If you are a construction worker in Massachusetts, you will likely rely on your employer to provide a safe work environment that is free of known safety hazards. Although this is what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration expects from employers, ensuring workplace safety is a massive task. Construction company owners handle large numbers of contractors, and hundreds of construction workers -- each with his or her own level of training and competency -- and each construction site poses unique hazards.
If you gain some knowledge of safety challenges, how to manage the risks and how to mitigate the hazards, you might have a better chance of staying safe. Knowing the requirements of site safety plans can provide additional protection.
What is the purpose of a site safety plan?
Each project needs a written plan that identifies site-specific safety hazards and the necessary measures to mitigate them. The plan must specify how each general contractor will manage the health and safety of his or her workers. Contractors and supervisors must work together to inform workers of potential hazards and how to avoid them and then enforce compliance with safety regulations. The following are requirements for a comprehensive site-specific safety plan:
- The plan must have the involvement of all contractors, subcontractors and supervisors.
- The plan must point out identified hazards and linked activities along with control measures to address them.
- The plan must include details for frequent safety meetings to learn about changes in conditions and additional hazards
- The plan must provide for the protection of all workers on the site, visitors and the general public from safety and health hazards.
- The plan needs to include policies for reporting previously unidentified hazards, near-misses and workplace accidents and injuries.
Along with all other measures, every individual on the construction site must know OSHA safety standards and comply with them.
Crucial elements of safety plans
On large construction projects, each contractor and subcontractor must establish a safety plan for his or her part of the job. Collaboration between all is essential, and the following crucial elements must feature:
- Safety training: Details of a schedule for safety training, who will conduct it and the location must be on the plan along with encouragement to report additional safety hazards and stating how employers will address them.
- Safety representatives: Although each construction project must have a safety representative, a competent supervisor who can identify dangerous conditions throughout the project and has the authority to take the necessary steps is required. The overall safety rep must coordinate safety training, and he or she must have safety and first-aid certification.
- Warning signs: The plan must list the warning and safety signs that will be throughout the work zone and provide detail about their meanings and purposes.
- Machine inspection: Detailed allocations of who will inspect which machines, the frequency of inspections and clear instructions of procedures to follow in compliance with state and federal safety regulations should be included.
- Accident reports: It is crucial to ensure that workers report each on-site incident, even those that seem minor. The safety plan must specify who will conduct investigations into incidents.
Although a strong, well-prepared safety plan aims to ensure the protection of you and your co-workers' safety and health, construction accidents could still happen. If you happen to be the victim of on-the-job injuries, you might need the financial support of the Massachusetts workers' compensation insurance program. You will likely be eligible for benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, and legal counsel is available to assist with the claims process. Such guidance and support might improve your chances of receiving all applicable benefits.