COVID-19 and the Construction Industry

Here's How You Can Protect Your Business

Monthly Archives: February, 2020

  1. OSHA to Focus on Leading Indicators

    As opposed to lagging indicators, leading indicators are proactive measures that can bring attention to issues in your current safety program. Because of the effectiveness of leading indicators at spotting problems, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken an increased focus on leading indicators and is encouraging employers to do the same. 

    Below, a Texas OSHA lawyer discusses everything contractors need to know about leading indicators. Specifically, we’ll be discussing the OSHA resource Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety and Health Outcomes. By embracing leading indicators, employers can prevent injuries, thereby preventing an untimely visit and citation from OSHA. 

    Leading Indicators Vs. Lagging Indicators 

    Lagging indicators measure the frequency of injuries on the jobsite that occurred in the past. Although great for determining if a hazard exists, it’s a reactive measure that only allows a hazard to be addressed after it results in an injury. “Today, EHS practitioners continue to rely on injury rates, absenteeism, and other lagging metrics despite the growing acceptance of the fact that these failure-focused measures are ineffective in driving continuous improvement efforts,” posits the Campbell Institute. By contrast, leading indicators allow employers to take preventative measures to address hazards by highlighting early warning signs. 

    Related: 3 Proactive Ways to Protect Your Jobsite

    OSHA uses the acronym SMART to indicate good leading indicators. Smart stands for: 

    • Specific: Leading indicators should provide specifics for achieving a goal related to preventing hazards and injury. 
    • Measurable: Leading indicators should provide measurable data to highlight clear trends. 
    • Accountable: Leading indicators should track trends that are relevant to your goal. 
    • Reasonable: You should be able to reasonably achieve the goal you created. 
    • Timely: Leading indicators should be tracked regularly. 

    An example that OSHA uses is the number of workers who attend regularly scheduled safety meetings. In this example, a company notices that, although they have monthly safety meetings, a number of their employees are not attending. Meeting attendance is the leading indicator, and the goal is to drive up attendance, thereby spreading awareness and preventing injury. This is an excellent example; however, the leading indicators that are appropriate for your company may be completely different.

    Related: Understanding OSHA’s Investigation Process 

    Selecting and Using a Leading Indicator 

    There are three approaches to selecting a leading indicator: using previously collected data, addressing an identified hazard, and improving an already established safety program. OSHA recommends that employers use the approach that’s best for them — a combination of these approaches may even be appropriate. 

    Related: 5 Tips for Conducting an Effective Safety Training Course

    Our OSHA lawyers suggest selecting a leading indicator that’s related to a hazard that is the greatest risk to your workers — head injuries from falling debris, for example. Once a leading indicator has been chosen, you should set a goal that aligns with it. So if your leading indicator is the frequency that scaffolding is cleared of debris, your goal would be to increase the number of times the scaffolding is cleared. Next, communicate with your team to ensure that everyone understands the indicator, goal, and method for tracking the indicator. You can then take action to make your goal a reality, all the while collecting data. Using our example, you could fill out a checklist to keep track of how often your workers clear the scaffolding of debris. 

    Related: OSHA in Texas: Misconceptions

    Review your progress regularly and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way — this isn’t an exact science. Discovering new ways to prevent injury is a time-consuming yet rewarding process for any contractor willing to invest in worker safety. 

    Investing in Worker Safety 

    As OSHA states in the 18-page document, “In addition to the social benefits, employers that use leading indicators to find and fix hazards can realize direct savings to their bottom line. These include savings in repair costs, production costs, workers’ compensation costs, and other legal and regulatory costs that are commonly associated with incidents.” Taking OSHA’s lead and developing an action plan based on leading indicators can be incredibly beneficial for your business. While it can in no way guarantee that OSHA won’t visit your project site, it can ensure that you are prepared if OSHA comes knocking. 

     

    In the event that OSHA visits your jobsite and issues a citation despite your best intentions, consider speaking with one of our Texas OSHA defense lawyers. Not only can our team of construction attorneys defend you, but they can also recommend preventative measures like leading indicators that will help to ensure that your jobsite is free from recognized hazards that could lead to injury or death. 

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA 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. Why Construction Firms Need an OSHA Defense Lawyer for their Job Site

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal government agency that was created to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees throughout numerous industries, including construction. Year after year, there are countless workplace accidents that occur on construction sites because of unsafe work conditions. To reduce workplace accidents and fatalities, OSHA enforces robust health and safety regulations and conducts routine inspections of job sites to ensure employee safety. 

