How to Build a Construction Safety and Health Program
Check out our Construction Safety and Health Program for a great template to start with.
Step 1 - Assign a Safety Administrator
The company needs to assign an employee to manage the creation of the company safety and health program. This person should be a competent person, which OSHA defines as:
One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.
Step 2 - Review the Commonly Applicable OSHA Regulations
There are OSHA regulations that apply to nearly every construction employer. These regulations are covered in the Construction Safety and Health Program.
- Falls - Falls from heights is one of the leading causes of construction fatalities. The program will help you identify fall hazards, and take steps to protect employees from those hazards.
- Stairways and Ladders - OSHA requires that all breaks in elevation of 19 inches or more have a stairway or ladder.
- Scaffolding - Scaffolding is commonly used to work at heights. The scaffolding policy will cover safe work, fall protection, inspection requirements, and more.
- Electrical - The employer must identify electrical hazards and protect employees from them.
- Trenching and Excavation - Trenching and excavation can be complicated and dangerous. It is important to have a policy that addresses these risks.
- Motor Vehicle Safety and Highway Work Zones - Employees need to be aware of the hazards of traffic on and near the work site.
Step 3 - Special Requirements That May Apply To Your Workplace
These hazards can also be found on construction sites. This list is not comprehensive. Check to see if these apply to you, and then take steps to address these hazards.
- Hazard Communication - Employees who work with chemicals must be trained on their hazards and how to protect themselves from those hazards.
- Hand and Power Tools - Hand and power tools are frequently used and misused. Be sure these hazards are being addressed.
- Welding, Cutting, and Brazing - This can be a fire hazard, and can expose employees to atmospheric contaminants.
- Confined Spaces (NEW) - Confined spaces in construction now have their own set of regulations.
- Aerial Lifts - Aerial lift rollover and contact with power lines is a frequent cause of worker fatalities.
- Forklifts - Forklift operators must be trained and authorized to drive powered industrial trucks.
Step 4 - Survey The Workplace For Additional Hazards
In construction, each work site has its own set of hazards. A competent person must analyze the site and identify current and potential hazards. These must be incorporated into the job site safety plan.
Step 5 - Create the Construction Safety Program
Once hazards have been identified, you can create your construction safety and health program. Once it is completed, it needs to be fully reviewed and authorized by management. Remember this is your program, and the responsibility for safety and compliance rests with the company.
Step 6 - Train Employees
Employees must be trained on the contents of the company safety and health programs, as well as policies, procedures, and equipment required to keep them safe. This training should be done using a method that is easily comprehensible by workers, and in a language they understand. For a great collection of training materials, check out the Safety Training Compliance Kit library.
Step 7 - Review and Improve
Safety programs are always a work in progress. Make sure to review your program on a regular basis, and keep it current to reflect the hazards employees are facing in the workplace.