No remodeler welcomes a surprise visit from OSHA, any more than they want injuries on their jobsites. FBN Construction, Boston, manages to prepare for the first possibility and pre-empt the second by outsourcing its safety training.
“We all want to be safe,” says Bob Murray, FBN Construction's production manager. But with five to 10 major remodeling projects under way at any time, he says it's hard to patrol every jobsite for hazards, much less to create, implement, and document an ongoing safety program. For about $3,500 a year (rates vary, depending on the program), an OSHA compliance and safety training firm called Applegate Associates provides FBN with a customized safety program that includes on-the-job training and frequent “random” jobsite visits that produce the same types of citations that an OSHA inspector would write.
The visits are scheduled through Murray, but “I don't tell my crew,” he says. “I need to know if they're not wearing goggles” or using saw guards, for example. For residential construction nationally, most OSHA citations involve fall protection, ladders, and scaffolding, according to Catherine Applegate, vice president.
A safety program also provides several lines of defense against actual OSHA inspections. Contractors with documented safety plans tend to receive fewer citations and pay lower insurance premiums, Applegate says. Her staff is also on-call to meet with OSHA inspectors on jobsites.
Visit Applegate Associates' Web site at www.applegateassociates.com.