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Staying Safe: Key Regulatory Developments You Need to Know Now

No matter what industry you’re in, safety is always a top concern at the workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3 million workers are injured or become ill on the job every year.

The construction industry is especially vulnerable to threats to worker safety. Here are key regulatory developments related to environment, health and safety (EHS) you need to know about in 2016:

New inspection system and tougher penalties

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a new system that requires inspectors to meet a certain number of units rather than a set number of inspections. This allows inspectors to spend more time on complicated inspections – especially those that involve dangerous conditions that may result in serious outcomes. 

Another new development concerns a recent court ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission confirming OSHA’s authority to require multi-site businesses to address hazard reduction in all locations. 

Earlier in 2016, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice agreed to prioritize pursuit of criminal charges against anyone who misleads inspectors when it comes to issues related to employee safety. In addition, OSHA’s allowable maximum limit for fines has been increased by 80 percent – the first fine limit increase in 25 years.

TIP: Utilize technology solutions to track, identify and improve potentially problematic safety and compliance issues before they escalate.

New Globally Harmonized System (GHS) provisions for chemical safety

OSHA's deadline for adoption of the GHS was June 1, 2016. Now all employers covered by the revised HazCom Standard must be in full compliance with the new GHS provisions. This is a critical area of focus, as HazCom violations have ranked high on OSHA's annual list of the top 10 violations since 2012. Common citations are issued for failure to maintain a written HazCom plan and improper labeling as well as lack of training and access to safety data sheets.

TIP: To avoid potential penalties or fines, make HazCom compliance a top priority. Consider using cloud-based and mobile-enabled electronic chemical management tools.

Using and reporting data to track compliance and safety

Leveraging big data is all the rage across multiple industry sectors and the construction field is no exception. The strategic use of data to track injuries and illnesses not only maximizes safety on the jobsite but can drive overall productivity. 

In May 2016, OSHA issued its final rule intended to modernize injury data collection to better inform employers, workers, the public and OSHA about workplace dangers. With this new rule, OSHA applied insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and injury prevention. Under the new rule, many employers in high-risk industries will be required to electronically submit a summary of injuries and illnesses to OSHA for posting on the agency's website. The new requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with phased-in data submissions starting in 2017.

TIP: Learn more about the new rule, understand OSHA’s injury and illness reporting requirements, and review and use the OSHA Forms for Recording Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. To simplify the data collection process company-wide, consider implementing an easy-to-use, single-point EHS platform.

WillScot is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our employees, customers and the communities we serve. We are dedicated to achieving a world-class culture in which every employee accepts the responsibility for creating and maintaining a healthy workplace.

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