This past fall, OSHA updated its recommendations for safety and health programs for general industries, for the first time in 30 years. The agency has now followed this with updated recommendations for the construction industry. This emphasis upon the construction industry addresses new demographics working in building trades, including a more diverse workforce and new construction techniques and materials.
OSHA’s new recommended practices for a construction safety and health program were highly anticipated by contractors and industry professionals, and encourage greater communication between management and construction workers. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, writes in the program’s Foreword:
“Safety and health programs foster a proactive approach to ‘finding and fixing’ job site hazards before they can cause injury or illness. Rather than reacting to an incident, management and workers collaborate to identify and solve issues before they occur. This collaboration builds trust, enhances communication, and often leads to other business improvements.”
Changes in the Construction Industry
The updated recommendations were designed to reflect current conditions in the construction industry, which include:
New construction practices, materials, and equipment that contractors and work crews use daily
Greater diversity in the construction workforce, bringing people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures together to collaborate on work projects
People working later in life, and the aging workforce requiring different safety considerations. Signs and visual communications may need to be larger to ensure they’re seen by everyone
More temporary and contract employment means safety and health policies need to be communicated clearly to everyone on the jobsite
The new program recommendations address both small and large construction companies, and everyone in between, whether the contractor handles short-term or multi-year projects.
Dr. Michaels summed up his hopes for the new program updates; "The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable."
Graphic Products has a deep well of OSHA compliance resources, including a guide on safety signage detailing best practices for labeling in accordance with OSHA and ANSI requirements and standards, OSHA related articles and timely OSHA news updates in the company newsroom.