Construction OSHA Compliance Case Studies

Construction OSHA Compliance Case Studies 2018-12-10T10:24:33+00:00

Construction Health & Safety Compliance Success Stories

Our construction clients are made up of general contractors and specialty trade contractors working in both residential and commercial construction, and the vast majority of them have less than 100 employees.

Some sought help after realizing that they would never achieve their safety compliance goals without seeking outside help, others contacted us after failing an OSHA inspection, while others came to us trying to meet their customer’s safety compliance requirements.

Regardless of their situation, they all really struggled to manage their OSHA compliance program requirements prior to hiring us.

For our general contractor clients, we focus on helping them manage OSHA’s “controlling employer” requirements, while we help our specialty trade contractors tackle the specific health and safety regulations that apply to their activities.

Checkout some of our construction safety compliance success stories below.

Construction General Contractor Located in Austin, TX

Berg helps general contractor manage OSHA’s “controlling employer” obligations.  Our turn-key safety services helped the company navigate serious OSHA enforcement actions after job-site fatality.  Successes included getting fines reduced and citations removed, as well as providing basis for defense against civil lawsuit.

Situation:

The client was a small general contractor located in the Austin, TX area.  They managed construction of small to medium sized single and multi story residential wood frame projects throughout Texas.  Multi story wood frame construction creates very serious health and safety hazards and OSHA compliance requirements including fall protection, scaffolding, PPE, ladders and silica exposures.

The company relied on a wide range of small specialty trade subcontractors to complete their projects.

Challenge:

The company was relatively new at the time, was a small business and couldn’t afford a full time safety manager. They attempted to compensate by tasking staff Project Managers and Superintendents with safety compliance, but realized that this structure was not sustainable because their staff lacked the time and expertise needed to manage their extensive OSHA compliance requirements.

To make matters worse, the owner understood the difficulties and risks associated with trying to manage OSHA’s “Controlling Employer Mandate” which requires general contractors to manage all project health and safety hazards, including subcontractor safety.  He also understood that all of their subcontractors were small and struggled to manage their own OSHA compliance requirements, which only magnified the problem and increased the risks.

Solution:

The company signed up for our Assured Compliance service to task Berg Compliance Solutions with becoming their outsourced safety compliance department, and help manage all of these challenges.  The service began with a comprehensive mock OSHA inspection where Berg consultants inspected their current projects and reviewed their safety documentation and records.  The assessment identified all OSHA compliance violations and made recommended corrective actions for each.  Berg Compliance Solutions presented the final audit report to the company’s entire management team so that everyone understood the scope and gained a better understanding of how to manage their new safety program moving forward.

Over the next several months, with help from the company, Berg staff implemented all required corrections and helped the company achieve baseline OSHA compliance.  This work included drafting their safety manual, developing and delivering customized safety training for their employees, helping manage their safety record keeping requirements, and conducting routine safety inspections at their projects throughout Texas.  This included conducting monthly webinar meetings with their staff to review inspection reports and address questions, concerns and corrective actions.

Results:

After hiring Berg Compliance Solutions, the company was finally able to create their own health and safety compliance program, which included means and methods for managing OSHA’s “Controlling Employer” mandate which is was very critical for the company and its owner, as we soon found out….

Despite these successes, the company experienced two very serious safety compliance problems.

The first occurred when an anonymous party filed a complaint to OSHA for fall protection violations at one of the company’s Texas projects. According to the complaint, one of the roofing subcontractors was working without fall protection PPE.

Berg Compliance Solutions responded by immediately dispatching a consultant to investigate the complaint, and then as part of a corrective action plan, delivered fall protection training to all of the company’s framing and roofing subcontractors the same week.

Within a month of the fall protection complaint, another roofing subcontractor who was working on a holiday at the same project, unfortunately fell to his death as a result of failing to wear fall protection PPE.

The company reported the fatality to OSHA, who initiated a follow up investigation the following day.  Again, Berg Compliance Solutions responded by dispatching a consultant to the project to assist with the OSHA investigation and help the company through the process.

The 2 related events resulted in the company scheduling an informal conference meeting with the local OSHA office to address the alleged fall protection violations and related fatality.  Berg Compliance Solutions spent many hours working with the company to prepare a defense presentation.  The defense argued that despite the company’s best efforts to manage their Controlling Employer safety requirements, these 2 unfortunate events still occurred due to the subcontractors negligence, not the company’s (our client) negligence. 

