2018 OSHA Review & 2019 Outlook

2018 became a year of finalizing previously updated standards, as well as a launch pad for increased legal ramifications for certain violations of OSHA rule, specifically excavation cases and silica cases. HB NEXT is committed to supporting construction firms in understanding and complying with OSHA regulations.

HB NEXT Senior Instructor/Consultant Raymond Scott reviews some of the 2018 OSHA changes:

  • With the new Silica Rule fully enforceable as of September 2017, and OSHA initiating multiple cases around the country, a new trend has already emerged involving lawyers beginning to advertise to file lawsuits against employers over silicosis claims.
  • Requirements for SDS will be harmonized in 2019 to match updated UN standards.
  • After the operator certification component of Subpart CC was pushed back to November of 2018, OSHA has confirmed that the Crane Standard will become fully effective on February 7th, 2019. The operator must be licensed by type or type and capacity.  Employers will still be required to provide proof of training on the crane assigned to an operator, as well as evaluation of the operator’s skill.
  • The push for criminal penalties continues in cases of severe injury or death, related to excavation cave-ins, paralleled by continued outreach by OSHA for these types of job site conditions.
  • As residential construction volume continues to grow, so will OSHA’s focus on home builders, especially with fall protection citations.
  • With electronic reporting of form 300A fully in place, qualifying employers will have to meet the March 2 deadline from 2019 forward.
  • With the new administration’s pro-business approach, we still expect to see a slowdown in new regulation over the next few years.On a related note, OSHA’s operating budget was reduced slightly, with only minor adjustments to its programs.

Staying abreast of OSHA regulation changes is critical to providing a safe work environment and minimizes the impact on project budgets before fines are imposed. HB NEXT is here to serve in a support role for clients, or clients can fully outsource their safety program to HB NEXT through the turnkey Compliance Partner ProgramContact HB NEXT today for any questions regarding your OSHA compliance situation.

Keeping up with OSHA Recordkeeping: Things to Know

Sorting through OSHA recordkeeping rules to decide if an employee’s injury or illness is recordable or non-recordable can be one of the toughest aspects of a safety administrator’s job. Some recordkeeping questions are more difficult than others.

All employers that are covered by the OSH Act are covered by standard 1904. However, most employers do not have to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics informs them in writing. For example, employers with 10 or fewer employees and business establishments in certain industry classifications are partially exempt from keeping OSHA injury and illness records.

Each February 1st through April, employers must post their 300A in an area generally accessible to employees a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded the previous year. Also, if requested, copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives. The records must be maintained at the worksite for at least five years.

How does electronic submission work?

OSHA has provided a secure website that offers three options for data submission:

  1. Users can manually enter data into a webform.
  2. Users can upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time.
  3. Users of automated recordkeeping systems, such as OSHA 300 Cloud, will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface).

The Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is accessible from the ITA launch page, where you are able to provide the Agency your 2018 OSHA Form 300A information. The date by which certainemployers are required to submit to OSHA the information from their completed 2018 Form 300A is March 2nd, 2019.

On July 30, 2018 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to eliminate the requirement to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300(Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), and OSHA Form 301(Injury and Illness Incident Report) for establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to maintain injury and illness records. So only an employer’s OSHA Form 300A information is required to be submitted.

Things to Remember:

  • Remember, 300 logs must be maintained throughout the year, updated within 7 days of date of injury
  • Even if you are under jurisdiction of a state plan, you must submit electronically. See your state office for any additional specific requirements
  • Remember, even if you are selected / asked to participate in annual BLS survey, you must still submit electronically to OSHA
  • 300 logs and 301 forms do not need to be submitted electronically (keep in mind previous year 300 logs, along with 300A summaries, can be requested at any time by OSHA)
  • Electronic submission of 300A applies to employers with:
  • Submit 2018 300A By March 2nd, 2019 by using the ITA launch page

Common Mistakes

Employers often make mistakes related to their annual injury and illness recordkeeping duty allowing for possible citations and penalties imposed by OSHA. Four common mistakes made by employers are:

  • Not having an appropriate management representative “certify” the 300A form
  • Not posting the 300A form for years in which there were no recordable injuries
  • Not maintaining a copy of the “certified” version of the 300A form
  • Not updating prior years’ 300 Logs based on newly discovered information about previously unrecorded injuries or changes to injuries that were previously recorded.

The requirement of completion, certifying, and posting the 300A annual summary form is separate and apart from the electronic data submission requirement of OSHA’s new Electronic Recordkeeping Rule.  Employers should not confuse submission of injury and illness data to OSHA electronically with the requirement of certifying and posting the 300A annual summary form.

