Construction law, defined as the field of law related to construction activity, has many areas. One of the most critical is the law as it applies to the safety on the jobsite. Following the proper guidelines and meeting the requirements of all laws relating to safety not only reduces the number of construction accidents, but can present a legal defense if an accident occurs despite the best efforts of the construction company and its managers.
Know the Law
Knowing the law is the first step to meeting its requirements. Construction law can vary between states especially when it comes to requirements for carrying worker’s compensation or some other form of state mandated coverage. These types of insurance pay the worker’s medical expenses and disability benefits if he is injured on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, is a federal agency regulating worker safety issues. Keeping up to date on these regulations also is critical to having a working knowledge of construction law as it applies to worker safety. Memberships in construction trade groups often include update services for changing laws.
Apply the Knowledge
Knowing the law does no good if the principles of those laws are not followed. In many situations, this requires training seminars with construction workers and particularly with foremen or crew leaders. Hold training session whenever new supervisors are added and document who has attended each training session. Have any critical construction equipment such as scaffolding or power tools inspected to insure they meet requirements. Document this inspection and label each tool with the date of inspection. Follow up with repairs to any item that does not meet standards or remove it from the workplace.
Make Safety a Priority
Include admonishes about safety in any presentations with construction crews or supervisors. A sign noting the number of days since the last accident helps remind people that accidents can happen and to be as careful as possible. Inspect the construction site from time to time and do not allow any construction practices or equipment that do not meet codes and law.
Follow Up on Incidents
Document everything associated with any construction site related incidents. This applies to close calls, property damaging accidents and injury accidents. Document what happened to cause the incident and the steps taken to eliminate the possibility of future occurrences. In the event of an injury accident, the information can be crucial to any governmental investigation. It is always better to present documentation and cooperate with the investigative process.
Jason Kane is former construction manager and avid blogger. Jason writes for Fall Protection USA, a provider of ladder safety systems, single leg lanyards and other construction safety equipment.