Keeping tabs on regulation changes and your construction business
Stay up-to-date with regulation changes while managing the business side of your construction firm.
It's unfortunate, but accidents happen. Staying current with safety regulations may help prevent accidents and save lives, and it may help you ensure your construction business remains compliant with changing laws.
So how can you make sure your construction business is up-to-date on all state and federal safety requirements?
To free up your time, assign one person in your firm to follow and implement regulation changes, says Jules Griggs, President and CEO of Safety Unlimited, Inc., an OSHA compliant safety training and consultancy firm in Simi Valley, California. Depending on the size of your company, you may even want to have a team in charge of all things relating to work safety.
"It starts with putting someone in charge of it," Griggs says. "If you don't assign that responsibility, typically it's not going to get done."
Once you've chosen someone to manage safety regulations, you need to ensure he or she receives the proper training. Griggs recommends enrolling a representative of your business in the OSHA 30-hour construction class, which can be completed online or in a classroom setting. You may also benefit from sitting in on the class.
"Even if you've been in the construction industry for years, you'll learn a lot of important information in this course," he says.
Allocate time for safety
After you and/or your chosen safety manager has completed training, make sure you've allotted enough time to do the job. Depending on the size of your business and the number of job sites you operate, keeping track of and implementing all safety requirements could take anywhere from three hours a week to three hours a day.
"Once you get the basic 30-hour training, it's about being able to do research and having enough time to really do it," Griggs says.
Fortunately, regulation changes don't always happen overnight. For example, a recent hazard communication regulation change was on the table for three years before taking effect.
Additionally, tracking and researching regulation updates — including electrical safety, CPR training, first aid kit requirements, injury prevention, fire extinguishers, ladder and fall safety programs, and other specific safety issues — can be managed online.
Follow safety publications
Griggs recommends subscribing to the OSHA newsletter, OSHA QuickTakes, which provides updates on any federal changes or proposed federal changes twice a month, as well as hazard awareness, and other occupational safety news. The Department of Labor and the Federal Register are also useful online resources for any upcoming construction code changes.
You'll also need to know whether the state(s) in which you operate have their own OSHA-approved State Plan, which may have stricter regulations. The OSHA website has a list of states with plans for government and private sector workplaces as well as states with plans for government workplaces only.
Don't ignore regulations
Failure to comply with mandated regulations could cost you. If a worker is injured or killed on a job site and OSHA finds that the proper training and safety programs were not in place prior to the accident, penalties can range from $12,675 to $126,749 per violation, as of 2017.
Beyond the financial cost, however, is the personal one. If you're an employer, you have a responsibility to keep your employees safe, Griggs says.
"We all wear our seatbelt 10,000 times for the one time something goes wrong," he says. "Construction companies have to have that same mentality. Ignorance is no excuse."
Once you have a handle on managing safety regulations, make sure you have additional protections, such as worker's compensation insurance, lined up.