If you have any questions or struggles with your company’s OSHA Recordkeeping, please contact HB NEXT for assistance. HB NEXT also offers OSHA 300 Cloud, for quick and easy electronic recordkeeping.

Scaffold Safety

Over our 20 years in business, HB NEXT has seen almost everything! We have seen that most construction workers are familiar with scaffolds, but a majority of workers are unfamiliar with the safety inspection that needs to be performed before working on scaffolds.  Below, you will find a comprehensive list of inspection practices and ‘must knows’ for using scaffolds.

Supported Scaffolds:

  • Inspection by competent person is required before each shift or any occurrence which could affect scaffold structural integrity.
  • Any part of damaged or weakened scaffold shall be repaired, replaced, or removed from service until repaired.
  • Legs, posts, frames, uprights shall rest on baseplates and mudsills (or other adequate firm foundation). Footings shall be level, sound, rigid and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold without settling or displacement.
  • Scaffolds and components shall not be loaded in excess of maximum intended loads or rated capacities, whichever is less.
  • If scaffold platforms are more than 2ft above or below a point of access, ladders, walkways, integral prefabricated access frames, personnel hoist, etc. shall be used.Crossbraces shall not be used as access.
  • Fall protection will be provided for employees at 10 ft or more.
  • Falling object protection for employees will be provided by the use of hardhats, as well as toeboards, screens, barricades, or canopies. You must wear hardhats 100% of the time.
  • Guys, ties, and braces shall be installed per manufacturer recommendation when scaffold reaches a 4:1 height to base width ratio, and must be installed at least at each end with a maximum interval of 30’.
  • Distance from power lines per OSHA standards (based on insulated/non-insulated lines and voltage) must be adhered to (minimum 10’ clearance).
  • Working on scaffolds in storms or high winds is prohibited unless determined safe by a competent person. Working on scaffolds covered in snow, ice, or other slippery material is prohibited except to remove.
  • Supported scaffold poles, legs, posts, frames, and uprights shall be plumb and braced to prevent swaying and displacement. Where uplift can occur, the frames shall be locked together vertically by pins or equivalent means.
  • Unstable objects shall not be used to support scaffolds or platform units.

Suspension Scaffolds:

  • Must be inspected by competent person prior to shift. Defective components shall be replaced.
  • Capacity must be its own weight plus 4 times maximum intended load.
  • Suspension rope must support 6 times maximum intended load when scaffold operated at rated load of hoist or 2 times rated load.
  • Fall protection will consist of PFAS and guardrails.
  • PFAS secured to separate anchorage than platform to create an independent life line.
  • Direct connections must support 4 times tipping point of scaffold at rated load or 1.5 times tipping moment at stall load of hoist whichever is greater.
  • Counterweights cannot be of flowable material and must be secured in place during use.
  • Tiebacks shall be equivalent in strength to the suspension ropes.
  • Tiebacks shall be secured to a structurally sound anchorage on the building or structure.

Aerial lifts:

  • Must meet ANSI requirements
  • Lift controls tested prior to use each day.
  • Only authorized personnel may operate.
  • Employees must stand firmly on floor of basket.
  • Harness and lanyard shall be attached to basket when working from aerial lift.

 

At HB NEXT, safety is our priority, and scaffolds are no exception.  Keep your personnel safe on the jobsite by creating a Safety Program or customized training program for your company.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact HB NEXT.

Timing is Critical When Confronting the Possibility of an OSHA Citation

Dealing with OSHA can be extremely taxing on you and your company if you do not address citations in a timely manner. It is extremely important to understand what steps you need to take and the timeframe that you have for action.  HB NEXT’s legal counsel, Andrew Gross, discusses all the necessary steps companies need to take when confronting the possibility of an OSHA citation.

“OSHA Citations must be addressed as soon as received in order to determine and engage effective defense preparations. If you’ve done your homework, prepared properly, and assembled supporting records, OSHA can and will withdraw the Citation at the Informal Conference in the Area Office that issued the Citation. If withdrawn, there won’t be any need to file a Contest and incur the additional expense and risk of litigation.

Citations must be resolved by settlement or contested in writing within 15 business days of receipt. In states where OSHA standards are enforced by a state agency, there are similar short timetables. These deadlines are absolute and can almost never be modified.

