2017 OSHA Regulation Changes Review

2017 saw a year of changes and modifications to OSHA regulations as the safety industry tries to support the labor workforce in keeping their work environment a safe place to be. 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 2017 OSHA changes.

  • The year saw the end of the silica controversy and the adoption of the new standard.  We have seen the industry struggle to even come close to achieving the new standard.  Fortunately, OSHA gave us the T-1 table. If followed, this relieves us of meeting the standard. The first round of lawsuits were concluded Dec 22, 2017, with the courts upholding OSHA. For the time being, we are stuck with the standard. The biggest issue may lie in the B-reader test being used. This is the same procedure used in “black lung” and asbestos testing.
  • Subpart CC had the operator certification pushed to November 10, 2018.  Note, this does not relieve the employer from the responsibility of ensuring operator training.
  • Residential construction continues to be OSHA’s focus with over 6000 fall protection citations issued to home builders.
  • Electronic reporting of form 300a got off to a slow start due to technical issues on OSHA’s end with the filing date extended to December 15, 2017.  Next year, we will have until July 16, 2018. Moving on from 2019, we will have to meet the original March 2 deadline.
  • OSHA has finally recognized the importance of safety training for first and second line supervisors in leadership. It is sorely needed, and they are encouraging it in their Outreach Training 500, 502 Classes.
  • We have seen OSHA starting to push the residential industry to address attics and crawl spaces as confined space.
  • With the new administration’s pro-business approach, we expect to see a slowdown in new regulation over the next few years with a possible review of existing rules.

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 construction firms’ safety and compliance business units. Contact HB NEXT today for any questions regarding your OSHA compliance situation.

 

 

 

Practitioner Insights: Don’t Get Stung by an OSHA Citation if Your Subcontractor is Responsible

(The following article is reproduced with permission from Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, 47 osh 48, 12/07/2017. Copyright 2017 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bna.com. Author Andrew N. Gross is a principal, officer and General Counsel of HB NEXT Corp.)

Many mid-tier construction contractors win contracts to supply labor and materials, then subcontract out the entire labor portion. They frequently encounter problems when Occupational Safety and Health Administration cites them for workplace hazards, contending that the labor subcontractor’s employees are employees of the mid-tier contractor.

This is troubling when the mid-tier contractor has no employees working at the job site, and its on-site appearances are limited to project managers checking up on the labor subcontractor’s progress and work quality. The practice of subcontracting out all labor is common in certain trades. In my practice, I see it most often in masonry, roofing, drywall, and framing.

If cited by OSHA, you or your mid-tier contractor client will have to defend a citation alleging responsibility for safety hazards confronted by workers employed by other employers. In defense of the citation, it is vital to be able to show that another employer, presumably the labor subcontractor, is an independent contractor and the responsible employer.

Upon a credible, evidence-based showing, OSHA can and will withdraw the citation. If withdrawn at the OSHA-area office informal conference, there won’t be any need to file a contest and incur the expense and risk of litigation.

There is no ‘‘get out of jail free card’’ inoculating the mid-tier contractor from an OSHA citation, but wise labor subcontractor selection and monitoring, good drafting of the labor subcontract, and proper payroll reporting can limit the mid-tier contractor’s exposure, if not avoid it entirely.

Continue reading to view information in the following areas:

  • Burden of Proof
  • Who Employs the Workers?
  • Selection of Labor Subcontractor
  • Drafting the Labor Subcontract
  • Conduct at Jobsite
  • Dealing with Flowdown Responsibility
  • Multiemployer Jobsites

Practitioner Insights: Don’t Get Stung by an OSHA Citation if Your Subcontractor is Responsible

Contact HB NEXT for more information concerning OSHA citations and other legal matters when staying OSHA compliant. HB NEXT offers decades of experience in solving your safety and environmental construction industry challenges.

