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While the biggest construction contractors often have teams of safety and health specialists on staff to help identify and eliminate safety hazards, smaller-scale contractors who make up the majority of construction businesses are generally on their own.
Until now, that is. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a new guide designed to help small to medium sized construction companies develop their own proactive safety programs that can improve workplace safety and reduce the amount of workplace injuries.
The guidelines are outlined in a new PDF document entitled “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction”, which can be downloaded for free HERE.
Keeping Workers Safe
The idea is for contractors to use the document to create health and safety programs using simple steps that anybody can follow, including training workers on how to identify and control hazards themselves, inspecting job sites together with line-level workers to identify potential problems with equipment and materials, and developing effective responses to emergency scenarios before they happen.
The benefit of the new OSHA guide is that it can be scaled to fit practically any sized construction business, from the smallest two-person operation working on short-term projects to larger companies with dozens of employees working on multi-year jobs, according to Dr. David Michaels, assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.
“The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable,” Michaels said in a news release announcing the release of the guide.
Benefits of Increased Workplace Safety
Implementing the recommendations outlined in the new OSHA guide will do more than just reduce workplace injuries and make job sites safer. It also can help improve productivity and quality, improve employee morale, and even improve employee recruitment and retention.
Small- to medium-sized companies that institute better workplace safety standards can benefit from a more favorable image and reputation among clients, suppliers, and peers within the industry. And as any contractor can tell you, your construction business is only as good as its reputation.
Even if contractors already have a safety program in place, it’s a good idea to review the recommendations because there are always new construction techniques, materials, and equipment being introduced into the industry.
There’s also more diversity today in the overall construction workforce. So people from different backgrounds — who often speak different languages — are often working side by side. Plus, the aging workforce and the rise of a sedentary lifestyle means that more workers than ever before are a higher risk for work-related injuries.