Better still, don’t wait for a citation to appear in the mail. When you learn that OSHA has inspected your jobsite, begin your own investigation immediately. Promptly determine whether the facts support a citation, and if so, whether you may have a valid defense. The time to get the facts is while they are still fresh in everyone’s mind. HB NEXT can help assess your situation and assist in planning an appropriate defense in anticipation of a citation.

Don’t forget to take immediate corrective and enforcement action, if indeed you determine that employees were exposed to a hazard. Employees or subcontractors who violated Company rules should be disciplined in accordance with Company discipline policies. If all else fails and there is no likely defense, proactive remediation and enforcement of your safety policy shows good faith and can reduce the penalty.”

If you have any further questions or concerns about OSHA citations, please contact HB NEXT! We have a team of professionals that can assist with all of your legal needs.

Safe & Sound Week: Show Your Commitment to Safety

HB NEXT is proud to take part in Safe & Sound week!  We encourage everyone in our industry to participate in this week of safety awareness.

Safe and Sound week is a cross country awareness campaign to facilitate the understanding of the “Value of Safety and Health Programs”. These health programs could include, but are not limited to: worker participation, management leadership, and systematic approach to fixing hazards in the work environment.

We participate in this week of awareness for one definitive philosophy: Safe Workplaces are Sound Businesses. Being proactive when it comes to safety is what sets successful businesses apart from failing ones. Safety and Health Programs can help identify hazards before the incident happens. Companies who take part can help save employees from injury or illness.

HB NEXT encourages everyone to visit the OSHA Website on Safe and Sound week to learn more about the initiative.

Contact HB NEXT if you need assistance creating a Safety Program or a customized Training program for your company.

From all of us at HB NEXT be safe!

Excavation Without Evaluation? You’re Next for a Cave-in

“Trenching and excavating is one of the most hazardous occupations in the construction industry. The only way to minimize these hazards is to follow the OSHA standards requiring engineering controls, protective equipment, and safe work practices.” Said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, FL.

This quote was also accompanied by a $100K willful citation issued to a local contractor for allowing employees to work in an excavation up to 9-feet deep without cave-in protection.

This is because a cave-in is the most common hazard associated with excavation work, as well as the most-deadly. Cave-ins are a risk to workers who repair water, sewer and utility lines, build roadways, perform digging operations, and perform other construction related activities. Some are exposed more than others, but all are at serious risk if proper protective measures are not taken.

AFSCME issued a statement that cave-ins can be caused by:

  • Loose soil / dirt due to vibrations from construction equipment or traffic in the nearby construction area
  • The weight of equipment combined with being too close to the edge of a trench
  • Soil that does not hold tightly together, such as sandy based soils
  • Water is heavily present at the job site, which weakens the strength of trench sides

A competent person must evaluate possible dangers before performing trenching or excavation work begins and throughout the entire operation until completion; NO EXCEPTIONS.  By OSHA standards, protective systems must be used for any trench or excavation that is 5 feet or more in depth. However, client requirements or the competent person may require protection at depths less than 5 feet.

Protective Systems may include:

  • Shoring – This supports the walls of the excavation. Shoring is made up of wales, cross-braces and uprights. Shoring must be installed from the top down and removed from the bottom up.
  • Sloping – This means the sides of the hole open out of from the excavation.  The type of soil determines the required angle.
  • Benching – This system is similar to sloping with steps cut into the sides of the trench.
  • Shielding – Shielding involves trench boxes or trench shields that are placed in the excavation to prevent the sides of a trench from caving in. The worker is only protected while in the “box”.  Some boxes can be moved throughout the work process.  The shield must extend at least 18 inches from the top of the trench.

To evaluate which protective system and other measures need to be deployed, the competent person may have a checklist to properly inspect the excavation like the example below:

  1. How deep is the excavation?
  • If 0’-4’ – Has the competent person inspected it and “safed it up”?
  • If 4’-5’ – Is there a means of egress (ramp, ladder or stairway) within 25’ of where people are working?  Is there a potential for hazardous atmosphere in the excavation?  This could be like in a landfill, chemical dump, nearby blasting or even next to a large highway. Was it tested?
  • If 5’-20’ – Does the excavation meet the egress and hazardous atmosphere standards?  Is the excavation sloped, shielded or shored?
  • If 20’+ – Has a professional engineer registered in the state been engaged to design the excavation?
  1. If sloped or benched
  • Has the soil been classified as stable rock, type “A”, “B” or “C”.  Remember type “C” cannot be benched.
  • What was the basis for classification?
  • Was at least one manual and one visual test completed.
  • Is water coming into the excavation?
  • Is there vibration in the soil?
  • Is it sloped into the excavation steeper than 4 to 1?  Is it previously disturbed?
  • Was it downgraded?
  • Are spoils, materials, and equipment at least 2’ back from the edge of the excavation?

