It should come as no surprise that construction is one of the most dangerous industries. It is for this reason that the construction industry is burdened with voluminous regulations and standards pertaining to safety. Most states adhere to the federal Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA). Violations of OSHA regulations can trigger various civil and criminal penalties. Accordingly, it is important to be proactive in developing programs and practices aimed at meeting or exceeding OSHA requirements. Safety, just like contracts and risk management, requires proper front-end planning, and, if properly done, it may limit the potential for costly penalties that may later be used against you in a civil suit by a third party. And with proper planning and training, and records thereof, if your company is cited, your company may be in a better posture to defend the citation assuming, of course, that you act within the prescribed time.
Although OSHA standards and regulations appear to be an independent regulatory regime, don't forget how OSHA regulations are intertwined into the project as a whole. In fact, contracts and risk management go hand-in-hand with OSHA. For instance, contracts should often allocate, to the extent not otherwise precluded, certain safety responsibilities among the project participants. Likewise, contracts may be drafted such that one party is obligated to indemnify another party that is cited due to the indemnitor's failure to fulfill its workplace safety and health duties.
And if you are cited, don't ignore that non-serious violation and simply pay the penalty. Doing so may be just the beginning because the implications of an OSHA citation do not end when your check clears the bank. For example, that otherwise innocuous, minor citation may be used as a stepping stone to cite your company for a repeat violation, not to mention its possible relevance in a subsequent action. Repeat citations may carry drastically higher penalties. Accordingly, it is critical that you zealously contest any citation whatsoever, even if it’s a non-serious violation.
For more information, visit our OSHA page.
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