 

 

OSHA New Rule Aims at Reducing Silica Dust Exposure

In September 2017, OSHA enacted a new rule to help protect employees who are exposed to crystalline silica which is a common mineral found in the earth’s crust.  This material is found in many elements like sand, stone, concrete and mortar. Crystalline Silica is also used to make glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks and artificial stone.

The goal of this ruling is to protect individuals who work with these elements indoors or outdoors for more than four hours. These protocols, which have been put in place, are to help reduce the possibility of the employee inhaling respirable crystalline silica. These are very small particles that are 100 times smaller than sand that you’d find on a beach or at a playground. If an employee is exposed and inhales these particles often, they are at an increased risk of developing Lung Cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and or Kidney disease. Currently, there are approximately 2.3 million people in the US who are exposed to silica at work. Do you have a Silica Exposure Control Plan in place in your work environment?

Silica is created when one is cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and or crushing stone, rock concrete or brick materials. The dust particles are inhaled into one’s lungs.  If your employees have a work practice of four hours shifts or less, plus operate and maintain tools with integrated water delivery systems with manufacture specified flow rates to feed water to the blade, then you are not required to put in additional measures to control silica particles.

OSHA has set these protocols if an employee is not using a water element with their cutting. According to OSHA, employers who do not use control methods must:

  • Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it may be at or above an action level of 25 μg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an eight-hour day.
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an eight-hour day.
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL.
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL.

“OSHA estimates that the Final Rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Rule is projected to provide net annual benefits of as much as $7.7 billion to society in terms of reduced costs associated with preventing and treating silica-related illnesses.”

HB NEXT is here to serve construction firms as they navigate these new protocols to ensure their employees are working in a safe environment. Do you have a Silica Exposure Control Plan? The Team at HB NEXT is here to assist or write your plan for you to keep your firm OSHA compliant. From training to jobsite inspections, the HB NEXT Team can eliminate situations which will cause OSHA penalties and fines for non-compliance. With decades of experience in OSHA compliance, Ask HB NEXT to help your construction firm navigate this new ruling. Contact us today.

 

 

Benefits of Incorporating Safety and Teambuilding Into Your Project Kickoff Meetings

Getting off on the right foot is important when construction firms begin new projects. When project expectations are not met, projects will have issues and disputes. Whether it is budget, schedule, or quality, it is critical all expectations are outlined as well as informing the crews of project-specific safety issues. Most Pre-Construction / Kickoff Meetings just cover the basics. Yet by enhancing these sessions, one can have a strong impact on the overall health of your future projects.

As with any new project utilizing temporary employees or subcontractors, getting personnel to work together as a team can also present some challenges. Collaboration, innovation, and creativity will flourish in an environment where teambuilding is fostered. These items are critical for maintaining the spirit and motivation required to keep projects moving forward. HB NEXT has developed an 8-hour Safety Training & Teambuilding Course designed for general contractors (GC) and their subcontractors. HB NEXT Training Manager Ryan Boling sees many benefits for offering this course at the beginning of a project. “The Safety Training & Teambuilding Course is beneficial for any general contractor or specialty contracting firm that is or will be working on a construction project with several trades / subcontractors,” said Boling.

“This course can serve as a project ‘kickoff’ meeting or as training for initial jobsite orientation, providing a consistent safety message. The course has been referred to by former trainees as a miniaturized version of an OSHA 10-hour course combined with several other custom curricula developed by HB NEXT. The class covers OSHA compliance, jobsite safety, soft skills, leadership, project management considerations, and more,” commented Boling.

Clients have reported seeing an increase in cooperation and cohesion amongst different trades on the job which, in turn, has a positive effect on productivity and morale. This course gives GC representatives / owner’s representatives a chance to meet face-to-face with the subcontractors who will be performing work on their jobs. Also, when utilized as, or, in conjunction with, a project kickoff meeting, it provides an opportunity for the tradespeople on the job a chance to meet each other in person, before working together on an active jobsite with several distractions and the ongoing pressures associated with meeting schedules / budgets.

