OSHA Guidance Regarding Coronavirus

man hands people woman

By now, most of us are starting to get accustomed to what is being referred to as “the new normal” – a daily routine consisting of social distancing (6 feet), wearing face coverings in public (or at least enclosed spaces) and washing hands more regularly (minimum 20 seconds).  For some of us, these safety practices are becoming somewhat habitual, and while that is a good thing considering the fact that many states are reopening, not everyone is following the guidelines.  As the economy reopens, much of the population is feeling a little more relaxed as the quarantine phase of life is lifting, but not everyone is on the same page as to what is considered “safe”.

In the workplace, people who are not able to do their jobs remotely may be asked to return to work after they have spent months staying home, avoiding people, places and any sort of contact. This brings up a lot of questions (and sometimes anxiety) around the safety of businesses and workers alike, as not everyone feels safe returning to the office or field.

While restrictions are loosening across the country, this is certainly not a time to loosen your safety standards.  It is quite the opposite; if anything, you should be more clear about new safety expectations on the job, as well as make the added safety standards enforceable.  The idea of being relaxed or holding less restrictions is not ever really an option on a construction site.  The safety of your employees, crews and clients should always be a top priority as a roofing contractor, before, during and after this pandemic passes.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, OSHA has made an effort to provide guidance for employers and businesses within a variety of sectors by publishing basic tips for staying safe under these uncertain conditions. Based on OSHA’s latest guidelines, and as published in their newest document entitled COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce, here are tips for reducing the risk of exposure to Covid-19:

  1. Stay Home When Sick – Although this goes without saying, employers should encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  2. Wear Face Coverings – Allow (and encourage) workers to wear masks, especially indoors and when social distancing is not an option.
  3. Maintain Regular Safety Controls – Continue to use normal control measures that you already have in place for safety on the job; this includes personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to protect workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities.
  4. Stay Socially Distant – Make sure employees avoid physical contact with others, including keeping personal space to at least six feet between employees/contractors/visitors, on-site, in the office and in work trailers.
  5. Provide PPE Training – It is important to not assume that your team members already know how to use and handle masks, gloves, etc. Take the time to train workers on how to properly put on, use/wear, and take off protective clothing and equipment.
  6. Address EtiquetteAccording to the CDC, coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. For this reason, it is important to review proper respiratory etiquette with crews and team members, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  7. Promote Personal Hygiene – This can be a touchy subject, but it is necessary to address hygiene and should not be viewed as a personal statement on anybody’s “cleanliness”. Keeping hands clean is something that must simply become standard practice, and if employees do not have immediate access to soap and water for hand washing on the job site, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide alcohol-based sanitizing solution (minimum 60% alcohol) to keep hands clean.
  8. Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved Cleaning Chemicals – All cleaning products listed on the EPA “List N” or that have verified label claims against the coronavirus are acceptable for cleaning surfaces and shared tools/appliances.
  9. Clean Tools – When tools or equipment must be shared, there is a risk of transferring the virus. For this reason, provide and instruct workers to use alcohol-based wipes to clean tools before and after using shared equipment and as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  10. Limit In-person Meetings – When you simply cannot “Zoom” your meeting or conduct it remotely, OSHA suggests keeping in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, as well as limiting the number of workers in attendance and practicing social distancing.
  11. Keep It Clean – Job site toilets, shared spaces and frequently touched items (i.e., door handles, toilet seats, water dispensers) should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Hand sanitizer dispensers (preferably touchless) should be checked and refilled as needed.
  12. Report Health Concerns – Many people are worried about their job stability should they report not feeling well, or tension on the job due to reporting others who may be exhibiting signs of illness. It is better to be proactive on this matter and have the difficult discussion with your team about why it is important to report and how to report any health and safety concerns in a safe and constructive manner.

To learn more about OSHA’s guidelines as they relate to the current pandemic, as well as have a printable copy to share with your crews and employees, visit OSHA’s publications. To ensure that your team members are safe on the job, contact Brauner Safety Services to strengthen your safety training program and secure roofing safety equipment for your crews.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for general educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or guidance. Moreover, the information provided may not be accurate for circumstances or equipment at an individual facility or specific work site. The author takes no responsibility whatsoever for any person’s/entity’s use of or application of information provided on this website.

