
On top of general industry standards, OSHA also mandates safety standards for three specific industries: construction, maritime, and agriculture. Employers in the construction industry must comply with these additional standards, as well as the general industry standards that apply to all other businesses. There are many specific construction industry standards employers need to know about, including:
- Housekeeping Requirements: Construction companies are responsible for specific housekeeping tasks. Debris from the construction site, including scrap lumber, nails, and screws, must be cleared away from all work areas, stairs, and walking paths. Any debris that could catch fire or explode must be removed at regular intervals throughout the course of the construction project to keep workers safe. Appropriate, approved waste containers should be provided for the collection of all materials and scraps.
- Machine Operation: To operate equipment and heavy machinery, employees must have the appropriate training. This is for their own safety and the safety of others on the worksite.
- Personal Protective Equipment: Employers are required to provide appropriate, well-maintained personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. Employers are also responsible for training their employees to properly use that PPE so they can stay safe while working. Employees must use their PPE whenever they are in a situation in which they can come into contact with hazards that could cause them harm.
- Fire Protection: Under OSHA guidelines, employers are required to create and implement a complete fire protection and prevention plan. This plan should cover the entire timeline of construction and demolition and should provide all the necessary firefighting equipment needed to implement the plan. Firefighting equipment should be easy to access and readily available at all times. It must also be inspected regularly.
It is an employer’s responsibility to stay in compliance with all OSHA standards. There should be frequent safety walkthroughs and inspections of the jobsite to make sure all standards are being met. There are many standards to navigate, and it may seem like a difficult task, but your employer is legally required to keep up with these regulations to keep workers safe from potential devastating accidents.
Houston Construction Accident Attorneys
Construction accident victims and their loved ones understand firsthand the toll a construction-related injury can have. Every worker has the right to a safe workplace, free of immediate dangers. Additionally, all employees have the right to feel safe and protected while performing their jobs; and, no employee should fear reporting an employer’s negligence for fear of retaliation. Workers have legal rights and options. If you or a loved one was injured in a construction-related accident while on the job in Texas, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There is limited time to act following a Texas workplace injury, so don’t delay contacting us to discuss your case.