Monthly Archives: June, 2019

  1. What to Focus on During National Safety Month Part 2

    Although construction firms realize that they must commit themselves year round to the most effective safety measures, June is especially important as it is recognized as National Safety Month. In this two-part article, a Florida OSHA lawyer is discussing several safety topics related to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) National Safety Month. As we previously discussed in part one, there are several ways that employers can share valuable safety tips with their employees. In this part, we will discuss this year’s selected topics to focus on this June.

    Week 1: Hazard Recognition

    The first week of National Safety Month will focus on hazard recognition. One of the first tasks companies must take on when they enter the jobsite is to identify hazards. Moreover, new hazards will form as the project progresses. Contractors must understand the risk assessment process to identify and mitigate these issues. Furthermore, employees must be trained on how to spot hazards and take a proactive approach to developing a solution to these issues. As potential hazards can take many forms, it’s critical that construction firms and their employees understand these threats and how to reduce the likelihood of a hazard impacting their workplace.   

    Week 2: Slips, Trips, and Falls

    It should come as no surprise that the second week of National Safety Month 2019 is focused on slips, trips, and falls. Every construction firm should be aware that falling deaths remain the most common form of workplace fatality. Falls are especially concerning for construction and roofing industry professionals. Whether these incidents occur because of a complacent workplace, overlooked hazards, failure to wear the right safety equipment, or a variety of other factors, the end result is that slips, trips, and falls remain a paramount concern and sites need to do their best to prevent these accidents.  

    Week 3: Fatigue

    Construction work is challenging and can cause workers to suffer from extreme fatigue. An overly exerted worker is more prone to both a long-term injury or a short-term mistake resulting in a serious accident. Extreme physical exhaustion can also affect workers mentally and emotionally. There are many ways jobsites can reduce fatigue by providing workers with more breaks and implementing techniques that reduce strain on the body, such as stretching exercises. There are also many effective ways workers can reduce fatigue outside the workplace, including adopting a better diet, committing to an exercise regimen, and getting the doctor-recommended amount of sleep.  

    Week 4: Impairment

    With the Opioid Crisis’ immense impact on the construction industry, workplace safety and impairment has evolved from just the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol to prescribed opioids among other concerning issues. Other important topics in 2019 include the legalization of marijuana in many states and whether or not construction companies should adopt a zero-tolerance policy in regard to any form of drug use.

    Although June may be National Safety Month, contractors know that every month in construction is equally important in regard to safety and health concerns. If your jobsite needs assistance with safety laws and regulations, consult a Florida OSHA lawyer.  

    If you would like to speak with a Florida OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  2. What to Focus on During National Safety Month Part 1

    OSHA Lawyer Smiling
    Although safety is always an immediate concern on the jobsite, contractors and construction firms should commit even more time to promoting safety in the workplace during the month of June, which doubles as National Safety Month. In this two-part article, OSHA lawyers will discuss a variety of safety topics related to National Safety Month 2019.

    Observing National Safety Month

    The National Safety Council (NSC) is committed to safety. As it states on the organization’s website, “The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.” NCS wants employers to get the word out this June through several training and education initiatives focused on reducing injuries and fatalities in the workplace.

    For a full list of ways you can “share the safety message in June,” please visit the National Safety Month section of NSC.org. Some tips for employers to engage with employees includes:

    • Share Safety Resources: Whether it’s downloading free safety materials from NSC or from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), contractors should always have plenty of available resources on hand to offer employees access to educational and training materials. The more your employees are educated, the less of a chance a serious accident occurs at your jobsite.
    • Create a Thought Leadership Channel: Many employers will share a newsletter, blog, or social media posts as a way to spread the word related to valuable safety information. Another creative way to promote a safe workplace is to host trivia contests rewarding employees that have done their homework. There are a variety of creative ways you can promote safety in the workplace aside from just dishing out safety manuals.   
    • Risk Assessment and Hazard Identification: Contractors need to make safety practices second nature to their workforce. Along with offering on-the-job training, construction firms should also make identifying hazards an ongoing activity for all of their projects. As we will discuss more in this article, this is a vital topic related to workplace safety.

    The Four Weeks of National Safety Month

    National Safety Month focuses on an important safety topic each week. In 2019, NSC is committed to covering the following topics on a weekly basis:

    • Week 1: Hazard Recognition
    • Week 2: Slips, Trips, and Falls
    • Week 3: Fatigue
    • Week 4: Impairment

    For more information on each of these topics, please read part two.

