Monthly Archives: August, 2019

  1. Why OSHA Jobsite Inspections Are Expected to Increase

    OSHA Defense Lawyers Talking
    It’s something that many construction site managers dread: a visit from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance officer. Even when their jobsites are in full compliance with federal law, construction managers are still apprehensive of OSHA inspections, and for good reason — OSHA compliance officers often arrive unannounced and wield the power to issue fines and stop-work orders. To further complicate matters, a new wave of OSHA compliance officers will soon be entering the field. 

    Below, we’ll be discussing why OSHA jobsite inspections are expected to increase in the near future. If you are faced with an impending OSHA inspection or are dealing with the repercussions of one, consult with an OSHA defense lawyer

    A New Wave of Inspectors 

    In an April statement made before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, former Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, stated that a blanket approval allowed OSHA to hire 76 new inspectors in 2018. Acosta went on to say that “OSHA has been hard at work to onboard and train new inspectors and expects to have a significant increase in inspectors in 2019.” Training these inspectors takes one to three years, meaning that these inspectors will soon be prepared to conduct inspections. Furthermore, the President’s 2020 budget request includes an increase in OSHA’s budget to cover additional personnel, including 30 additional compliance officers and five whistleblower investigators. 

    With an increase in staff size and budget, it’s clear that OSHA has no intention of slowing down. In fact, the number of inspections has been steadily rising with over 32,000 inspections conducted in both 2017 and 2018, exceeding the number of inspections in 2016. With OSHA fines as severe as ever, construction managers must be prepared when an OSHA inspector arrives on-site. 

    Know What to Do When Faced With an Inspection 

    While OSHA inspectors are known for conducting inspections without advance notice, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be prepared. First, as stipulated in the OSHA Fact Sheet, you are well within your rights to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the jobsite. You can also take steps to ensure that an inspection goes smoothly by ensuring that any pertinent safety documents can be made available upon request. With the frequency of OSHA inspections increasing, construction companies can’t afford to ignore safety concerns until they are surprised by an OSHA compliance officer. Consult with an OSHA defense lawyer to ensure that you implement the necessary steps on your jobsite to both avoid and pass OSHA inspections. 

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense attorney, 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. OSHA’s Renewed Emphasis on Falls in the Construction Industry

    Florida OSHA Lawyer Equipment
    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Regional Emphasis Programs are strategies that focus on mitigating hazards that pose a particular risk to industries within a given region. The United States is broken up into 10 regions. Region 4 includes Florida as well as Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. While these programs address several different industries, we will be focusing on the one that is most relevant to the Florida construction industry: falls in construction. For any questions regarding fall prevention and OSHA compliance, consult a Florida OSHA lawyer

    Preventing Falls in Construction 

    Fall protection remains the most commonly cited OSHA violation. In Region 4, the Fall Regional Emphasis Program resulted in 2,343 inspections, 1,653 fall protection violations, and 893 scaffolding violations. Considering its current construction boom, Florida is a major contributor to these violations. 

    Program outreach is intended to inform employers on how to reduce or eliminate the hazards that are uniquely affecting their region. Outreach can be in the form of “informational mailings, training at local tradeshows, or speeches at meetings or labor organizations.” You may have already heard of OSHA’s emphasis on fall protection. However, this emphasis doesn’t apply to outreach alone. 

    An Emphasis on Inspections 

    The Fall Regional Emphasis Program also focuses on inspections and interventions. As stated in the OSHA Regional Notice, inspectors will be traveling and on the lookout for construction workers who are working at elevations that may be considered hazardous. In the event that an inspector sees such a worker, they will attempt to obtain authorization from the area office to begin the inspection/intervention, which is normally granted. However, the inspector can begin a limited inspection/intervention if the area office cannot be contacted. 

    Making Fall Protection a Priority

    With OSHA’s renewed focus on falls, construction companies must also make fall protection a priority. You can do this by implementing a fall protection plan that consists of proper training, rescue plans, fall arrest systems, and fall hazard identification. In addition to remaining OSHA compliant, you must always be prepared in the event that an inspector makes an unannounced visit to your jobsite. To ensure that you are doing everything you can to remain OSHA compliant and keep your workforce safe, 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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  3. 3 Proactive Ways to Protect Your Jobsite Part 2

    Tennessee OSHA Defense Attorney Foreman
    No contractor ever wants to hear from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If you receive a request from an OSHA inspector to visit your jobsite, or worse, you receive a citation, consult a Tennessee OSHA defense lawyer

    In this two-part article, the construction lawyers of Cotney Construction Law are discussing three proactive ways that contractors can mitigate safety risks before OSHA audits their workplace. In the first part, our Tennessee OSHA defense attorneys discussed the importance of a risk assessment. In this part, we will shift our focus to training initiatives and having a third-party audit performed. 

