Avoid OSHA visits by minimizing jobsite accidents. 

I hope you have enjoyed a profitable year with plenty of work. However, far too many good contractors were not that fortunate. Regardless of how good or bad your business is, you certainly don’t need a workplace accident or an OSHA citation!

A number of years ago, OSHA changed the requirement from posting Accident Form 200 on every jobsite to posting Form 300A in your office from Feb. 1 to April 30. This is a detailed summary of any work-related death and work-related injury or illness that involves loss of consciousness, restricted work activity or job transfer days away from work, or medical treatment beyond first aid.

You also must record significant work-related injuries and illnesses that are diagnosed by a physician or licensed health-care professional.

OSHA’s Form 301 Injury and Accident Report is the first form you must complete when a recordable injury or illness has occurred. Within seven calendar days after you receive information that a recordable work-related injury or illness has occurred, you must complete this form or an equivalent. Keep this form on file for five years following the year to which it pertains.

This information must then be entered and maintained in OSHA’s Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Add specific details of what occurred, as well as what care was given and any negative results.

You could get a routine OSHA visit, have one following an accident or a follow-up on an employee complaint. Written proof will be required of safety training you provided for climbing ladders, working on scaffolding, working in trenches, etc., including minutes from your quarterly safety committee meetings.

Useful checklists

The majority of contractors hold weekly, on-site or “tailgate” safety meetings and have each employee’s signature to prove their task-training efforts.

I recommend using a Weekly Safe Plan of Action to ensure site-specific dangers are discussed. This simply asks each employee, “What could happen to you on this project this week?” Ask for comments and every employee’s signature. (View an early version of the Safe Plan of Action in “Changing attitudes,” February 2012.)

Whatever type of safety training you employ, it must be well-documented with employee signatures and maintained in each employee’s personnel file for OSHA’s confirmation. In addition to proper documentation, I highly recommend including training in your data-base employee skills inventory, using an Employee Skills List. (View an early version of this in “Tell your customers, ‘Yes, we can do that!’” from the January 2011 issue.)

You should have 200 to 300 items on this list, depending on the type of work you pursue, as well as a listing for OSHA training.

If you are not using a skills inventory currently, you will be amazed at the benefits to your company, as well as employee pride, once you implement it in your business.

Most employees, especially those with years of experience, will be proud to list every skill they have learned and be eager to add many more. This skills inventory gives them bragging rights to other employees and to their families and friends. Many companies add the title of “Company-Certified Skills” to their inventory list to give additional pride to their employees.

In addition to encouraging OSHA-required training, you can see how effective this database skills inventory is for new employee orientation, and for your dispatcher and jobsite foremen to properly utilize every employee.

Never forget - construction is a very dangerous occupation.

On very large projects, we employ a full-time safety director to ensure no one gets injured or killed.

On most projects, this responsibility falls on the jobsite foreman to make sure that all safety measures are enforced. As every foreman or superintendent realizes, he has many responsibilities ensuring quality, confirmation to contract and profit-producing productivity, to add closely watching safety, too.

We recommend an 8:01 a.m. and 1:08 p.m. safety inspection every day and documented in the foreman’s daily log. This provides a concentrated safety survey after jobsite employees  are working in the morning and when they return after lunch. You will be surprised at what is found.

All this information is aimed at controlling costs of any accident or OSHA citation. Do not overlook the high risk of one of your employees being seriously injured, disabled or even killed. Consider how you would feel if you could have, and should have, prevented it!