This course discusses common problems that occur in the field and allows there to be an up-front discussion about the ways to handle them as a team. This gives the GCs a better chance at resolving job conflicts more effectively when they occur.

This course also incorporates all of the GC’s company / job specific safety requirements and rules. When offered by a GC, it helps to improve overall safety on the job, allowing subcontractors to gain an understanding of the GC’s specific job expectations before setting foot on the project. This means less potential for accidents, incidents, injuries, and problems associated with the jobsite safety and compliance with local, state and federal regulations.

HB NEXT is committed to serving construction firms through safety training, counsel, OSHA reporting and any environmental issues that may arise on the jobsite. Contact HB NEXT today to enhance your next pre-construction or project kickoff meeting.

 

Understanding OSHA 300 and Their New Changes

No one wants to see an accident or an injury occur on their jobsite, but the reality is they happen daily across the US. OSHA requires documentation when these accidents occur. The construction industry is expected to file OSHA 300 forms yearly. The new OSHA electronic record keeping applies to construction companies with 20 or more employees.  It requires them to electronically submit injury and illness incident data. Initially, the 300A summary form was to be submitted to OSHA electronically by July 1, 2017. This deadline has since changed to December 1, 2017. HB NEXT Safety Expert Jon Lovejoy explains a few key components of OSHA 300 Recordkeeping.

Q.  What are the OSHA 301, 300 & 300A reports?

A.  The 301 Form is an injury and illness incident report containing all pertinent information. This may be similar to a worker’s compensation first report of injury. OSHA 300 Form is an injury and illness recordkeeping log of work-related injuries and illnesses. The 300A Form is a yearly summary of statistics for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Q.  What are the new changes and deadlines for OSHA 300A?

A.  A new deadline for certain employers has been extended from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017. All construction companies with 20+ employees must submit their OSHA 300 A Summary electronically.

Q.  Who does it apply to?

A.  Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

Here is a list of those companies:

https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/NAICScodesforelectronicsubmission.html

Q.  What do these changes mean for the industry?

A.  This tells us that OSHA is embracing more automation and may be the first step in moving all recordkeeping information online. This is why many companies are moving towards electronic recordkeeping now.

Q.  What are the options for tracking accidents?

A.  OSHA offers guidelines at this Injury Tracking Application (https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/ita). HB NEXT has developed a for use comparable platform like OSHA which is called OSHA 300 Cloud. This platform is used by firms across the US to track their accidents and injuries. Email alerting, completion tracking and automatic missed workday calculations make it simple for a company to complete and submit required information quickly and accurately.

Ask HB NEXT for a demo on 300 Cloud. Start simplifying your OSHA 300 Recordkeeping process. HB NEXT is here to help construction firms stay compliant and increase profits. They offer safety training and software platforms to help your firm stay compliant. For more information on OSHA 300, take a look at  https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/finalrule/

 

 

 

 

Why Conduct a Safety Orientation?

Working in the construction industry, safety is critical to ensuring your employees go home to their families. Workers move from jobsite to another and often times, they’ll miss a Safety Orientation Training. According to the National Safety Council, in 2013 approximately one-third of the nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses which involved time away from work were suffered by workers with less than one year on the job. Nearly one-quarter of those cases resulted in the employee losing 31 days of work. HB NEXT Safety Expert Jon Lovejoy explains a few key components of conducting a Safety Orientation.

Q.  Why do Orientations?

A.  Once an owner/employer decides to invest in his/her company’s safety program, it becomes more valuable and effective when employees are given the opportunity to learn what is actually in it. Orientations explain what the company policies are, but they should also be used to allow employees to ask why…oh, and by the way, it kills two birds…it’s training – document it.

Q.  Any legal requirements?

A.  There’s no real legal requirement, but OSHA does provide guidance for developing safety programs in accordance with its regulations and standards. Safety Programs must provide employee involvement. From understanding their responsibilities, to knowing what the rules are, feeling empowered to help improve the program, the Orientation is a good place to begin employee involvement.

