How to Ensure Your Construction Job Site Meets Safety Standards

Safety Standards Construction Lawyer Edison, NJWhen it comes down to it, the safety and health of your employees are paramount. No matter the job or the place, every one of your workers should feel safe in their work environment. They should not have to worry about the chance of injury or death while at work. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 21.1 percent of worker fatalities in private industry in 2016 were in construction. That means just over one in five worker deaths from that year belong to construction workers.

It has been found that the leading causes of worker deaths in construction were falls, struck by object, electrocution and caught in/between machinery. These types of incidents accounted for around 63.7 percent of construction worker deaths. And while it is bad enough that workers are losing lives, these numbers do not even touch on the number of injuries that occur on a construction job site.

If one of your employers ends up injured on the job or even worse, dead, you could face a world of legal trouble, especially if you had the power to make the situation safer. You may end up facing a wrongful death suit or a workplace injury suit, both of which can affect you and your company’s well-being and future job prospects.

So, what things can be done to ensure your job site is meeting all necessary safety standards?

To start, you should educate yourself on the most up-to-date safety and health standards. By law, as an employer, you must provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules, and regulations issued under the OSHA act.

The OSHA act has been in place since 1970 and was designed to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women. Now, this does not mean just knowing what those conditions are;o it means regularly monitoring and enforcing those rules.

On a construction site, the most common cause of injury or death is from falls. There are two main things that tend to contribute to these types of accidents: scaffolding and failure to use fall protection.

Scaffolding Accidents

According to an OSHA worker series on construction, about 2.3 million workers frequently work on scaffolds. In order for those workers to remain safe while working on scaffolds there are certain standards that should be met and checked regularly.

Scaffolds are required to be rigid and able to carry its weight plus for times the maximum extended load. It should be erected on solid footing and should not be supported by unstable objects like barrels, loose brick or boxes. In addition, the scaffold should also be equipped with toeboards, midrails, and guardrails.

Scaffolding should be inspected regularly and re-inspected throughout use. They should also never be built, moved, altered or taken down without the proper supervision. Taking care of these steps is just one piece of the puzzle to protects workers from falls.

Stay Safe from Falls

The other is making sure workers correctly use fall protection equipment. Types of equipment are safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems, otherwise known as harnesses. Making sure workers know how to equip and use these devices can go a long way in keeping them safe on the job site.

Of course, there are plenty of other pieces of safety equipment you should make sure your workers use while on the job site. Wearing a hard hat can help protect the head from suffering blows. There is always the potential for objects to fall from above or for workers to hit their head on fixed objects.

Safety vests help keep workers visible, especially in an area frequented by trucks or other mobile equipment. Wearing gloves to handle material can also be important in keeping employees safe from injury or being exposed to dangerous chemicals. And of course, make sure workers wear the proper shoe is definitely important on a job site.

Wearing work boots can protect the foot, toes, and ankle from heavy objects and other everyday hazards on a construction site. The proper work boots are also designed with grips on the soles, making it easier to have sure footing when working in precarious places, such as on a roof.

In addition, eye and face protection is important. Safety glasses or face shields should be worn during work involving welding, cutting, grinding or nailing. They should also be worn when exposed to electrical hazards.

As someone looking to keep your job site safe, you need to make sure your employees abide by these standards. You cannot be afraid to hold them accountable, especially since their safety is at stake.

Creating and utilizing safety checklists is a good way to keep yourself and your employees accountable. It also a great way to go through and make sure your job site is up to par. There are standards in place to govern things like the build and support of a trench, which is important to avoid trench collapses.

It is also important to make sure the proper people are certified to use certain equipment. Crane operators and/or forklift operators must be certified and taught how to properly and safely operate equipment. You should also make sure the equipment being used is in working order and is maintained regularly to ensure its safety.

Finally, a big part of ensuring safety on your job site is by communicating potential hazards. This does not just mean telling people by mouth to be aware of possible hazards. It means hanging the proper signs with warnings about the possible hazards that exist. These signs should be vibrant and stand out so everyone can see them.

The same should be kept in mind when dealing with hazardous chemicals. It is recommended to have and maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous chemical on site and make it accessible to all employees at any time and in any language necessary. Train your employees on the Sheet and about the risks associated with the hazardous chemicals.

As is clearly evident, there is a lot involved when it comes to a job site. Maintaining its safety and the safety of its workers a full-time job and one that should be taken with great care. Never worry about overdoing it — in the end, each worker’s safety and livelihood is in your hands.