    If you are a contractor who was recently issued a citation by OSHA, Florida OSHA defense lawyers can help you dispute a citation and maintain a safe workplace. Through our comprehensive audit procedure, we make certain that your firm is protected from workplace liabilities.  

    Preventing Unnecessary Fines and Violations

    As stated above, OSHA exists to protect employees from oversights or negligence that can lead to bodily harm or unsafe workplaces. Although it is a joint effort between a contractor and their employees to maintain a safe workplace, responsibility ultimately falls on the contractor for any violation of OSHA’s extensive rules and regulations. OSHA’s regulations are amended annually, so Florida contractors should regularly communicate with their Florida OSHA defense lawyers to ensure that they are in compliance with any and all safety laws. Contractors with any concerns over the safety of their workplace should schedule for one of our OSHA defense lawyers to perform a job site audit to ensure a safe work environment. 

    Related: Important OSHA Facts for Contractors

    Know Your Rights as a Florida Contractor

    Contractors might feel powerless when they receive a fine from OSHA and can be unsure of how to best proceed. However, there are a number of defenses our Florida OSHA defense attorneys can raise to combat any fine. After you have received a citation, OSHA must provide corroborated proof of the alleged incident. Employers have their own set of rights to protect themselves from OSHA and even their own employees.

    Related: An Introduction to OSHA Violation Defense    

    Often times, employee misconduct is a common way for contractors to challenge an OSHA citation. Any violation caused by an employee’s unwillingness to follow the pre-specified guidelines of the job site falls on the individual employee, not the contractor. As Florida OSHA defense lawyers, we represent contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and manufacturers against citations and complaints in the State of Florida. From jobsite audits to safety manual updates and OSHA defense strategies, there are several ways our services can provide your workforce with a safe work environment.

    If you would like to speak with one of our Florida OSHA defense attorneys, 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. How to Prepare for a MIOSHA Inspection on Your Jobsite

    Contractors must remain proactive in the management of their jobsites if they wish to ensure the safety and health of their workers and avoid a citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to OSHA, Michigan employers must comply with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) standards, regulations, and statutory requirements. In this article, a Michigan OSHA lawyer will discuss how to prepare for a MIOSHA inspection on your jobsite. 

    Reason for MIOSHA Inspections

    MIOSHA follows a similar criteria to OSHA when it comes to handling inspections. MIOSHA’s primary reason for conducting an immediate inspection is to assess any cases of “imminent danger,” such as exposed electrical wiring or exposure to fumes. Secondly, MIOSHA gives priority to situations involving fatalities or catastrophes in which multiple workers are hospitalized. Lastly, MIOSHA is obligated to inspect any jobsite that has recently received a complaint regarding safety. 

    Related: Understanding OSHA’s Criteria for Performing Inspections

    Preparation of Written Programs

    Under MIOSHA, employers are required to develop, implement, and maintain written programs. Almost all employers are required to have at least two written programs: Hazard Assessment and a Hazard Communication Program. Depending on your jobsite, you may also require written programs, such as a lockout/tagout program or a respiratory protection program.

    During a MIOSHA inspection, the compliance officer will ask for a copy of each of these programs to be made available. To prepare for inspection, you should have a copy of each of these documents in a protected, easily accessible location. A Michigan OSHA attorney understands MIOSHA policy as well as what MIOSHA inspectors will look for and can assist with the compilation of necessary company records and documents to prepare for an inspection. 

    Prompt Correction of Hazards

    Following an opening conference, the compliance officer and representatives will perform a walkthrough of any portions of the jobsite covered by the inspection. At this point in the inspection, the compliance officer may point out violations that can be immediately corrected. While these hazards must be cited under MIOSHA, prompt correction of these hazards is a sign of good faith on the employer. 

    Related: 6 Tips for Handling an OSHA Citation

    Know Your Rights

    During the opening conference, the compliance officer will explain your rights and responsibilities under MIOSHA. Knowing your rights during and after the inspection process is crucial for ensuring the safety of your jobsite and avoiding an OSHA citation. As a construction employer, you are entitled to a number of rights including but not limited to the right to appeal the department’s decision and the right to participate in a hearing.

    If you receive a citation during the inspection, it is imperative that you contact a Michigan OSHA lawyer who will help you to examine the circumstances surrounding the citation, determine its validity, and, if warranted, create a defense to contest it.

    If you would like to speak with a Michigan OSHA 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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