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Contractors must train workers before they are exposed to the hazards

Posted by Mark Paskell on Sat, May 04, 2013 @ 12:13 PM

Contractors in the residential construction industry are starting to see OSHA more frequently on their job sites as a result of targeted industry status.  The big focus for most OSHA enforcement officersis fall hazards on residential job sites. We are also starting to see a focus on training workers.

Employer exposing workers to serious fall hazards in Spencer, Massachusetts.Fall Hazards in Spencer Mass

Wednesday I taught a Mass/EPA Differences RRP Class for CSL CEU's to a large group of contractors on what OSHA expects employers to do before their workers are exposed to hazards on their projects. I stated that OSHA requires that all employers including contractors, train workers before they are exposed to job site hazards. Many in the group were surprised and visibly emotional about the topic.
Every OSHA standard that requires training specifies that all workers exposed to the hazard must be trained before they are exposed to the hazard. This presents a challenge to most residential contractors who historically have little or nor training on OSHA protocol. Most residential contractors don't have OSHA 10 training, safety programs or manuals and have not trained their workers. As far as making sure and requiring that subs are trained one contractor from New York said "forgetta bout it". 

Many general contractors and large builders are requiring that subs have OSHA 10/30 certifications and safety program prior to working on their projects. We are also seeing a trend where some homeowners, property management companies, and private industry are requiring proof of OSHA training. Contractors who do both residential and commercial work are getting trained on OSHA safety and developing training programs with manuals.   

There are three groups of workers working on contractors job sites and all must be trained before exposure to hazards:

  • Employees
  • Sub-contractors
  • Temporary workers

A question posed in our training was who is responsible for training the workers? 

The first priority to have a safe and healthy work site is the responsibility of the Prime Contractor. This is usually the contractor who signs the contract for the job with the owner.

Employees: the contractor must develop and produce a training program, have a competent person train the employees, certify the training and maintain a record of the certification. The training program is usually a part of the E & H Safety Manual.

Sub-contractors: the prime contractor needs to makes sure the subcontractor and his employees are safe on the site. The prime contractor does not usually train the subcontractor and his employees. Instead the prime contractor can require that the subcontractor produces proof that he and his workers are trained on the hazards they are exposed to on the site. The prime contractor will likely require proof of training, a copy of the certification for workers and a copy of safety plans and manuals showing the subcontractor has met the requirements of OSHA training. Often times the prime contractor will insert a clause in the sub-contractor agreement requiring that the sub adhere to all OSHA Standards while working on the job site.

Temporary workers: the prime contractor who uses day labor or temporary labor must ensure that all workers form this group are trained before they are exposed to hazards. Often times the prime contractor will require the temporary agency to provide training and proof of certification as a condition for employment. If there is no proof of training then the prime contractor must train the temporary workers before exposing them to job site hazards.

What about 1099 independent contractors? the prime contractor must make sure they are trained and should ask to see proof of training or provide the training.

What about illegal aliens working on the job site? The Prime contractor must either train them or verfiy that they are trained. OSHA is not concerned about the legal status, they are concerned about the safety of the worker.

What about sole proprietors working alone for a homeowner? OSHA has no jurisdiction over them. However if a sole proprietor brings in a helper whom he pays to work on the job, the sole proprietor is required to make sure the helper is trained before he is exposed to any hazards.

If you have questions or need assistance with your training program and safety manual development contact Mark.

Tags: osha training for workers