Construction leadership and contractors are experiencing OSHA investigations as they continue to crack down on new COVID-19 jobsite violations. Employers that fail to comply with coronavirus-related precautions, like ensuring employees are social distancing, handwashing on a regular basis, and wearing masks are facing fines of up to $2000 and jobsite closures if several violations are reported. Firms are also facing additional scrutiny from members of the public who are taking photos of violations and filing complaints against contractors. Below are more details about OSHA citing construction firms for COVID-19 violations and what you can do to prevent it.

OSHA Violations

A serious violation recently occurred in Nevada resulting in a $13,494 fine for lack of social distancing. Here are some key takeaways from the incident that firms should review as soon as possible to avoid being fined in the future:

  • OSHA received photos of employees that were standing in line too close to each other during new COVID-19 screening procedures. Since CDC guidelines recommend temperature checks before allowing employees to enter job sites, it’s important to promote social distancing by staggering shift start times and breaks, marking six-foot distances with floor tape, arrows, etc., or enabling remote work opportunities for office staff.
  • Photos indicated that contractors were violating boom lift regulations. Construction leadership needs to confirm that boom lift baskets only have one or two people in them at a time through more training, warning signs, increased patrols, etc.
  • Employers need to focus more on protection against General Duty Clause violations. This starts with creating a COVID-19 specific safety plan outlining jobsite protective measures. The CDC provides further guidance and resources to businesses seeking to resume normal operations during the pandemic regarding daily health checks, conducting hazard assessments, and encouraging cloth face coverings.

Employer Obligations

Employers were already legally obligated to protect workers from recognized hazards, and accomplishing it becomes more challenging during a pandemic. If OSHA receives a complaint against a business, then said firm has five days to prepare a sufficient written response outlining the issues along with corrective actions being planned to avoid potential on-site inspections. Otherwise, repeat offenders can face a fine of $134,937 for each violation.

OSHA’s normal inspection routine is expected to resume in those regions with low-community spread. In addition to evolving federal regulations, contractors should also be prepared for updated safety standards being issued at their state and local levels. Some other rule changes expected on the horizon include standards related to industrial trucks along with a new compliance directive regarding crystalline respirable silica.

 

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