OSHA to Improve COVID-19 Guidance

The last year has demanded a lot from the construction industry, and really all industries and communities.  In a short time, we have been forced to adapt to new conditions at an unprecedented pace, altering daily operations and job site conditions to meet the level of safety required to stay in business and keep our employees safe.  In addition to the impact that it had and continues to have on businesses, the personal lives and families of every company’s employees and clients have been deeply impacted and in need of support from all angles.

Despite these challenges, the roofing and construction industries continue to march on, and at the start of the new year we have seen new leadership push OSHA to improve guidelines for COVID-19 as they pertain to worker safety.  On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order that directs OSHA to issue revised, science-based guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the order “Protecting Workers from COVID-19 Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” President Biden wrote, “Ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative. The Federal Government must take swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace.”

The order also pushes OSHA to consider the following:

  • To determine if emergency temporary standards (ETS) on COVID-19 are necessary, including the wearing of masks in the workplace. If emergency standards are deemed necessary, they are to be issued by March 15. 
  • Enforcement of worker health and safety requirements
  • Partner with state and local governments to better protect public employees
  • Develop additional resources to help employers protect employees
  • Launch a national program with a focus on OSHA enforcement related to COVID-19 violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk.
  • Coordinate a multilingual outreach campaign to inform workers and their representatives of their rights under applicable law. 

While OSHA had released safety tips and a social distancing alert in Spring of 2020, the recent executive order states that OSHA must review enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 and “identify any short-, medium-, and long-term changes that could be made to better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement.”

Just as with any safety programs, review and revisions of guidelines are required to ensure that they are meeting the needs and changing conditions on the job.  With new and improved COVID-19 guidance in place, there is potential to not only limit the spread of the virus, but to better track and trace infection in the workplace, and within the industry.

To learn about how Brauner Safety Services can provide assessments and custom safety training programs to ensure that you and your crews are properly equipped and prepared for all conditions on the job, contact Brauner Safety Services.

Article Update (as of 02/04/21): Since this article was published, OSHA has released updated workplace safety guidance for employers that advises the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The guidance does not create new legal obligations and offers advice on safety issues, such as ventilation, workplace cleaning and isolating employees. To learn more, visit OSHA’s National News Release.

Making Safety a Priority in 2021

There is no denying that 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year.  From the struggles businesses and families have faced directly as a result of COVID-19 to the complete altering of how we work, live, and communicate, the only consistent thing throughout the year has been change.  And if there is anything that we can learn as business owners and contractors it is to expect, and be prepared for, the unexpected.

Although there is no way to be completely prepared for every possible event (certainly not a global pandemic), there is a way to lessen the impact of risks associated with your day-to-day operations, both on and off the job site.  As once stated by Dwight Eisenhower, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Taking this statement into account, we know that plans often don’t go “according to plan”, and for this reason is it important to plan ahead.  In contrast to plans, the act of planning forces us to stop and take time to carefully develop and discuss actions that will be taken in any given scenario.  The perfect example of this is your safety policies and procedures.  The planning that is in place for what may occur on the job site is exactly what enables your crews to be aware of potential hazards and to know what preventative measures and equipment to use to mitigate said hazards.

Think about this… According to OSHA approximately 20 percent (1,061) of worker fatalities in private industry during calendar year 2019 were in construction; this accounts for one in five worker deaths for the year.  Looking at the figures further, out of those fatalities more than half (58.6%) were caused by the “Fatal Four”: Falls (33.5% of construction worker deaths); Struck by object (11.1% of construction worker deaths); electrocutions (8.5% of construction worker deaths); and caught in/between (5.5% of construction worker deaths).  All of these hazards can be prevented with proper safety training and use of safety equipment.

