Just a quick glance at headlines across the construction industry reveals a clear picture of a troubling situation. Despite COVID-19 prompting the shutdown of many projects, dangerous accidents at construction sites continue.
The construction worker safety conversation has become all but lost amid discussion of the pandemic. But the continued existence and spread of COVID-19 is not an excuse for employers to ignore their worker safety responsibilities.
Trainings must continue if possible
Things are hectic right now. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has acknowledged that fact. Recent enforcement guidance from the agency, however, makes it clear that is not an excuse for employers to ignore safety requirements.
While OSHA recognizes local closures mean certain mandated training may not be possible, the agency says it expects employers to make “good faith compliance efforts” to meet OSHA standards. That includes both annual and recurring:
In addition, employers that cannot complete these requirements should take care to ensure workers are not exposed to hazards for which they were not properly trained to handle.
Businesses that use this pandemic as an opportunity to ignore safety mandates may end up with a citation.
Protecting construction workers
Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are operating in a safe environment. Part of that responsibility is making sure safety training thresholds are met.
Construction remains one of the most dangerous professions, with workers exposed to injury and fatality risks not seen in many other industries. Adequate training is one of the key pillars to addressing this longstanding issue, one advocacy group argues.
Employers that neglect this all-important aspect of running a safe business ultimately put all their workers at risk. And it is those workers who might pay the ultimate price.