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Four of the Most Important Safety Regulations Every General Contractor Needs to Know:

Posted: May 17, 2016 | Project Management

Many general contractors view some of the rules and guidelines set forth by government agencies, like OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as overly constricting, if not downright ridiculous. However, knowing these four rules can help you stay out of trouble as well as develop a safer work environment.

1. Provide Personal Protective Equipment: The law requires general contractors to make sure workers are wearing whatever personal protective equipment that a particular job calls for. For instance, if working with an airless spray gun to paint, employees must wear the proper respiration masks. In many construction scenarios, eye protection should be mandatory. For instance, workers should wear safety glasses when using power saws.

2. Proper Training: OSHA requires workers to have the appropriate training for whatever task they are assigned to carry out. As an example, an employee working in an old house with asbestos must have received the education necessary to avoid any of its dangerous effects. Workers must be trained in the use of tools, as well. Forklift operators, for example, must receive training before being allowed to drive the machine. Depending on the circumstance, there are several different ways an employer can provide training to employees, from the institution of a formal training program, to the employer training the employee 1-on-1.

3. Keep an Eye on the Clock: A normal work period, as defined by OSHA, is eight hours a day with at least eight hours for rest. A normal workweek is considered five days. Anything more is termed extended or unusual. While there are no actual standards for such work hours, over extending your workforce can have many negative health and safety side effects for your employees and your company. Working longer hours without rest can take a toll on the physical, emotional, and mental well being of workers, which could in turn lead to a decrease in efficiency. Working longer than usual hours has been reported to lead to increases in worker irritability, sickness, headaches, and depression, and can also lead to decreases in worker focus, memory, and appetite. Of course, working longer hours is often a necessity, but making sure to provide enough rest to employees in between these periods, or allowing for short breaks during, can help to mitigate some of the negative consequences.

4. Be Aware of the Dangers of Heights: few things can be more dangerous on a construction site than the ever present gravity. Often, work has to be performed from perches high up, where an unprotected slip could lead to serious injury or death. You should always be sure to take precautions when working up high. When using an extension ladder, be sure it is set on level ground and tied down or with someone holding it firm at the base. When working from scaffolding, make sure such structures are correctly assembled and stable. Workers on a particularly high and/or steep roof should take precaution by tying themselves off in case of a fall.

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