Q.  What does it do for the employer and employee?

A.  For the employer, they’ll get a better ‘acknowledgment’ from employees by having them sign off…reduces the “you never told me that” situations.  For the employee, they’ll learn things they can do – and need to do – to help protect themselves and the company…like inspection documents, training sign-ins, disciplinary documents.

Q.  How can automating an orientation help the employer?

A.  It’s easy to ‘implement’ a safety program for the entire company, all at once, if everyone can be brought in at one time…automation helps with consistent and cost-effective delivery in different locations, as well as with each new-hire.

Ask HB NEXT for your guidance for conducting your next Safety Orientation. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with your employees and ensure they’ll return home safe after a day’s work. If you need assistance with creating or automating your Safety Orientation or creating your Safety Manual to have an orienation, please contact HB NEXT.

Staying Safe In Flood Debris Removal

As the U.S. enters the hurricane season, many people begin to volunteer their time trying to make a difference and help their community. It is important as cleanup efforts are underway across the U.S., the employers and workers stop and evaluate a flood situation before debris removal begins. By taking this time and having one conversation with your team, you can prevent further accidents & incidents and keep everyone safe.

OSHA has issued the following steps as a protocol when working in a flood area.

  • Conduct pre-incident disaster response planning and ensure that emergency workers know the plan.
  • Assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present or are likely to be present.
  • Provide protective equipment to prevent slips, trips and falls including:
    • Foot Protection (e.g., steel toe work boots)
    • Heavy Duty Gloves
    • Head protection
    • Personal fall protection
    • Long pants
    • Shirts with 4’’ sleeves
  • Train workers to identify hazards, including those that require protective equipment, and how to prevent accidents & incidents
  • Be on the lookout for dangerous animals. It’s very common for hurricanes to displace wildlife. This includes: snakes, insects, rodents, and alligators.

Here are some other ways to prevent slips, trips and falls.

  • Where possible, avoid walking on wet/slippery surfaces; wipe off the bottom of wet footwear
  • Use flashlights or helmet lights to stay clear of holes or floor openings, wet or slippery surfaces, and debris or equipment
  • Do not step on any surface until you have visually inspected it to ensure there are no holes or weak spots and that it can support workers and their equipment
  • Never carry equipment or loads in your hands when climbing ladders
  • Wear backpacks and tool belts to hold equipment and keep both hands free
  • Use fall protection when walking or performing emergency response activities near unprotected edges of elevated surfaces
  • Use communication devices, particularly hands-free devices, for contacting employers/incident commanders and other workers about slip, trip and fall hazards

HB NEXT is here to keep your workers safe and provide training and consulting in flood situations. Flooding due to hurricanes is not typically an item included in a company’s safety manual. Therefore, companies do not typically train their workers on how to recognize and prevent these hazards. Your jobsites might get flooded, and you need to take proper action to prevent accidents and incidents. Ask HB NEXT for assistance as you try to keep your company compliant. Contact HB NEXT today if you need any help. Please be safe this hurricane season.

Do You Know the Standards for OSHA and Confined Spaces?

 

In today’s construction industry, safety on the job is often at forefront of our minds; largely due to the dangerous nature of our work. While tremendous focus will rightfully continue to be placed on injuries and fatalities that arise from the construction industry’s biggest hazards (falls, electrical, struck-by and caught-in-between accidents), we cannot lose sight of the dangers around us that may be less obvious, hidden, or even invisible.

When considering confined spaces and the immediate threats they pose on the job, it is easy to underestimate the dangers associated with entering or working inside of them. Reported deaths related to confined space accidents are generally few and far between; making it even easier for workers to miscalculate a potential for danger. While knowledge of a lack of (frequent) workplace accidents can lead to a false sense of security with a worker, employers must be diligent in ensuring they don’t fall victim to the same “It won’t happen to me” type of mentality.

