Because it is a high hazard industry, with unique situations and hazards, and employing more than six million workers, a separate set of OSHA standards provide safety and health regulations for construction workers. 29 CFR 1926, Safety and Health Regulations for Construction was established under section 107 of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, and provides the standards for construction safety. There are 27 subparts in OSHA 1926:
- OSHA 1926 Subpart A – General
- OSHA 1926 Subpart B – General Interpretations
- OSHA 1926 Subpart C – General Safety and Health Provisions
- OSHA 1926 Subpart D – Occupational Health and Environmental Controls
- OSHA 1926 Subpart E – Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment
- OSHA 1926 Subpart F – Fire Protection and Prevention
- OSHA 1926 Subpart G – Signs, Signal and Barricades
- OSHA 1926 Subpart H – Materials Handling, Storage, Use, and Disposal
- OSHA 1926 Subpart I – Tools—Hand and Power
- OSHA 1926 Subpart J – Welding and Cutting
- OSHA 1926 Subpart K – Electrical
- OSHA 1926 Subpart L – Scaffolds
- OSHA 1926 Subpart M – Fall Protection
- OSHA 1926 Subpart N – Helicopters, Hoists, Elevators, and Conveyors
- OSHA 1926 Subpart O – Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, and Marine Operations
- OSHA 1926 Subpart P – Excavations
- OSHA 1926 Subpart Q – Concrete and Masonry Construction
- OSHA 1926 Subpart R – Steel Erection
- OSHA 1926 Subpart S – Underground Construction, Caissons, Cofferdams, and Compressed Air
- OSHA 1926 Subpart T – Demolition
- OSHA 1926 Subpart U – Blasting and the Use of Explosives
- OSHA 1926 Subpart V – Power Transmission and Distribution
- OSHA 1926 Subpart W – Rollover Protective Structures; Overhead Protection
- OSHA 1926 Subpart X – Ladders
- OSHA 1926 Subpart Y – Commercial Diving Operations
- OSHA 1926 Subpart Z – Toxic and Hazardous Substances
- OSHA 1926 Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction
I’ll be providing a look at the first three of these subparts.
OSHA 1926 Subpart A - General
The scope and applicability of the safety and health standards of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act is found in this general section. Subpart A discusses variances, inspections, and rules or guidelines from the construction industry. Exploration of Right of Entry, by the Secretary of Labor—or their representative is included and other administrative adjudications for the enforcement of safety and health. The OSHA 1926 construction regulations and standards are published starting in Subpart C.
OSHA 1926 Subpart B
Subpart B of OSHA 1926 provides the general policy and interpretations of section 107 of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. It also defines some of the key terms and responsibilities.
This section summarizes general safety requirements. These requirements include:
- “Laborers and mechanics” must be provided with working conditions and surroundings that are sanitary, not hazardous, and not dangerous.
- Federal contracts over $10,000 that involve furnishing materials, supplies, articles or equipment, must include a statement that states: “no part of such contract will be performed nor will any of the materials, supplies, articles or equipment to be manufactured or furnished under said contract be manufactured or fabricated in any plants, factories, buildings, or surroundings or under working conditions which are unsanitary or hazardous or dangerous to the health and safety of employees engaged in the performance of said contract.”
- Establishing that there are no gaps in the requirements for providing a sanitary and safe workplace. All construction employers must provide their employees with a sanitary and safe workplace.
This subpart also includes a minimum wage provision that requires those engaged in federal, or federally funded construction projects, be paid a minimum wage that is in accordance with the prevailing wages as determined by the Department of Labor.
OSHA 1926 Subpart C
OSHA 1926 Subpart C provides the basic requirements for a construction industry safety and health program. It can be read as an overview of general requirements surrounding several subparts to be discussed later. For instance, a review of excavations, stairways and ladders, discussed in detail in Subparts P and X would be part of Subpart C
OSHA 1926 Subpart C also contains the definitions of key terms used throughout the 1926 construction standard. For example, the definitions for terms such as competent person, qualified, approved, and suitable can be found section 32.
General health and safety requirements such as: first aid, fire protection, housekeeping, illumination, sanitation, and personal protective equipment are covered in sections 22 through 28.
The following is a list of all of the sections of Subpart C:
1926 Subpart C - General Safety and Health Provisions
- 1926.20 - General safety and health provisions.
- 1926.21 - Safety training and education.
- 1926.22 - Recording and reporting of injuries.
- 1926.23 - First aid and medical attention.
- 1926.24 - Fire protection and prevention.
- 1926.25 - Housekeeping.
- 1926.26 - Illumination.
- 1926.27 - Sanitation.
- 1926.28 - Personal protective equipment.
- 1926.29 - Acceptable certifications.
- 1926.30 - Shipbuilding and ship repairing.
- 1926.32 - Definitions.
- 1926.33 - Access to employee exposure and medical records.
- 1926.34 - Means of egress.
- 1926.35 - Employee emergency action plans.
Let's take a look at the general safety and health requirements in 1926.20
OSHA 1926 Subpart C, Section 20
- Accident prevention responsibilities:
- It is the employer's responsibility to initiate, and to maintain, whatever programs and actions that are necessary such that the work site is in compliance with all safety and health requirements.
- The employer's actions must include providing for frequent and regular inspections of the job sites, materials, and equipment. The inspections must be done by competent persons designated by the employers.
- All machinery, tools, materials, and equipment must be in compliance with the applicable requirements of OSHA 1926. If it is not in compliance, it must be rendered inoperable (for example, by locking the controls), or identified as unsafe by tagging. Or it must be physically removed from its place of operation.
- Only employees who are qualified, by training or experience, may operate equipment and machinery.
- Defines the geographic locations covered by this law. These include all of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Wake Island, Guam, Johnston Island, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Outer Continental Shelf lands defined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act,, and the Canal Zone.
- Applicability of Standards:
- If a standard applies to a specific condition, practice, means, method, operation, or process, that standard overrules any general standard that might otherwise be applicable to the same condition, practice, means, method, operation, or process.
- The OSHA 1926 standards apply, even though other specific standards are prescribed for an industry, if those industry standards do not cover the areas or situations covered by OSHA 1926. In other words, if another standard or law is silent on a health or safety issue, but OSHA 1926 addresses that health or safety issue, then OSHA 1926 applies.
- The requirements of OSHA 1926 only apply to employees and their place of employment, even if the text of a standard is written such that it appears to cover a larger group of people, or areas outside the place of employment.
- Compliance duties owed to each employee:
- Employers are required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to each employee required to use PPE. This includes respirators, gloves, goggles, and other types of PPE. There is a separate PPE compliance duty with respect to each employee. Failure to provide PPE will be considered a separate violation for each employee who was not provide with, or who is not using required PPE.
- Training requirements:
- Initial training and maintenance of ongoing training programs are considered as separate compliance duties with respect to each employee. Failure to provide required training will be considered a separate violation for each employee who was required to be trained.