The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a new guide, "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction," Thursday to offer employers additional resources that can help create a safe workplace.
OSHA said the new guidelines — which don't change current legal requirements or add rules — will likely be most helpful to small and mid-sized contractors, who don't always have access to training specialists and safety information.
In its guide, the agency emphasizes the importance of training construction workers to identify hazards, plan responses to emergencies and properly inspect job sites to find potential safety and health issues.
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S., as construction fatalities accounted for 20.6% of total private industry fatalities in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The construction industry also saw 233 Latino worker deaths in 2014 — the most of any industry — as well as the highest number of immigrant worker deaths, at 217, according to the AFL-CIO.
Earlier this year, OSHA implemented a 78% fine increase for safety violations, in compliance with a federally mandated rate increase to bring its penalty amounts in line with the Consumer Price Index — representing the first increase since 1990.
OSHA is also cracking down on businesses that continue to defy safety regulations through its Severe Violators program, to which the agency added 520 companies between 2010 and mid-April 2016. Of those companies, OSHA said 60% were construction-related.
The most common OSHA citations for construction have remained largely unchanged through the years, with fall protection consistently topping the list. Falls account for four in 10 work-related fatalities in the industry.