Prior to the announcement of OSHA’s new Confined Space Standard, the only requirement for the construction industry as it related to confined spaces was training. Even with training as a requirement for employers across the general industry, the injuries and fatalities associated with confined space work in construction continue to occur. After several years of tallying injury and fatality statistics related to confined space operations failed to indicate a positive correlation between safety training and the reduction of workplace accidents. OSHA concluded that a change was warranted for the construction industry. This change, which is now fully outlined in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1926 (29 CFR 1926) Subpart AA, highlights several new responsibilities for employers; some of which will apply regardless of whether work is being performed in the construction industry or general industry.

The Big Picture 

The existing confined space standard only requires employers to train their workers who will be exposed to hazards. This effectively exempts employers from having to possess a lot of knowledge about confined space safety. This could include knowledge of requirements for confined space access / egress, testing of atmospheric conditions and methods for worker rescue or retrieval.

The new standard will require employers to better educate themselves before allowing their employees to work in confined spaces. When it comes to safety on the job as it relates to accident prevention, employers will not have the luxury of claiming ignorance to the rules.

Under 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA, employers must be cognizant of the types of confined spaces their workers are exposed to (manhole, silo, pipe, tunnel, trench, etc.), the potential hazards inside, methods for eliminating those hazards and the applicable rescue procedures. It is also now incumbent upon employers to determine the type of training their employees receive as it relates to confined space operations. This will be one of the greatest areas of vulnerability for employers regarding this new standard, as employers have no one with whom they can share responsibility for work-related accidents. Employers can no longer just purchase training materials for confined space safety, throw a group of employees into a room for a day to watch videos and be satisfied that they have adequately prepared those employees for the hazards that can potentially be encountered in their work.

Regardless of whether the training given to employees is good, bad, compliant, noncompliant, or anywhere in between, ultimately, the responsibility (and liability) now lies with the employer to ensure the correct type of training is delivered to their workers. General confined space training may or may not be sufficient for a company’s needs.

So, what’s next and what does this mean for my company?   

The new confined space standard became effective for all employers on August 3, 2015. There is no grace period for compliance with this new standard. Employers need to be aware of this for confined space terminology, their new responsibilities under the standard and any updates or changes to their company safety documentation. This documentation could include corporate safety manuals, emergency procedures or training materials.

Those who are responsible for safety on construction job sites understand that as a project evolves, the conditions and hazards on the job change along with it. One segment of a job may introduce a vault, pit or boiler as a confined space where another job segment will introduce an excavation that’s over six feet in depth. One confined space may require an entry permit or specialized equipment where another does not. Employers will now have the challenge of not only selecting the proper training for their workers but also ensuring that the training they select encompasses all potential hazards and requirements for the work to be performed. In many circumstances, this could include supplemental training for a job site’s foremen, supervisors or competent persons in rescue procedures / equipment, ladders, trench safety or even fall protection safety.                                   

Understanding different types of confined spaces, the hazards associated with confined spaces and the legal requirements that bind employers is the key to ensuring compliance with OSHA’s new standard for Confined Spaces in Construction. Educating your employees will go a long way towards keeping them safe and will help to protect your company against regulatory citations resulting from noncompliance.

Contact HB NEXT for more information concerning this standard. HB NEXT is your #1 partner for construction service support. Did you know HB NEXT offers Legal Services to keep your company out of the courtroom with violations?

By: Ryan Boling, HB NEXT

 

 

 

hb next construction safety compliance

Handling Heat Related Challenges

Don’t put your employees at risk working in the heat this summer. Take some preventive measures from HB NEXT to avoid a workplace incident on your construction jobsite. Did you know the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has several guidelines for working in the heat, and what to do if there is a heat related incident on your jobsite?

