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.

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; 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.

Here are five reasons why safety training is a smart and solid investment in the success of your business:

  1. Reduce Risk – If you follow @BraunerSafety on Twitter, then you may have caught a glimpse of the latest post on how roofing was recently ranked the fourth most dangerous job in the U.S. due to a higher rate of fatal injuries and risks. According to OSHA, in CY 2018, roofers were one of the occupations listed as having fatality rates more than 10 times the all-worker rate of 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers. Empowering and training crews is the key to mitigating such risks, and by keeping team members sharp and adept in the latest safety measures, your company can greatly reduce the risk of being a statistic.
  2. OSHA – OSHA violations are costly on many levels, damaging a company’s reputation and impacting the bottom line. More importantly, often such violations demonstrate that employees are at risk of injuries and fatalities.  By securing OSHA training such as OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 by Brauner Safety Services, you can rest assured knowing that your crews are aware of the proper measures to take in order to stay safe and compliant with OSHA’s standards.
  3. Build Company Trust – When you provide safety training to your team and crews, they know that the company takes their safety and well-being seriously and makes it a priority. In general, training increases employee satisfaction, motivation and morale, and secure and satisfied employees usually lead to lower turnover rates and increased company loyalty. A healthy relationship between crews and company management that is built on trust is vital to a successful company culture.  Whether team members are new or have been onboard for years, everyone can use a safety refresher; after all, if your crews are not up-to-date on the latest technology, equipment and applications, then they are not operating at optimal performance levels and are at increased risk for incidence.
  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. Safety training can also be an attractive attribute and competitive advantage when marketing your company’s services to future customers.
  5. Reduce Costs and Liability – Proper and regular safety training programs reduce accidents and protect employees from injuries on the job, saving your company the cost of lost time, decreased productivity and increased insurance premiums.

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.

 

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 worksite. The author  takes no responsibility whatsoever for any person’s/entity’s use of or application of information provided on this website.

Why Safety Training is Important

How do you ensure a safe crew on the job?  The answer is easy – safety training.  As a roofing and construction professional, safety should be a top priority for all of your crew members and on all of your job sites.  According to OSHA, there were approximately 5,250 worker fatalities recorded for calendar year 2018, reflecting a 2 percent increase from the 5,147 in 2017— on average, more than 100 a week or more than 14 deaths every day.  Out of those, approximately 20 percent were in construction, and in CY 2018, roofers were one of the occupations listed as having fatality rates more than 10 times the all-worker rate of 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers.

As reported and published by OSHA, the leading causes of private sector worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. These Fatal Four were responsible for more than half (58.6%) the construction worker deaths in 2018. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save nearly 600 workers’ lives in America every year.

focusfour
source: OSHA.gov

Such fatalities can be prevented with proper training of crews, appropriate safety equipment and preparation; by assessing and reducing such costly and life-threatening hazards on your job site, you would significantly lower your risk of having a crew member become a statistic.

As in previous years, Fall Protection continues to be the #1 most cited OSHA standard, and for this reason, it is important to have not only the proper fall protection equipment, but the proper training. Employers must be proactive and set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling.

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of six feet or greater in the construction industry, and fall protection must be provided to all employees working over dangerous equipment and machinery no matter the fall distance.

According to OSHA’s website, there are a number of areas that an employer can address to prevent crews from being injured from a fall injury; those preventative steps are published as follows:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.

While most employers do not have a large enough operation to conduct safety training in-house, it is still their responsibility to follow OSHA’s standards and ensure crews are following proper safety procedures.  Brauner Safety Services can provide consultations and customized training programs at your office or on the job, as well as develop safety policy and procedure for your team.  The investment made in training now will more than pay off down the line by avoiding costly penalties and heavy losses.  Another major benefit is that training can boost team morale and give your employees the confidence they need to focus on the job knowing that their employer cares about their well-being and safety in the workplace.

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 worksite. 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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