Does the presence of a safety director reduce accidents and injuries on a construction site? This is the question posed in a recent article published by ArkansasBusiness.com. In it, Bailey & Oliver attorney Sach Oliver weighs in on the notion that a dedicated safety advocate may prevent workers from harm.
Last month, a worker died after falling from scaffolding on a Little Rock construction site. He fell 11 feet and hit his head on a block of cement foundation. The death is still being investigated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
Would having a qualified safety director on that site have prevented the worker’s death? While there is no way of knowing what may have happened, Oliver is sure it wouldn’t have hurt.
“Having a safety director who is advocating safety is so much better than the company that ignores safety altogether,” Oliver said. “On these construction sites, we’re dealing with large equipment, where generally the injury is catastrophic or, unfortunately, death. And that’s one reason safety has to be such a high priority.”
Oliver knows that the presence of a safety director doesn’t ensure accidents won’t happen, and he says he has seen some in the position who are less than effective. Still, insulating construction workers from protection takes layers of regulation and precaution.
According to OSHA, falls from a height are the primary cause of death on construction sites nationwide and in Arkansas.
OSHA regulations permit three approved systems for securing a worker from a height of six feet or higher: a body harness, a guardrail system or a safety net. In this scenario, a safety director would be able to regulate the use of these systems which, in itself, could prevent an injury or accident from occurring.
Falls, however, are not the only dangers on a construction site. Site location, improper use of equipment, faulty gear and many other factors contribute to the potential for harm, but Oliver believes a safety director might be able to make a difference with those variables, too.