This blog is posted on HRZone. Be sure to follow them for more of my human resources-related articles published weekly.

When an Employee Applies for Workers’ Compensation

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The vast majority of employers around the United States are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This critical form of support is available to employees who are injured on the job or in the course of carrying out their job. Workers’ compensation insurance also gives employers peace of mind if an employee does indeed get injured because the employee will pursue workers’ compensation benefits rather than suing the employer outright.

At some point or another, most employers will have to deal with an employee filing a workers’ compensation claim. While employers in certain industries may have higher rates of claim filings, all employers may be exposed to the challenges of following a workers’ comp claim through the process from the time an employee is injured all the way through an approval or denial.

However, human resources professionals, managers and, company owners should all be aware of how the workers’ compensation process works so that they know what to expect and can avoid many of the common pitfalls facing employers. For example, an individual who files a workers’ compensation claim has protection from retaliation and other discriminatory practices in the workplace just by filing the claim.

That makes it all the more important for employers to be aware of some of the activities or behaviors that could be misinterpreted as retaliation, forming the basis for an additional lawsuit against the employer in question.

Understanding the Benefits of Workers’ Compensation Law

An injured employee is eligible to collect benefits through a program for an employer who carries workers’ compensation insurance. It’s important to realize that workers’ compensation insurance is not just there for employees; there are also many valuable protections for employers as well. There are limits as to how much financial compensation an employee is entitled to, and a worker is also prohibited from filing litigation which can save the employer from the time and expense of fighting a lawsuit. If there are other parties involved, however, the employee may still be eligible to file a civil suit against a third party. This could ultimately end up restoring the amounts that the employer has paid out to the employee for dealing with the situation. Work-related injuries can affect anyone, but only employees of a company can obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors, for example, do not qualify. Agricultural workers, seasonal employees or domestic workers may not be eligible, but the exclusions vary, so it’s important for an employer to sit down with their human resources professional to identify exactly which of their workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Work-Related Injury Classifications Can Be Difficult

Unfortunately, state laws are often vague or inconsistent about what constitutes a work-related injury. However, in general, a work-related injury or illness must be associated with the worker’s job. Certain accidents at work-sponsored events, in break rooms or in a vehicle while traveling for company purposes can also be covered. The laws may apply even if the employee is injured due to carelessness. However, accidents related to purposeful assault behavior or intoxication may not be covered. When an employee is injured on company premises during work hours, a workers’ compensation claim is likely to be successful. Workers’ compensation benefits can also be available if an employee was injured as a result of work-related strain or stress.

Employers should be mindful of the fact that injuries could be classified as physical or mental. A hostile work environment, for example, could contribute to psychological stress and justify a workers’ compensation claim. In these types of allegations in which the employee may be claiming that the employer knew about the situation and failed to correct it, it is especially important for documentation and reference to the employee handbook to be consistent. This means that if the employee pursues a stress-related condition through workers’ compensation benefits and also files a lawsuit due to a hostile work environment, that the employer is thoroughly protected and has documentation and evidence on their side.

What Employers Cannot Do

It is always important to take any claim regarding workers’ compensation or an injury in or around the workplace very seriously. It is not the employer’s or human resources manager’s job to determine whether an injury occurred or should be covered by workers’ compensation; that is determined by the insurance company. The employer should do everything possible to document how the accident occurred and how he or she responded in the event that this is questioned down the road. Employers cannot deny employees appropriate medical care if an injury was suffered at work. When an injured employee is eligible to come back to work, the employer must take him or her back. One of the most important things to keep in mind for human resource managers and employers is that an employer cannot retaliate against an employee in any fashion for filing a workers’ compensation claim or thinking about filing a workers’ compensation claim.

An employer who attempts to demote, reduce the pay, or terminate an employee because of a workers’ compensation claim opens themselves up to litigation brought forth by the employee. It is very important to be careful in the words that are used in written and verbal communication following a workers’ compensation claim. Being reasonable and accommodating with the employee and documenting all of the steps taken and why they were taken can help to support an employer in the event that the employee comes back with allegations of retaliatory or negative behavior.

These situations can be especially problematic if the company has already dealt with the temporary or permanent loss of the employee in question because of a severe injury. It is important for employers to articulate what employees must do when filing a workers’ compensation claim so that there is not an opportunity for confusion when an accident happens. Being respectful and helping the employee with the workers’ compensation claim can go a long way.