Important Published Safety Standards Besides OSHA.
OSHA regulations provide detailed technical guidance about how to avoid hazards related to specific construction tasks. Nevertheless, OSHA does not provide much instruction about day-to-day safety management requirements on commercial construction sites.
Conversely, two ANSI standards dictate what safety management activities must occur on a jobsite to ensure a safe work environment for employees on commercial construction sites. First, ANSI standard A10:33-2011 sets forth the requirements for multi-employer safety and health plans on commercial construction sites. Second, ANSI standard A10-38-2000 provides information about basic elements which must be present in an employer’s health and safety program. Beyond these two ANSI standards, the American Society of Safety Engineers publishes a treatise on construction safety management called Construction Safety Management and Engineering. Additionally, there are shorter treatises attorneys will find helpful when representing clients in commercial construction accident cases including Managing Subcontractor Safety, published by the Construction Industry Institute and The Manual of Accident Prevention for Construction published by the Associated General Contractors of America. It is indisputable that all of these publications set forth accepted standards of construction site safety management.
- According to these publications, the following things must be done to implement, monitor and enforce safety requirements on commercial construction sites:
- Owners and general contractors must investigate and review the safety histories of the companies that they hire, and these reviews must be documented.
- Owners or general contractors must develop a comprehensive written safety and management plan before beginning construction.
- Subcontractors must prepare site specific safety plans that detail safety management procedures to be followed on the jobsite, which must be reviewed by the owner or general contractor.
- There must be a written description of the safety responsibilities of all members of a general contractor’s management team.
- A general contractor must assign responsibility for the implementation of the project safety and health plan on the jobsite to a specific individual.
- There must be a written description of the safety management responsibilities of supervisory personnel of subcontractors.
- Subcontractors must designate an individual with final authority and responsibility for compliance with the safety and health plan.
- The safety obligations of all employees on the site must be spelled out in writing.
- All workers on a commercial construction site must undergo safety orientation conducted by the general contractor which introduces them to the safety rules on the jobsite.
- Employees on the jobsite with supervisory positions relative to safety must receive sufficient training to enable them to meet their job responsibilities.
- A baseline safety inspection must take place to identify potential hazards and safety issues and this must occur prior to the commencement of work on a jobsite.
- General contractors and subcontractors must meet before beginning work on the jobsite to discuss safety hazards and the policies and procedures to be adopted to minimize or rectify these issues.
- Safety personnel of the general contractor and supervisory staff of subcontractors must conduct periodic inspections (daily and weekly) to discover and correct hazards and to ensure that workers are complying with the rules set forth in the written safety and health plan.
- Subcontractors must hold weekly meetings/toolbox talks, and these must be documented.
- General contractors must submit monthly safety status reports to owners which discuss the current safety and health status of the project including the results of safety inspections and audits occurring on the jobsite.
- Subcontractors must submit monthly safety reports the general contractor in charge of a jobsite.
Accidents are not simple occurrences but the result of a series of events which are linked together. When attempting to determine why a construction site accident occurred, it is unfair to focus exclusively on an injured worker’s actions just prior to an accident, because this ignores the contributing role other parties played in influencing the worker’s behavior and the outcome. You must also look at factors outside the scope of an injured worker’s control to evaluate why a construction an accident occurred, including the physical conditions that existed on the jobsite and the safety actions of first-line supervisors and various levels of management relative to the safety and health programs that existed on the jobsite.
Accepted standards of construction site safety management require a proactive approach to safety that involves pre-work hazard analysis, collaboration between contractors about safety issues and the development of a set of rules to avoid and minimize hazards is the best way to protect workers. Individuals must make daily and weekly inspections to uncover and correct hazards, and construction sites have to be set up so that communication and collaboration about these issues continues after work commences.
A good understanding of accepted standards of safety management can help attorneys uncover negligence on the part of owners, general contractors and subcontractors which were contributing causes to a plaintiff’s accident.