Because construction is on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) list of the most hazardous industries, construction companies must be extra-vigilant to ensure the safety of employees and jobsites. Being on OSHA’s list also means these companies must be extra-vigilant with incident recordkeeping and reporting to stay in compliance. Accordingly, tracking, recording and reporting workplace safety incidents is part of the daily operations at construction companies.
This summer, OSHA is expected to publish its final rule updating recordkeeping and reporting requirements. While we won’t know what the final rule looks like until it’s published, we can confidently guess that it won’t stray too far from the proposed rule issued in 2022, which would require companies with 100 or more employees in certain designated industries — construction included — to electronically submit their OSHA Forms 300, 301 and 300A once a year. For construction companies with 20 to 99 employees, the proposed rule maintains the existing requirement of electronically submitting just their OSHA Form 300A annual summary once a year.
In short, more construction companies will be submitting more reporting with more information provided to OSHA. Because of the proposed requirement of submitting 301A logs, the regulator will have recordkeeping data showing what workplace injuries and illnesses are occurring and how they are happening. Anytime there is a regulatory change, it takes extra diligence to make sure your company stays in compliance with the new rules. Fortunately, technology can help with much of the burden. In fact, technology can help with many aspects of workplace safety — not just compliance.
Efficient Recordkeeping & Reporting
The old adage “the only constant is change” applies to ever-evolving workplace regulations and standards, too. The new OSHA recordkeeping rules will surely not be the last changes the regulator makes, meaning that keeping up with OSHA compliance could be a full-time job within your organization. For most companies, the responsibility of filing reports often lies with safety managers and/or human resources (HR) and can take valuable time out of those employees’ days.
Thankfully, OSHA recordkeeping can be relatively painless with a web-based application that autopopulates data across all required forms, saving time and virtually eliminating filing mistakes. Some technologies also provide real-time metrics for your organization’s days away, restricted or transferred (DART) rate, OSHA incident rate and lost-time reports. Plus, implementing a web-based program allows all stakeholders access to the same shared information for tracking purposes.
The data and access are important for internal purposes to help prevent future injuries and incidents, but they will also help you in the event of an OSHA inspection. A company with recordkeeping that is thorough, organized and easily accessible may signal to an OSHA inspector that it takes safety seriously and likely has other aspects of its operation buttoned up as well.
Digital Safety Training
Safety training is another key component of a company’s safety program and is another area where technology can help. It’s critical that employees are able to recognize safety hazards on jobsites and know how to safely use certain machinery and tools. Regular safety training helps prevent workplace safety incidents and keeps you in compliance with OSHA regulations. However, traditional training methods can be inefficient and expensive.
Automated training platforms can take the place of live, on-site training classes or one-on-one instruction for new hires. These digital platforms can help track employee training requirements and ensure that safety messaging is delivered consistently to all team members. Managers can also include automated testing to verify that employees understand the training and are meeting the required standards.
A digital platform allows safety and HR managers to tailor training by job function or department. This ensures that workers are trained on skills that are relevant to their specific role. And finally, an automated system means no more paper records that are often difficult to keep track of and find when necessary. All the data on worker training can be housed in one convenient system to which key staff have access.
Job Analysis & Ergonomics
Having a physical job analysis for every position that exists in your organization is helpful for creating job descriptions, but it also helps when determining the work-relatedness of a reportable injury or planning a return-to-work schedule following injury. A job analysis should address the purpose and essential functions of the job; the physical, sensory and cognitive demands; and environmental exposures and common tools and materials the worker will use.
A web-based job analysis program will help companies by providing shared information access to key stakeholders within the organization who can use the information in a variety of helpful ways, including:
- Determining whether a person can perform the job with reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Training employees to work safely and avoid injury
- Assessing whether an injury is work-related or unlikely to have happened within the work environment
- Examining injured employees for fitness of duty (i.e., ability to resume normal or light duties after an injury)
Which Software & Applications Are Best?
As with any tool or program, safety applications and software aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all, and many platforms cater to specific business needs. To ensure the best fit for your organization, it’s important to understand your unique business risks and safety goals when choosing specific products.
In an industry such as construction, where the safety requirements and regulations are complex and extensive, company leaders should seek expert help when evaluating software platforms. The wrong software won’t achieve what you need it to and may end up being more of a burden than a help, so you want to be sure to get it right.
On the other hand, an investment in the right digital solutions for your organization can pay dividends in everything from better safety data to inform new and safer practices to time saved on the administrative aspects of safety reporting and training to better compliance with regulatory requirements.