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  3. Working Around Downed Power Lines Part 2

    Texas OSHA Defense Attorney Downed Power Line
    In part one of this two-part article, the Texas OSHA defense attorneys at Cotney Construction Law expressed the importance of educating your workforce about the dangers of working around downed power lines. Downed power lines represent a dangerous and oftentimes unpredictable hazard that must be approached with caution. By arming your workers with the necessary knowledge, they can avoid falling victim to an electric shock or electrocution, and you can avoid a visit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As we discussed, energy flows in surprising ways, so even the smallest degree of negligence could lead to a severe injury.

    What Is Backfeed?

    Backfeed occurs when power flows counter to its normal flow or when voltage remains on a conductor or connected equipment even after being disconnected from its power source. This frequently occurs when portable generators are improperly connected to a structure’s electrical system. There’s a good chance that many of your workers have never heard of this term before, as it more commonly presents a hazard for electrical contractors. That said, backfeed is a very real danger for construction professionals who are working around downed power lines or other damaged electrical devices. Basically, when backfeed occurs, electricity flows both inside and outside a structure. Other common sources of backfeed are circuit ties or switch points, lightning, and downstream events. By abiding by the correct lockout/tagout procedures, your workers can avoid connecting more than one electrical source to the same circuit.

    OSHA’s “Rules to Live By”

    OSHA has published a list of ways workers can avoid coming into contact with downed power lines. Your workers should be familiar with these tips, which include:

    • When working in close proximity to a downed power line, never assume that it is safe, even when there appears to be no source of energy.
    • Always assume that a downed power line is lethal, regardless of whether or not you think it is a harmless telephone, television, or fiber-optic cable.
    • If you spot anything electrical, act as though it is energized to avoid any incidental injuries.
    • Stay away from downed power lines.
    • Be wary of the fact that electricity has a tendency to spread outward in a circular formation once contact has been made. As you move away from the point of contact, varying levels of voltage can be created.
    • Do not drive over downed power lines.
    • If you are driving a vehicle that makes contact with a downed power line that is energized, stay in the vehicle unless there is a fire and call for help.
    • If you are forced to leave a vehicle that caught fire after coming in contact with a downed power line, try to jump away from the vehicle so that you do not make contact with the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Once you land, shuffle away to avoid electrical shock.

    If you would like to speak with one of our Texas OSHA defense lawyers, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  4. Working Around Downed Power Lines Part 1

    OSHA Defense Attorney Downed Power Lines
    Construction professionals may find themselves working around downed power lines for a number of reasons, so it’s vital that contractors are familiar with the ideal protocols for preventing electrical hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes that electricity is one of the top workplace hazards with the potential to severely or fatally injure workers. Downed power lines can lead to electric shock, electrocution, fires, and even explosions. In this two-part article, an OSHA defense attorney will explain everything you and your workers should know about performing construction-related tasks around downed power lines.

    Always Make Safety Your #1 Concern

    Whenever you enter a project site, it’s important to inspect for any signs of electrical hazards, especially downed power lines. Advise your workers to approach all electrical equipment, lines, and conductors with the expectation that they are fully energized and dangerous. Additionally, your workforce should be instructed to touch base with the relevant utility personnel if they identify downed wires or other types of damaged electrical equipment. There’s no guaranteeing that a circuit has been switched off just because a power line has fallen down, since reloaders are designed to automatically reset and reactivate circuits when the flow of power is interrupted. If a downed electric line isn’t sparking or humming, that doesn’t mean it’s not active. By simply touching a downed power line or even the adjacent ground, a worker could be electrocuted.

    Be Wary of the Way Energy Flows

    When a damaged power line falls to the ground, the energy produced from the line can spread to nearby conductive objects like fences, water pipes, bushes, trees, buildings, and telecommunication cables. This presents a significant hazard to workers on project sites that contain downed power lines. It’s even been reported that manhole castings and reinforcement bars in pavement have become energized. This hazard is especially prevalent in the aftermath of a severe storm. Thunderstorms and hurricanes often catalyze the destruction of power lines, so whenever you’re contracted for post-disaster relief projects, it’s vital that your team is armed with the knowledge to maintain their safety. The strong winds associated with these storms can lead to canopies, aluminum roofs, siding, and even sheds being energized.

    In part two of this two-part series, we will continue to discuss what all construction professionals should know about working around downed power lines in order to avoid a citation from OSHA.

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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