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Health & Safety

Construction Safety Audits

by Ron Pettit, MS, Loss Control Specialist, The Harry A. Koch Co.

Construction sites require constant monitoring and observations to keep ahead of safety issues. The best defense against injury and loss is a comprehensive understanding of risks and deficiencies within your construction company and projects.

There are many tools that safety professionals use such as written safety programs, safety training, job hazard analysis, and others that are part of a successful safety program. Construction safety inspections ensure the safety planning and tools used have the desired effect to identify hazards and fix problems before injuries and accidents can occur.

Site safety audits are a systematic review of the tools, equipment and procedures that personnel use to perform tasks in construction projects. If your inspection is only on OSHA you’re on the wrong page. A site safety audit should include liability exposures, security, environmental issues, contracted workers’, equipment and its use, along with parking and delivery areas, etc.

Safety and health compliance audits and inspections are a cost-effective management tool. Varying by your needs and the size of the job, the typical safety audit includes a site inspection followed by a written report. The audit report may include digital photographs itemizing the would-be citations and their respective safety code references to state and federal regulations. A Corrective Action Plan (CAP) is required and audit findings are shared with the site management and all CAPs must be agreed upon during the exit interview. A follow-up written CAP should be attached to the audit report and completion dates must be verified and signed off as completed.

Contractors cannot maintain a hands-off policy towards construction activity as they are charged with the legal duty to use reasonable care to correct or warn against non-apparent site hazards which may be presented by the construction project. Contractors could face third-party lawsuits brought by a contractor's employees, the public or others for incidents and/or injuries caused by the contractor’s breach of this duty. Safety audits leave a nice paper trail for site safety and your defense.

Contractors should realize that merely adopting a safety program will not yield the desired results without a serious and persistent management commitment to make the program work.