Announcement: Brauner Safety Services Launches New Website

New website, new resources, same quality safety training

certa training

With an increased demand for NRCA CERTA Training, Brauner Safety Services is pleased to announce the launch of a new and improved website (CERTATraining.com) specifically designed to meet the needs of roofing contractors and construction professionals.  The objective of launching a separate website, in addition to the current BraunerSafety.com, was to create a service-specific site that is faster, easier to navigate and focused on the vital training necessary for roofers to stay safe and certified when their work involves torch applications.

The CERTA training program is a full-day program that trains experienced roof system installers on the safe use of roofing torches used to apply polymer-modified bitumen roofing products. CERTA training teaches and demonstrates how proper roof system configuration design and application techniques can result in fire-safe installations.

As a leader in roofing and construction safety, Brauner Safety Services recognizes the importance of making information regarding services, safety trends, industry and OSHA standards easily accessible for current and prospective clients.  Through the new website geared specifically to CERTA Training, Brauner Safety Services endeavors to provide its clients and partners with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding CERTA training and industry-specific safety training, sharing the team’s knowledge and expertise in the field of roofing and construction safety education.

Current and prospective clients of Brauner Safety Services will find useful information about CERTA Training and other safety education services on the “Services” pages of the new website. Included in the new features, the site contains integrated social media buttons for Facebook and Twitter to foster improved communication with clients and roofing and construction professionals. Brauner Safety Services plans to update content with helpful information, cutting edge safety strategy, company announcements and client successes in the Blog, and through shared links on social media.  Viewers may also choose to sign up to receive the Brauner Safety Services quarterly e-newsletter.

We invite you to visit CERTATraining.com to learn more about the CERTA Training Torch Applicator Program, OSHA 10/30, Fall Protection and more offered by Brauner Safety Services.  All training and consulting programs are available nationwide and taught on site at your office, job site or other preferred location.

Resources for Contractors during the Coronavirus Pandemic

worker safe mask
source: BBC.com – Getty Images

To say that we are living and working in unpredictable times right now is an understatement.  The status of the health and safety of our communities, country and globe is changing every day, if not every hour (or news brief).  This is a time to make practical and safe decisions for our families, friends and employees, while having an empathetic ear and understanding for every individual’s unique challenges and circumstances.

And while everything may seem to be in flux around us, as roofing and construction professionals one thing that should remain the same is our dedication to the safety and protection of our employees and clients.  In previous posts, we have focused on industry specific risks and safety measures and training that can protect your crews under any and all circumstance, but today, we are focusing specifically on a few of the many resources that are available for contractors to use as they navigate the uncharted waters of this pandemic.  Here are resources worth reviewing as you begin to put new safety and business support measures in place as a result of COVID-19:

  1. CARES Act – The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is in place to provide more than $2 trillion in stimulus to the U.S. economy. As part of the effort to keep small businesses “in business”, there is a newly enacted SBA Paycheck Protection Program which is designed to keep workers employed and small businesses stable during these unpredictable times.  The program allows all businesses with <500 employees or those businesses that would otherwise comply with the size standards under Title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations eligible for SBA loans under the CARES Act until June 30, 2020.  To learn more about eligibility and details regarding the loan program, check out the latest article from Roofing Contractor Magazine.
  2. Know Your State – Depending on the state that you are in, you may be on a complete shutdown, a shelter-in-place order or other guidelines to keep people safe and following CDC guidelines. When it comes to your crews and sending them out to job sites, it is essential that you stay abreast of the latest stipulations.  Some states have listed construction as an essential service, while others (Pennsylvania) have not.  Each day it seems as though guidelines are changing, so be sure to check out Construction Dive’s mapping page to know when your crews can (and cannot) go in the field.
  3. Communicate with Clients and Crews – When talking with clients, set guidelines and inform them of the safety measures you and your crews are taking to keep hands clean and follow social distancing guidelines. This will also be the time to discuss and identify guidelines for entering and exiting the property and confirm any new access points or requirements.  Additionally, your crews will need to receive updates and training on how to work around the property, and each other.  The social distancing requirement applies within your team as well, and to keep everyone safe and healthy, take the time to map out roles, stations and spacing requirements when active on site and working with each other.  Also, be sure to integrate hand washing/hand sanitizing practices before, during and after being on the job, and all employees should dismiss themselves (or be dismissed) should they experience any signs or symptoms of illness.
  4. Protect Your People and Projects – The Associated General Contractors of America recently offered a webinar addressing ways to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infecting people working either in the office or on job sites. The speakers address the standard of care that the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and perhaps the common law, require you to meet. Additionally, the webinar provides practical guidance on the best practices for protecting your people and your projects, covering everything from preventative measures to protocols and procedures for responding to confirmed cases of COVID-19; AGC has made the webinar open to the public, and the video can be accessed here.

