The rules and regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and visits from an OSHA inspector, are part of the everyday working environment for commercial and general contractors. Most employers in the industry have a fundamental commitment to maintaining a safe workplace, and most know by now the actions to avoid that otherwise will cause safety problems or raise an OSHA red flag. It’s good business and common sense to have a systematic safety approach that documents all safety efforts—efforts that should include establishing and enforcing safety and health requirements, new hire and periodic safety training, full documentation of safety efforts, attention to injury and illness record keeping requirements, and prompt response to all safety audit recommendations.
Contractors that have been aware of all of this and already have safety systems and plans in place to deal with OSHA inspections may think they are in good shape to avoid problems with OSHA. But it’s time to think again and to revisit existing systems and plans. There is a new OSHA with a new message: “There is a new Sheriff in town.” Sheriffs aggressively enforce the law. That is exactly what OSHA intends to do in the Obama Administration.