3. If shielded

  • Is the tabulated data on site, and does the competent person understand how to read it?
  • Is the box within its rating?
  • Is it more than 2’ off the bottom of the excavation?
  • Is the dirt 18” down on the side of the shield?
  • Is the worker staying inside the shield?
  • Is there a means of egress within the shield?

4. If shored

  • Was the table in subpart “P” followed or was the calculation provided by a professional engineer?
  • Is everyone in the excavation wearing a hardhat?
  • Was the inspection and classification by the competent person documented?

 

HB NEXT has provided excavation competent person training and expertise to our clients for nearly 20 years.  If you do not have a competent person on site or need more information about excavation safety training, please contact us today.

National Safety Month – What You Need to Know

Every June in the United States most people are getting ready for barbeques, beaches and summertime fun. However, individuals in the Environmental Health and Safety(EHS) industry are ramping up for National Safety Month.

National Safety Month is aimed at reducing the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the workplace, on the road, and in our homes and communities. This month is a reminder that we all need to make safe decisions individually to protect ourselves and those we care about. The National Safety Council(NSC) has a different safety emphasis each week in the month of June as follows:

  • Week 1: Emergency Preparedness
  • Week 2: Wellness
  • Week 3: Falls
  • Week 4: Driving

NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH FREE MATERIALS

 

Additionally, National Safety Month is a great time for companies to review their safety program look for areas that need improvement. HB NEXT is offering all companies a Complimentary Review of their program, and $100 off of all Safety Manuals during the month of June. To submit your manual for review, simply fill out the form and upload your manual HERE.

Bringing Awareness to Construction’s Top Killer, Falls

It is critical that companies today are up-to-speed on Fall Protection Training & Awareness. Falls caused 384 out of 991 total deaths in construction in 2016.  Accounting for 38.7% percent of all deaths, it is by far the biggest of the “Fatal Four” killers in construction.

Fall Protection was also number one on the list of citations issues by OSHA in 2017, but that shouldn’t be a surprise considering it is killing more of our dwindling workforce than anything else.

So, what can companies do to protect their employees, subcontractors and wallets from the biggest cause of fatalities in construction?

  1. Prevent the fall!
  • Use guard rails, cover houses, use lifts, ladders or scaffolds with properly engineered controls to keep employees from falling. If this can’t be done, consider PPE options.
  1. Get the necessary fall protection equipment (PPE) for your job.
  • This can vary based on what type of projects you do.  For example, when working on a high rise, tie offs for fall protection prevention are usually readily available.  If you are setting trusses on a home building site, it may be a different story, but ALL workers must be given the opportunity to be safe and provided with equipment to do so.
  1. Train employees on when to use and how to recognize dangers and verify employees know how to use the required equipment (PPE)
  • Employees must also be given the proper training, so they can effectively assess situations and deploy provided PPE effectively.  Like with any tool, you must learn how to use properly and in the right situations.
  • This can be done through third party Fall Protection training classes, or what’s called “Competent Person” training, which helps to ensure the employee or supervisor knows what to do and how to enforce it.  In fact, OSHA requires certification of training for all employees who may be exposed to hazards greater than 6’!
  • As an employer, you must also verify that the employee is using the equipment as they have been directed. You can do this through regular safety inspections and/or having third party “Mock OSHA” inspections to see if you are practicing what is being preached.
  1. Reprimand employees and subcontractors
  • With something as dangerous as falls, it is always recommended that you reprimand an employee immediately if you see a fall protection violation. Remember that one fatality can devastate a family and cause a healthy company to come crashing down.  If you have employees or trades who are choosing not to abide by the safety standards you have set, everyone’s job is at risk without the proper reprimand documentation.

Your job as the employer or controlling contractor is to assess each situation and provide your employees and subcontractors with the training and resources to be safe wherever they work!

Are you subject OSHA’s Multi-Employer policy?

Under this policy, your subcontractors’ safety is 100% your responsibility. You must take the same approach as you do with your employees or under this policy, OSHA can cite you for any violation that occurs on your jobsite no matter who hired them.