While training and proactive measures are the key to keeping business running (where possible), it is also important to be flexible with your teams and business partners.  Everyone is being impacted by this pandemic, and while there should be no wiggle room when it comes to safety, it will benefit everyone in your business to be open and adaptable to new methods for conducting business and working with each other to maintain the health and safety of everyone on your team, and in your community.

To secure the latest safety training for your crews and strengthen your own safety programs, policies and procedures, contact Brauner Safety Services.

 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for general educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or guidance. Moreover, the information provided may not be accurate for circumstances or equipment at an individual facility or specific work site. The author takes no responsibility whatsoever for any person’s/entity’s use of or application of information provided on this website.

Turn Down the Volume and Turn Up the Safety

Safety on the job and the importance of proper ear protection

ear

Wireless headphones are everywhere, and they have quickly made their way from the gym and leisure activities to the office, and even the job site.  While it goes without saying, the use of headphones to listen to music on construction job sites is a dangerous and a serious distraction; it is so dangerous that even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has weighed in on the issue.  In response to an inquiry regarding interpretation of standards last year, OSHA stated: “Listening to music may produce a safety hazard by masking environmental sounds that need to be heard, especially on active construction sites where attention to moving equipment, heavy machinery, vehicle traffic and safety warning signals may be compromised.”

While noise canceling headphones can provide a superior music listening experience by blocking noise in the surrounding environment, they are not suitable for serving as audio protection on the job site.  Although OSHA has not put a specific regulation in place that prohibits the use of headphones on a construction site, the agency has set permissible noise exposure limits and requires all employers to protect employees who may be subject to sound levels exceeding these limits.

OSHA’s Hearing Protection standard requires that employers provide ear protective equipment to employees to be used wherever necessary for the purpose of reducing noise levels below acceptable limits; the limits set by OSHA can be found in OSHA’s standard for Occupational Noise Exposure in construction, 29 CFR 1926.52, which sets permissible noise exposure limits in Table D-2. The standards for acceptable noise exposure limits range from eight hours per day for 90 decibels to a quarter hour or less per day for 115 decibels.

Additionally, other liabilities and risks are increased by headphone distractions including struck-by hazards which is one of the leading four causes of death in the construction industry.  Even in the absence of a specific regulation regarding use of headphones, employers still could face fines and enforcement actions if OSHA identifies a violation within the General Duties Clause, which requires all employers to maintain safe workplaces.  While employers may still choose to allow headphones on the job site, it is critical for workers to be able to hear equipment, safety warnings and signals, alarms, as well as verbal communication from team members on the job.

Even if you have acquired headphones that claim to be OSHA certified or have adjustable volume limits, OSHA reported that they do not register, certify, approve, or endorse commercial or private sector entities, products or services. In other words, no headphones are good headphones for listening to music on the job.  For this reason, it is worth taking the time to review your policies and update team members as necessary to ensure that proper ear protection and procedures are readily available, understood and utilized by all team members on the job.

To secure the latest safety training for your crews and strengthen your own safety programs, policies and procedures, contact Brauner Safety Services.

 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for general educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or guidance. Moreover, the information provided may not be accurate for circumstances or equipment at an individual facility or specific work site. The author takes no responsibility whatsoever for any person’s/entity’s use of or application of information provided on this website.

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