The United States Department of Labor governs the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has many regulations and rules to help prevent construction site injuries. This is a daunting task as OSHA is a small agency and with the state partners, has approximately 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of workers in approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average for all injuries. 4,628 workers were killed on the job in construction sites in 2012. The most common construction site injuries occur involving the following:
- Trench collapses
- Scaffolding collapses
- Electric shock, arc flash, arc blast
- Failure to use proper personnel protective equipment
- Repetitive motion injuries
OSHA has 10 regional offices and 90 local area offices.
The 10 most frequently OSHA standards included in any citations given by OSHA for problems in the workplace causing construction site injuries are as follows:
- Fall protection (scope, application, definitions)
- Excavations (general requirements)
- Head protection
- Excavations (requirements for protective systems)
- Hazard communication
- Fall protection (training requirements)
- Construction (general safety)
- Electrical (wiring, design and protection)
OSHA has rules and regulations that govern every aspect of work in the construction site. Taking for example a very common cause of injuries at construction sites are falls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided including the following:
- Guard every floor hole
- Provide a guard rail and toe board around elevated open-sided platforms, etc.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into a dangerous machine or equipment there must be guard rails and toe boards
- Other means of fall protection that may be required include safety and harness lines, safety nets, stair railings and hand railings.
It is important to know that various levels of employers have responsibilities regarding injury protection and liability for injuries concerning OSHA. The general contractor is responsible for construction site safety overall, and each sub contractor is also responsible regarding job safety and liability for injuries.
An injured construction worker must realize what occurred and what all the facts are as he or she may be able to collect worker's compensation benefits from his or her employer but also may receive benefits regarding third party claims against the general contractor or other sub contractors other than his or her employer.