Heat not only can cause heat stroke, it can also cause heat exhaustion and a heat rash or heat stress.  It can increase accidents and injuries when working outside due to sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses along with dizziness.  These symptoms can increase job injuries. Workers who are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure can be at a greater risk of heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. This can cause death or permanent disability. Normally, heat injuries occur when the body hits 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Throbbing headache
  • Seizures
  • Coma

First Aid for Heat Stroke

  • Call 911
  • If possible, move worker to a cool place
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Apply cool water to the body

When workers work outside, NIOSH recommends working shorter shifts until the employee is truly acclimated. When employees take time off or go on vacation, upon their return to work, the employee should take extra precaution when working back in the heat. Employees should return fully rested, alert, hydrated and have shorter shifts until they are acclimated back to the hot environment. When working in dangerous areas or elevated areas on a construction site, employees should have a designated buddy to ask how they are doing throughout the day. Taking time to cool down frequently is also recommended and wearing light breathable clothing.

Heat Exhaustion can also occur on a jobsite. It is important workers know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slightly elevated body temperature
  • Fast, shallow breathing

First Aid for Heat Exhaustion

  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly
  • Remove heavy clothing
  • Drink cool water
  • Take a cool shower
  • Cool the person down by spraying them or a cool water sponge

Protecting your employees during the hot summer months is critical to job safety and employees’ health. The HB NEXT Safety Team is filled with experts to help you on your jobsite with summer heat challenges. Contact HB NEXT today and find ways to solve your heat challenges.

 

 

safety manual

Safety Manuals: The Backbone of Company Safety

Most of what a young person hears growing up in the construction industry today is, “Safety is #1! Safety is #1! Safety is #1!” While it is hard to disagree, any seasoned veteran will tell you that Budget, Schedule, and Quality are also important – if you want to stay in business.

Let’s all be honest, when the economy suffered and many companies were just trying to survive, they tossed off excess weight so they could stay afloat. Unfortunately, sometimes company safety fell into this boat.

Today, regulatory compliance officers are back in full force. We see more citations and more citations PER INSPECTION. Now whenever OSHA shows up, it’s not just about whether the site or location is safe and whether safety is present or not. Now, compliance officers are digging into all the paperwork and procedures of the companies they inspect. Safety Manuals are one of the most overlooked items by companies. When you have to dust off the safety manual when the OSHA compliance officer walks through the door, you’re likely in trouble. Don’t feel bad, because you aren’t the only one.

The safety manual is the backbone of a company’s safety culture and processes. Everything stems from it. It used to be the best manual was the one that made the biggest “thud” when you dropped it on a desk. Now, what is excluded is equally as important as what is included. If you have excess material in your safety manual, you’re placing your company at risk for potential civil charges when accidents occur.

The importance of customizing safety manuals cannot and should not be underestimated. With the increase in Federal and State requirements, your safety manual needs to convey a clear representation of the business functions you are performing.

Custom safety manuals are more likely to meet the requirements of Federal and State OSHA regulations.

Custom safety manuals should include standard information, plus your industry-specific and job-specific information. It includes but is not limited to Safety Policies & Procedures, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, a Training Prescription for all of your employees, and all forms of proper safety documentation.

Now, back to the “Safety is #1” statement…

Safety is #1. There is a difference between safety and compliance. Safety is what we do on the job to ensure we are protecting our employees from harm. Compliance entails the steps we take to ensure we are in accordance with Federal, State, and “Company” laws and regulations.

Compliance is where many companies are struggling, and it is where regulatory agencies focus their efforts. Even though companies are being safe on the job, high-dollar fines are still being issued to companies for being out of compliance. You see, without a safety manual tailored to your specific business operation, there is little to no proof of compliance. The safety manual is the most critical piece. It is where company compliance standards are set and processes are laid out.

Finally, do not forget about documented enforcement, i.e. – employee reprimands or other written methods of performance management for failure to follow safety policy. Without enforcement, a safety manual is barely worth the paper it’s printed on.

So, when was the last time you took a good look at your manual? Let HB NEXT help you get your safety manual in compliance. Ask HB NEXT.

– Tony Cann

Business Development Manager, HB NEXT