Our efforts were very successful and resulted in the fall protection citations being dismissed entirely, and released the company, and the owner, from responsibility and liability for the fatality.  Had we not succeeded, the owner could have faced potential criminal liability for the accident.

The company’s owner later used our defense arguments and OSHA findings to defend against a separate civil lawsuit which was filed by the family of the deceased worker.

It’s important to note that had the company failed to hire Berg Compliance Solutions to help manage their OSHA compliance requirements, the liabilities associated with these two events could have been catastrophic not only for the business, but for the owner (personally) as well.

It’s also important to understand that all of the additional support provided for addressing these two issues were provided at no additional cost to the company, because our Assured Compliance service is a fixed monthly fee cost structure which includes OSHA enforcement assistance.

In summary, the OSHA compliance program that we created for the company provided the basis for a defense against these risks and liabilities.  In other words, without their OSHA compliance program, the company and owner would have been in serious peril.

It’s rare that one of our clients faces such potentially devastating liabilities, but very satisfying when we’re able to step-in to help them manage the process to a positive outcome.

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Construction General Contractor Located in Texas

Texas General Contractor Relies on Berg’s Assured Compliance To Manage Their Construction Project Safety Needs Throughout The Country.

Situation:

The company is a Texas based general contractor who specializes in building large wood and steel frame assisted living and nursing home facilities throughout the country.

The company employs a group of Project Managers and Superintendents who are focused on building quality, on-time projects utilizing a wide range of small specialty trade subcontractors.

As a General Contractor, the company must manage OSHA’s “Controlling Employer” mandate which states that GCs are fully responsible for the health safety of their projects, which includes managing subcontractor safety issues.  This mandate means that the General Contractor can get fined and penalized for subcontractor safety violations.

The majority of small trade subcontractors in Texas and throughout the country lack OSHA compliant safety programs, and unfortunately often prioritize production ahead of safety.

The company’s project staff have a good understanding of safety requirements, but aren’t necessarily experts and the company didn’t have a full time safety manager.

Challenge:

When we first began working with the company several years ago, they were rapidly growing and had several projects in-progress throughout Texas and several other states, with others scheduled to break ground soon.

Being a small business, the company’s staff and resources were stretched trying to manage the extensive workload, deadlines, etc., which limited their capacity for managing their OSHA compliance obligations.

OSHA’s “Controlling Employer” mandate has significant requirements including having written safety related policies and procedures, training staff to understand and manage those policies, conducting routine inspections to identify hazards, and then coordinating with subcontractors to correct those hazards.  According to OSHA, managing these requirements constitutes “reasonable efforts” (for managing project health and safety) and general contractors are required to meet this standard.

The company’s leadership understood that failing to manage these requirements could result in significant fines and penalties, and even potential civil or criminal liabilities if anyone got seriously injured or worse at one of their projects.

To complicate matters, several of the states where the company operates have their own unique state-run health and safety programs which often differ from OSHA Federal standards.

Solution:

Given these wide ranging challenges and risks, the company contacted us requesting assistance in 2013 and soon after signed an Assured Compliance contract to build their safety program and provide ongoing assistance managing OSHA compliance at their many projects throughout Texas and the country.

The service includes providing routine inspections of all projects to identify and correct subcontractor safety violations, conduct safety training, open-ended consultation time, and immediate assistance with OSHA enforcement interactions.  We also provide consulting assistance and training, as needed, to their subcontractors to correct health and safety issues.

In summary, our Assured Compliance service helps the company manage their “controlling employer” responsibilities.

Results:

Since hiring Berg in 2013, the company has not been issued any OSHA citations or fines for any projects that we have monitored from start to finish.  We are proud of this record given that to-date, we have assisted with approximately 33 different projects.

Several projects have been inspected by OSHA over the years, but in each case Berg and the company were able to demonstrate that we collaborated to manage the “controlling employer” requirements at each project, which prevented citations and fines from being issued.

Below is a brief summary of some of those interactions.

South TX Project Inspected by OSHA in March 2016:

  • The inspection was triggered when an inspector observed a subcontractor worker briefly standing on a roof without Fall Protection in place.
  • The inspection yielded no additional violations.
  • Rather than issuing a citation or fine, OSHA issued a warning which stated that if follow-up Fall Protection training was immediately delivered at the site, and no other safety violations were observed throughout the end of project, then no citations or fines would be issued.
  • Berg immediately responded by conducting a follow-up safety inspection & delivered Fall Protection training for roofing subcontractors.
  • Additional follow-up inspections occurred on a monthly basis between April and August as a means of preventing recurrence.
  • These corrective actions resulted in no citations or fines being issued to the company from OSHA.