Additionally, safety training provides a multitude of benefits that go far beyond basic health and injury prevention.  As highlighted in a previous post, “5 Reasons to Invest in Safety Training”, safety training is an investment that pays back in innumerable ways. It is not only an investment to ensure that your next construction project is a success, but it is also an investment in the success and security of your team members and crews. There is a direct correlation between a contractor’s training programs and its growth, competitiveness, financial stability, and safety record.  A strong and regularly maintained safety program is a solid investment in the success of your business for several reasons:

  1. Reduce Risk – Safety training prepares employees for the unexpected and encourages them to be proactive in identifying risks on the job; additionally, it sharpens their skills and knowledge base, empowering them to make clear decisions and take measures to reduce risk while under pressure and on the spot.
  2. Avoid OSHA Fines – OSHA violations are costly on many levels, including increased risk for injuries and serious damage to a company’s reputation. By securing OSHA training such as OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 by Brauner Safety Services, you can rest assured knowing that your crews are trained in the proper measures to stay safe and compliant with OSHA’s standards.
  3. Build Company Trust – When you provide safety training to your teams and crews, they know that the company is making their safety and well-being a top priority. Proper training increases employee satisfaction, motivation and morale, which builds trust and loyalty between both the employer and employee.
  4. Build Trust with Clients – When you inform your clients that your crews are trained to handle any situation on the job site and are following appropriate safety measures, you provide them with a sense of relief that those working in and around their property will complete the project safely and effectively.
  5. Reduce Costs and Liability – Proper and regular safety training programs reduce accidents and protect employees from injuries on the job.

The truth is that any time is a good time to begin strengthening your safety training program, but with the new year comes new opportunity – So, now is the time to not get wrapped up in “plans” for 2021; rather begin “planning” your proactive safety program so you can be ready for anything the new year will bring.

To learn about how Brauner Safety Services can provide assessments and custom safety training programs to ensure that you and your crews are properly equipped and prepared for all conditions on the job, contact Brauner Safety Services.

5 Tips to Prepare Construction Sites for a Shutdown

Nobody wants to think about, but everybody is talking about it – the dreaded Covid-19 shutdowns. Depending on where you are in the United States right now, you could be in quarantine, hearing news of impending closures or completely free and clear of shutdowns for a while. No matter where you are or what the infection rate may be for your community today, it is time to have a plan; if there is one thing this pandemic has taught us is to be prepared, for anything.  The state of business, safety precautions and requirements have been seemingly fluid and evolving over the last several months, and even if you don’t have a mandated shutdown planned for now or in the near future, chances are that there could be one down the road. 

For this reason, here are a few tips for being proactive and having a plan in case you are required to shut down a job site and/or operations for any reason:

  1. Communicate – Depending on your backlog and current load of projects, you most likely have open jobs at varying stages.  If you have not already done so, now is the time to have open communication with your clients about your plan and procedures should a shutdown be on the horizon.  Inform them of how their job site will be handled and secured, as well as any impact it will have on the project timeline.  Even if your area is not subject to a shutdown in the near future, your client will appreciate you keeping them informed, rather than alarmed at the last minute.
  2. Speed it up (when possible) – Do you have a few jobs that could be put on the fast track at this point?  While the ultimate goal for any construction professional is to be on time and on (or under) budget with every project, it is important that if you have any potential for early completion of a job that you consider speeding up the process now.  The fewer projects that you have open if a shutdown is put into play, the better.
  3. Secure it – Securing materials on a job site should be an integral part every project, but in the case of a shut down, your security measures may be spread thin.  For this reason, it is important to have a plan for securing and/or storing roofing materials, equipment and access to your projects should you need to put them on hold for an unexpected and extended period of time.
  4. Take Care of Employees – Just as you should be transparent with clients about potential shutdowns, you should also keep communication open with your employees.  How will you handle a shutdown?  How will it impact payroll, schedules, and their employment upon returning?  Let them know what to expect so that they can feel secure in their position with your company and remain engaged on the job while you are still fully operational.  For all office and other positions that can work from home, have clear expectations and processes in place for managing duties, and tracking/reporting progress.
  5. Make Use of Time – In the case that your business is impacted by a shutdown, plan on using the additional time to address team development and safety training.  If you cannot have crew members out on projects, consider keeping them connected through attending regular meetings (via Zoom), working on team building and educational development, as well as reinforcing safety training.  From Fall Protection, CERTA, OSHA and COVID-19 safety training programs, Brauner Safety Services can help you convert down time into valuable time for safety and team development.

