L&I released its list of the Top 10 Violations in 2018 for construction jobsites. With inspectors visiting construction jobsites more than 13,000 times last year alone, it pays to take a few minutes and think about how your company measures up in the following areas:
- Accident prevention program (safety plan)
- Fall protection
- Ladder Use
- Asbestos, Tremolite, Anthophyllite, and Actinolite
- Tools – Hand and Power
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Head Protection
- Management’s Responsibility
- General Protection Requirements
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Construction
Violations for any of these areas generally result in mandatory, minimum fines of $1,000 to $7,000 each. (First aid training and certification is also frequently cited, but does not come with financial penalties.) The fines quickly multiply based on the severity of the violation — the likelihood that a worker would be injured — or in cases of a willful or repeat violation.
For example, let’s say you have an employee working 30 feet in the air, with little documented training, and using improper fall protection. That fine would be $7,000. If your company gets cited five more times within three years, your next fine will be $105,000 for that occurrence.
The bottom line is that it’s not unusual to see fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, with several each year costing $100,000 or more. An ineffective safety program can put your company our of business.
While there are ten frequently cited violations, Approach safety manager Holly Markee says three focal points can help your company to protect itself and its employees from safety violations and potential accidents:
- Employers – Safety needs to run through the company, from the top down and from the bottom up. Know what safety rules pertain to your business and how to comply with them. Train employees about the importance of safety and why the rules are in place.
- Employees – Each member of the team must be accountable and must follow company safety rules. Consider selecting a different employee each week on a crew to make sure everyone is following safety rules.
- Supervisors – Leaders need to hold workers accountable but should not be babysitters for crews. Safety needs to be everybody’s responsibility.
With this mindset in place, says Holly, “Your company is going beyond just reading the manual for ten minutes and signing a form. You’re building a safety culture with clear expectations because, at the end of the day, all citations are preventable and it all starts with training and accountability.”
When it comes to getting a safety program up and running, start with the basics:
- Accident Prevention Program (APP) – this bit of documentation is required by law for every employer. Having it written, implemented with training, and enforced is the first step for any company and will keep your company from being cited for #1 violation in the state – lack of an APP – a $2,000 to $3,000 fine.
- Safety Meetings – these are required each time you open a new jobsite and weekly thereafter.
- Safety Training – provide training programs for the hazards your employees are exposed to.
- Example 1 – fall protection how to wear it, take care of it, and inspect it.
- Example 2 – training a new tool, which is required whenever a new tool is introduced.
- Enforcement – disobeying a safety rule must result in immediate discipline and documentation. But, also take time to talk with employees about why rules are in place and to thank employees doing the right thing.
Let Approach help get your safety program up and running:
Participants of an Approach managed retro program have access to free Accident Prevention Plan templates and weekly safety meeting topics as part of their membership. In addition, Approach clients receive an annual complementary safety site visit. Utilize this time to provide training to your employees, review your APP, or review your facility for potential fines/hazards.
Markee says, “It’s confusing to start a safety program and many employers wonder how to do it. That’s why we provide consultations and templates for our clients, to help them get started. Safety takes time and effort, but once you have a strong safety culture in place statistics show improved retention, production, morale, and a prosperous company.”