Have questions about:

  • Competent Person Training
  • Fall Protection Policies or Equipment
  • OSHA’s Multi Employer Policy
  • Training, Verifying, Reprimanding requirement

Call our experts at 770-619-1669

Other links, resources and info:

OSHA statistics

OSHA’s multi-employer policy

Dig Safety: Awareness and Preparedness

Every 4 minutes an underground utility is struck and damaged by mechanized equipment, potentially causing harm to people/property, and interrupting utility services. The Common Ground Alliance, a stakeholder-run organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, reports approximately 379,000 utility damages occurred in 2016 resulting in an estimated cost of 1.7 billion in property damage as well as countless number of injuries and deaths.

Why are there so many underground utility strikes?  According to the Common Grounds Alliance there are several re-occurring causes: Notification not made to the One-Call-Center, insufficient locating practices, unmarked facilities, miss-marked utilities, inadequate utility marking, inadequate excavation practices, improper bidding of jobs, improper equipment used during digging, digging with mechanized equipment without first exposing buried utilities using manual digging methods, and the list goes on.

Utility damages impact everyone directly or indirectly. Contractors are affected in terms of a break down in safety, profitability, insure-ability, productivity, legal and civil liabilities. Utility Owner/Operators are affected in terms of utility repairs and loss of resources. Lastly, everyone is inconvenienced by the interruption of vital utility services.

Excavators, locators, utility owners, and the Utility Protection Center all share equal responsibility in the avoidance of utility strikes. There are some best practices that should be adopted to mitigate utility damages. these practices are:

  • Start at the very beginning: Employees should be trained properly on locating underground utilities, the correct use of equipment, and digging techniques. This includes when to use radar to detect the presence of underground lines and hand-digging and soft-digging techniques. They should also emphasize the correct type of equipment to use for every situation during the excavation.
  • Contractors should follow job site checklists and provide adequate on-site supervision as well as ongoing safety awareness and training.
  • Estimate jobs properly: Job estimates should include costs for allowing the time to locate underground utilities and verify marking, document 811 marking, dig around lines, use radar, and have downtime in the event of a strike.
  • Review the site plans and call 811 at least 48 hours before digging. Check the Positive Response Information System to verify excavation request has been processed.
  • Review flags and markings prior to starting the job to determine the proper equipment for the job.
  • Identify, if possible, whether there may be additional lines that are not on site plans and/or are not marked.
  • Document the job site with photographs prior to commencement of digging, taking photos of flags and markings and showing the scale of where you’re digging.
  • Don’t assume the depth of utilities. Digging at a deeper depth than marked utilities does not always solve the problem. If you aren’t sure, dig slower and use manual tools to expose the utility and determine the tolerance zone.
  • Most important, use your industry knowledge, common sense and always keep a focus on safety!

The cost of utility damages is a trickle-down effect that is paid by us all. Having a clear excavation plan and knowing what below can save lives, money time and property.  If we all do our part everyone wins.

Reggie Nelson
HB NEXT

Proper Development and Implementation of Site-Specific Safety Plans

Ever heard this?

“Our company safety manual has been written specifically for and tailored to (Name of Company).  The safety manual addresses the hazards anticipated on this project. If any other hazards arise or other hazards are identified, (Name of Company) will submit an updated Site-Specific Safety Plan.”

These words succinctly explain a procedure that is used by many employers serving in a Subcontractor role to satisfy requirements of their General Contractor Client.  It’s a procedure designed to identify and control unexpected hazards on a project—hazards to which the contractor’s employees wouldn’t normally be exposed.

For decades, HB NEXT has assisted construction firms in properly creating their safety manuals and their site-specific manuals. This sometimes involves guiding these firms as they work to become and remain compliant with their Client and regulatory requirements.

The Site-Specific Safety Plan is not intended to be—nor should it be—a regurgitation of the company’s overall safety program.  There’s nothing truly ‘site-specific’ about reprinting a manual and changing the cover sheet to reflect the project name and address.  An SSSP should be an exercise in evaluating the scope of work for a project and putting a plan in place to protect employees from hazards unique to that project, that they might not normally encounter.

Keys to developing a smart, usable, and generally acceptable SSSP include:

  • Thorough evaluation of the scope of work
  • Identification of the employees who will be working on that project and make sure they have the necessary training
  • Communication with clients and employees to make sure that specific procedures for that project are understood by all involved
  • If a GC Client has specific unique procedural requirements, this is the time to learn and understand and decide if your company can live by them

So the question to ask, is your site-specific safety plan assembled correctly? Ask HB NEXT to review your plan and make sure your firm is staying compliant. HB NEXT offers many safety compliance services to keep your employees safe.