The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) report for fiscal year 2015 recorded a staggering 4,379 deaths in private industry. Construction alone counted 937 deaths, which adds up to 21% or one in five worker deaths. Another 100,000+ construction workers are seriously injured on the job every year.
Top Four Causes of Fatalities in Construction
Of the deaths in construction, four causes made up 64% of the deaths:
- Falls, 364
- Struck by an object, 90
- Caught-in/between an object, 67
Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards Violations
For the fiscal year 2016, OSHA ranked the violations of the top standards. Numbers one, three, and seven on the list specifically address construction.
- Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
- Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction(29 CFR 1926.451)
- Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/Tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
- Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
- Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
- Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)
- Electrical, wiring methods, components, and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)
- Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)
The agency notes that year over year; the list doesn't change much. They point out that this list is a good starting point for building a workplace safety program. So, in our basic review of OSHA standards for construction, we'll focus on the top three construction-related standards violations. And, we'll include personal protective equipment (PPE), which is our specialty.
Fall protection ranks number one in violation citations and in serious workplace injuries and deaths. That should put it at the top of your list of concerns.
For construction, the agency requires fall protection at elevations of 6 feet. Their fall protection guidance document details installing roof trusses, ridge poles and rafters, roofing, foundations, floor joists, subfloors, walls, and more. For a deeper dive, see OSHA's fall protection document as well as their prevention videos.
Scaffolding is number three on the list of OSHA violations. A Bureau of Labor and Statistics study found that 72% attributed the accident to slipping, being struck by a falling object, or the planking/support giving away among workers injured in scaffolding-related accidents. Another severe hazard is electrocution from nearby overhead power lines.
OSHA's Scaffolding eTool can provide further insight into the general requirements along with the requirements for specific types of scaffolding, including suspended, supported, scissor lifts, and aerial lifts.
The ladder standards address every type of ladder from portable to fixed and each element from load to rungs, cleats, and steps. Most of that will be critical to the ladder manufacturer and prove very helpful in the workplace. We recommend the publication "Falling Off Ladders Can Kill." It provides extensive direction on using each type of ladder, safety procedures to follow, and what to avoid to reduce or eliminate injury.
Personal Protective Equipment
Our specialty is personal protective equipment (PPE). So you can bet that we pay very close attention to OSHA requirements for our products. Here's what you need to know.
PPE General Requirements—1910.132
This section covers all the general requirements, with later sections listed below, going into more specifics. The broad sweep of PPE covers equipment meant to protect eyes, face, head, and extremities, including hands, feet, arms, legs, etc. Employers need to determine what's needed given the nature of workplace hazards present and provide the PPE and training at their expense.
Training is required on when to use PPE, how to use it, its limitations, care/maintenance/disposal, and the employee needs to demonstrate their knowledge. Retraining is required when the workplace changes or an employee demonstrates a lack of knowledge in PPE use. As a starting point, we like the OSHA Fact Sheet Personal Protective Equipment.
Eye and Face Protection—1910.133
Thousands of people are blinded each year, and eye injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical costs, and worker compensation costs. You'll need to evaluate the hazards here include the impact from flying objects, heat, chemicals, harmful dust, and optical radiation. OSHA provides an online tool for selecting PPE.
Again, employers need to determine the type of protection required, provide that protection, provide any necessary training, and make sure that it's worn in the workplace. For more, review the full regulation.
Foot protection needs to address falling and rolling objects and objects that could pierce the sole of the shoe. It should also address static-discharge or electric-shock hazards when those exist in the workplace. You'll find the full regulation at foot protection.
We've spent considerable time making gloves that fit every imaginable workplace and address every workplace hazard. The regulation for hand protection covers hazards that include: harmful substances, severe cuts/lacerations, abrasions, punctures, chemical and thermal burns, and temperature extremes. Another resource we recommend is the PPE Assessment Tool.
We've Got You Covered
When it comes to personal protective equipment and complying with OSHA regulations, we've got you covered. Whether it's gloves, glasses, garments, or all three, you can find them at MCR Safety.