    2) Effective Communication and Safety Training

    We previously discussed performing a risk assessment before work commences on a project. Although it’s important to recognize safety hazards, this is a useless exercise if you don’t effectively communicate the present risks to everyone on the jobsite. Safety training and communicating risks are necessities in the construction industry. 

    Here are a few tips to bolster your safety training program: 

    • Consistency is Key: Safety training should be a methodical and ongoing process, not a one-time lesson. A consistent message and prompt updates are essential to a great safety plan. As the scope of work changes, the safety plan should also evolve.  
    • Endless Assessment: As workers gain more responsibilities, they need to understand how to apply safety practices to their new role. Similarly, if certain workers experience increased risk, they require additional training. 
    • All-Inclusive Training: The most effective plans allow workers to provide feedback and learn through hands-on training. It’s important to create an environment that promotes learning and communication on all levels. 

    The key to effective safety training is to keep your workers attentive and willing to learn new practices. Avoid antiquated practices like safety lectures and instead allow your workers to be integrated directly into the training methods. When safety training becomes an active and consistent part of your operations, it keeps workers fresh and excited to learn new things. 

    3) The Benefits of a Third-Party Audit

    Contractors need to proactively consider their options before an OSHA inspection. A great alternative to waiting for OSHA is to hire a third-party safety auditor. There are many benefits to hiring a Tennessee OSHA defense lawyer to assess the safety requirements of your jobsite, including:

    • Knowledgeable: A construction attorney understands the nuances of the industry and has experience auditing all kinds of jobsites. They can assess your site and provide specific recommendations to ensure OSHA compliance. 
    • Professional: A third-party audit allows an outside professional that isn’t closely familiar with the site to objectively assess the site’s safety. This can provide an accurate evaluation as this professional will not overlook any aspect of the jobsite.    
    • Lower the Risk: What’s the worst thing that can happen when you invest in a third-party audit from Cotney Construction Law? If a problem is discovered, you mitigate risks and improve safety practices. It’s better to have your site audited than to receive a citation.       

    If you would like to speak with a Tennessee 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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  4. 3 Proactive Ways to Protect Your Jobsite Part 1

    OSHA Lawyers Foreman
    If you want to avoid a visit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you need to be proactive. In this two-part article, an OSHA lawyer will give you a few straightforward tips to avoid costly citations. If you have recently experienced a penalty for a safety violation, consult the OSHA lawyers at Cotney Construction Law today. We offer construction firms aggressive defense against OSHA citations.

    1) Risk Assessments and the Safety of Your Site

    Before work commences on a project, there should always be a risk assessment in place. A risk assessment is the process of gathering information and determining the amount of risk present on a project. The point of a risk assessment is to reduce risk, improve safety, and achieve project goals. 

    As the American Society of Safety Professionals states, when performing a risk assessment, a project manager needs to identify both “tangible and intangible sources of risk.” There are three stages of a risk assessment:

    • Phase One: Hazard identification is the first and most crucial stage of a risk assessment. It’s best for contractors to have a checklist available to help identify hazards. Potential risks can be everything from physical hazards to chemical exposure or the surrounding environment.  
    • Phase Two: After you discover risks, the next step is to determine the severity of each hazard and decide what risks need to be addressed first. The process of prioritizing action to mitigate risks is referred to as a risk analysis. From here, the contractor can determine the best course of action to take and proceed accordingly.  
    • Phase Three: After the necessary corrections have been made to the site, it’s important to review the results of the assessment. A risk evaluation is often an overlooked phase of an assessment. It’s important to analyze results and determine what additional controls need to be put in place to ensure jobsite safety in the future.     

    Although a risk assessment is a vital part of reducing safety risks on a jobsite, it’s also important to effectively communicate the risks present on the jobsite. If you are interested in learning about effective on-the-job safety training and communication, 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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