How many of you out there have been on a project or in a facility and the word spread that OSHA was there? For most employers when this happens, the reactions tend to be the same, and what they do is consistent, shut down and stop working. My question to you is, why? I’m not an advocate for stopping work unless you absolutely must. OSHA has a job to do and so do you. Why shut down if you’re not doing anything wrong? The reason is fear, fear of the unknown when OSHA shows up. Why are they here? Am I doing something wrong? Are there any violations? Our pulse begins to race, we may start sweating, our blood pressure rises. All are physiological responses to stress and fear.
Now instead of shutting down our projects because of the unknown, wouldn’t it be better if we’re aware and know the realities of our projects? Do you know the standards that govern your projects? The whole reason OSHA is around is for the development and enforcement of the construction and general industry standards. Standards that were created to help ensure employees go home safe each day.
I’m sure everyone has heard of them, maybe some of you have even read them. Though, most people go their entire career without knowing the rules we’re supposed to follow. As a safety professional, it’s been my responsibility to understand the rules that applied to the people I work with. To help my teams work within these rules and still be productive. These rules are the 1926 Construction and the 1910 General Industry standards. I’m not going to tell you that I’ve read them all, I’m also not going to tell you that I agree with everything that is in the standards. Some of the standards are old and antiquated. Others are written in such a manner that it’s very difficult to understand or to follow. Unfortunately, though, these are the laws we’re given, and we need to learn how to work safely while following them.
To help alleviate our fear and run a safe project, a better understanding of these standards and regulations should be a priority for all employers. You need to understand what rules you are required to follow and what affects your employees. Once you understand what affects your employees, I strongly recommend that you spend the time to educate them on the rules and standards as well.
Fear is a very powerful emotion and can lead us all to make bad choices. The more education and training we can give our employees will lower the fear, which hopefully, will lead to better decisions on our projects and in turn lead to a safer employee and project.
We do not need to fear OSHA showing up on our projects or at our place of business. We need to understand the rules and mitigate the hazards. This understanding comes from training, training and more training.
If you would like to know what OSHA is looking for on your projects, call us at 1(800) 819-6092. We can come to your site to perform a mock OSHA inspection. The first inspection is always free!