As once stated by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Through being proactive and planning now, you can be sure for the best possible outcome and success down the road. 


With more than 40 years of experience, Jim Brauner (Brauner Safety Services) is a trusted leader in job site safety training and CERTA.  At Brauner Safety Services, we take pride in driving OSHA and CERTA training standards forward, focusing on efficiency, quality and safety.  Jim Brauner offers custom and personalized safety education programs and CERTA training throughout the contiguous United States.  To book your safety consultation or training, contact Jim Brauner today.

Employee Feedback and Safety Plans

If you follow OSHA on social media, then you may have recently noticed their Safety Tip for the Day “Support worker input to develop training on specific workplace hazards.”

While most of OSHA’s safety tips are useful and provide a nice refresher when thinking about company safety policies and procedures, this particular tip stood out to me for a few reasons… Often times when a company is putting together its regulations and policies, employees (with the exception of Human Resources) are rarely surveyed for their input.  Sure, certain departments may be involved with new policies that relate to their specific department or area of expertise, but when it comes to safety, crews are not always as involved as they should be in identifying safety training needs and requirements.

So, take a moment to ask yourself this important question: “What does my company do to empower crew members to provide input and feedback regarding safety?”  If you really think about it, there is no better source for information about your job sites than your crew members.  They are not only responsible for their own safety on the job by following company policy and OSHA standards, but they are responsible for each other.  And while you may have a few team players who are willing to speak up about an employee who is breaking the rules, how many will speak up about weaknesses they find in your company’s safety plan?  Chance are that very few crew members will argue with a company about the rules and regulation that are in place, even if they notice weaknesses, deficiencies or policies that are outdated or need improvement.

This is where proper safety training and communication come into play.  Safety training programs don’t just happen – They need to be carefully developed in conjunction with and for your crews.  While there are obvious standards that will always be a part of your safety program, it is important to take the time to evaluate (and revaluate) your training, policies and procedures to ensure that you are creating the safest possible workplace for your team and clients. 

Safe jobs and workplaces exist because employers make a conscious decision to make protecting workers a priority in the workplace. According to OSHA, when this effort includes participation from workers, workplace injury and illness prevention programs are improved because workers can identify missing safety procedures, make recommendations for changes and help ensure a safe workplace. When workers have a voice in the workplace and feel safe to provide input about how training is developed, the safety training programs are more accurately focused on specific workplace hazards.

Creating a safe team means creating a culture of safety. To put it simply, employees must feel safe to speak up about safety (and other areas of your business).  There must be opportunities presented where employees are not only encouraged but expected to provide feedback without fear of judgment or losing their position within the company. Some of the ways that a company can gain solid feedback from their employees include:

  1. Surveys – Create an online and anonymous survey to all employees.
  2. Safety Meetings – Add a “feedback forum” to the agenda of every safety meeting.
  3. Performance Reviews – When conducting performance reviews, engage in transparent and open conversation about what employees think can be improved upon in your safety plan.
  4. Comment Box – If you don’t already have one, place a suggestion box that can be easily accessed by crew members, allowing them to provide honest and anonymous feedback.
  5. Bring in a Specialist – By having a third-party specialist such as Brauner Safety Services conduct a review,  employees often feel supported to speak up and provide input knowing that they are working with an objective party who is in place specifically to review and improve the safety program.

By including your crews and team members in the safety training and development process, you can create a culture of safety and inclusivity that empowers employees to take ownership of their role in the company, and as leaders on the job.


With more than 40 years of experience, Jim Brauner (Brauner Safety Services) is a trusted leader in job site safety training and CERTA.  At Brauner Safety Services, we take pride in driving OSHA and CERTA training standards forward, focusing on efficiency, quality and safety.  Jim Brauner offers custom and personalized safety education programs and CERTA training throughout the contiguous United States.  To book your safety consultation or training, contact Jim Brauner today.

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