No matter what the century, safety on the job should come first. At every one of your work sites you want to protect your employees as best you can, limiting your liability and keeping the possibility of accidents and injuries to a minimum. Complying with OSHA regulations is a good reason to start, not least because it is the law.
If you don’t have a companywide policy in place, you can use your pc to help formulate and distribute one. Many valuable Web sites (including OSHA’s own) post regulations and supportive pertinent data (including downloadable software) that you can use to put together a policy.
Some nifty software programs on the market also can help you develop both a written safety program and hard copy signage for posting at your jobsites.
Guidelines on company policy should take into consideration general, specific and potential hazards that could arise on a worksite and should address ways to prevent or control those hazards. Let your workers know that management really does want to hear about unsafe or potentially unsafe work-site situations so they can be corrected as soon as possible.
OSHA regulations are available free in hard copy and from OSHA’s Web site.
If you are serious about creating a safety program for your company and don’t have someone trained to do so on staff, BuildSafe ($495, Safety Management Corp., www.safetymgmt.com 800/639-1920), could speed you on your way.
The interactive program, which can be tailored to individual company needs, can help you formulate a custom safety and health management program specific to your construction site. It includes hard copies of all the written programs and copies of forms for creating and maintaining a consistent safety program that complies with OSHA (under CFR 1926), EPA and DOT.
If you think a picture is worth a thousand words or if you have non-English-speaking workers among your crew, you may want to consider MaxiSigns99 for Windows, ($399, MaxiSoft Software, www.maxisoft-software.com, 800/622-6312). The software creates OSHA-mandated, ansi-compliant safety and facility signs and tags in Spanish and/or in English that satisfy posting requirements.
Using pictographs as well as words, the package includes more than 2,000 predefined safety and general facility signs (in 45 categories) that can be made on inkjet or laser printers. Because the program comes with 330 pictographs and the ability to add your own symbols and graphics, you can pretty much create and save custom signs to fit just about any job-site circumstance. The program automatically sizes and formats the text to fit layout specifications.
Some OSHAa-sanctioned safety suggestions:
Supply each jobsite with a well-stocked, up-to-date first aid kit, the location of which is known to everyone in the crew.
If there are no existing phone lines on the job, supply each site with the means for emergency communication (cell phones or two-way radios) to call for aid in case of an accident. Keep the phone numbers of ambulances, hospitals and doctors prominently posted.
Mandate that crew members wear proper safety equipment for the work at hand, including safety glasses, hard hats, hard-soled construction shoes and dust masks, where appropriate.
Make sure each crew member understands proper use and maintenance of all tools and equipment (including ladders) that he will use.
Keep all debris in one location until it is removed, which should be often.
For more detailed information, check out any of the sites below:
www.osha.gov. OSHA’s primary site;
www.osha-slc.gov/dts/osta/oshasoft. At this address, you can find a number of OSHA Expert Advisors — free interactive software programs that offer specific advice on various safety considerations, based on your answers to questions;
www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Additional.html. OSHA publications available on the Web;
www.osha-slc.gov/sltc/Safety.html. OSHA programs and services for small business;
www.osha-slc.gov/html/construction.html. This address has a wealth of information, including industry-specific regulations and advisories;
www.nsc.org/mem/constr.htm. National Safety Council, Construction Division;
www.nahbrc.org. National Association of Home Builders Research Center, information on free construction safety seminars.
The Feldmans write about computer use for the construction industry and produce customized newsletters for various businesses. They can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or tel. 914/238-6272.