In a recent OSHA awareness seminar we learned that after the new fall protection standard is phased in that OSHA will likely conduct residential construction site sweeps in Massachusetts. One contractor asked if they would go to the Cape and the response was any area in the region is possible. Once the outreach period has run its course and the winter weather recedes it will be easy to see residential job sites. In areas like the South Shore, Cape Cod and the Islands and Middlesex Counties there have been a lot of injuries, deaths and fines. No one knows exactly when OSHA will be on the road but with spring here it appears it is just a matter of time. The question is how many contractors are going to be ready? Check out Mason and Mason blog post on OSHA sweeps
Here are a couple of jobs from Metrowest in Massachusetts that were sent to me last fall by contractors from our Fall Protection Training. If OSHA sees this they will surely stop in for an OSHA audit.
We think that primary focus will be given to roofers, framers, painters, siding contractors and those working outside on levels 6 feet above lower levels.
Regarding other areas in Region 1 especially Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island we are hearing from contractors looking for help handling OSHA compliance. One recent contractor from Middlesex County was just hit for his third OSHA fine for fall protection violations. The entire Region 1 area is under two Local Emphasis Programs (LEP's). One for the residential industry and one for fall hazards. Region 1 OSHA's number one focus for enforcement is fall hazards in the residential construction sector.
In order to be in compliance with the OSHA Fall Protection Directive contractors must do the following;
- Write a fall protection plan
- When workers are exposed to fall hazards of 6 feet above lower levels employers must ensure that workers use guard rails, safety nets and fall arrest systems.
- Contractors must train their workers and document the training.
- If contractors do not use guard rails, safety nets or fall arrest systems they must write a site specific plan on how they will protect their workers. Then each worker must be trained on the site specific plan.
Note; OSHA defines workers as any worker on the site, including employees and sub contractors.
Multiple Employer Fines
In the event a general contractor hires a sub contractor who is not complying with the fall protection standards that general contractor can be also be cited and fined. When hiring sub contractors general contractors should make sure that in the sub contractor agreement there is a provision requiring compliance with OSHA standards. General Contractors should request a copy of their sub contractors written fall protection plan, safety manual and documentation that their workers have been trained in order to protect the GC's interest and lessen their risk.