Two Houston TX Area Projects Inspected by OSHA in October 2016 & October 2017:

  • In each case, an OSHA inspector passed by the project and observed one or more workers on roofs without any form of Fall Protection in place.
  • No citations were issued to the company in either inspection because we were able to demonstrate that the company was managing their “controlling employer” requirements by making reasonable efforts to manage health and safety issues at the projects.
  • These reasonable efforts included the following:
    • The company had hired Berg as a 3rd party safety consultant.
    • The Company’s Superintendent held weekly, project-wide safety meetings with their subcontractors that included “toolbox safety talks” provided to the company by Berg, and discussions of finding noted in Berg site inspection reports.
    • Superintendents also conducted periodic site safety walks and provided evidence of safety violation enforcement with subcontractors (photos, emails, write-ups, etc.)

Dallas Are Project Issued OSHA Complaint Letter In 2018:

  • The complaint letter focused on Fall Protection violations at the project.
  • Berg immediately responded by visiting the site the next day to investigate and begin corrective actions.
  • Corrective actions included conducting a follow-up inspection and a Fall Protection project “Stand-Down” which included conducting a Fall Protection training session to affected subcontractors.
  • All corrective actions were completed and submitted to OSHA within the deadline stated in the letter.
  • As a result, no fines or citations were issued to the company.

Denver, CO Area Project Inspected by OSHA in 2017:

  • The inspection triggered when an inspector observed non-compliant scaffolding being used by a subcontractor.
  • The inspection yielded no additional violations.
  • Berg immediately responded by conducting a follow-up inspection, noted scaffolding deficiencies and discussed corrective actions with the sub-contractor. This included researching and emailing the subcontractor photos and guidance advice and documentation on how to correct the issues.
  • Additional follow-up inspections occurred on a monthly basis until the end of the project as a means of preventing recurrence.
  • These corrective actions resulted in no citations or fines being issued to the company from OSHA.

Concrete Contractor in Central Texas

Berg helps company build their safety program, achieve OSHA compliance, avoid OSHA fines and penalties and investigate accidents to prevent costly workers compensation claims.

Situation:

Our client is a commercial concrete specialty trade contractor.  The company performs concrete project work for small and large construction projects in the Central Texas area.  Concrete work creates significant health and safety hazards and requirements including fall protection, PPE and silica exposure.

Challenge:

The company is a small family owned business with limited time, resources and internal expertise to deal with EHS compliance issues.  As a result, the company not only struggled to keep up with their OSHA compliance requirements, but also struggled to deal with recurring workplace injuries and Workers Compensation claim issues. In addition, the client was having problems bidding on larger projects due to their lack of a health and safety compliance program.  Nobody on staff was able to deal with these issues.

Solution:

Several years ago the company signed up for our Assured Compliance service so BCS could become their outsourced health and safety department.  The service started with a comprehensive mock OSHA audit where BCS inspected several projects and reviewed all of the company’s safety documents and records, as well as injury and illness records.  The assessment identified all of the OSHA violation in these areas, made recommendations for corrective action, and over the next year corrected all deficiencies.  This work included creating their health and safety manual, developing a customized training plan for their staff, conducting routine project inspections and everything else that OSHA requires.

Result:

Since hiring Berg Compliance Solutions, not only has the company finally been able to address their OSHA compliance requirements, but has also utilized our services to manage several employee injury and Workers Compensation claims, as well as avoiding major OSHA fines and penalties.

Examples:

In Q3 of 2017, the company was working on behalf of a general contractor on a large construction project in north Austin.  During the project OSHA arrived unexpectedly to conduct an enforcement inspection due to the activities of another subcontractor.  During the inspection the company was also inspected and their Superintendent later reported that “They looked at our tools, extension cords, the fire extinguishers, the water coolers….pretty much everything BCS looks for when you inspect one of our projects.”  The OSHA inspector found zero violations and then moved onto the next project subcontractor.  Had BCS not been hired to conduct routine project inspections to identify and correct safety hazards, it’s very likely that the company would have received multiple citations and significant fines.

On at least 2 occasions since hiring Berg Compliance Solutions, the company has experienced workplace injuries which required Berg to immediately dispatch a consultant to conduct same day accident investigations.  These investigations have allowed the company to understand accident root cause (in order to prevent future occurrences) as well as manage WC claims and costs.

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Berg helps Austin area home builder build OSHA compliance program from scratch and manage job-site safety throughout Central Texas.

Coming Soon….

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