Construction accidents are considered a “no-win” for all parties involved. The injured person will have to deal with the pain and agony of an injury followed by a recovery period; the employer will have to deal with labor issues, workers’ compensation, and the like. To prophylactically avoid labor force injury, the Washington State Legislature requires employers involved in potentially hazardous occupations to draft an accident prevention program, or APP.
In the construction industry in Washington state, employers must draft an APP. A template APP can be found on the Washington Department of Labor and Industries’s, or L & I’s, website. According to the L & I, the scope of these standards are as follows: “The standards included in this chapter apply throughout the state of Washington, to any and all workplaces subject to the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (chapter 49.17 RCW), where construction, alteration, demolition, related inspection, and/or maintenance and repair work, including painting and decorating, is performed. These standards are minimum safety requirements with which all industries must comply when engaged in the above listed types of work.”
The law requires management to not only draft an APP, it requires management to implement safety measures for the employees and contractors. This includes a proactive approach by management with respect to construction issues.
In addition, the law requires that at least one manager attends meetings that are focused on safety issues. The managers are tasked with providing realistic occupational safety goals that can be implemented.
There are a number of requirements that supervisors must follow, which should be listed in the APP. Here are some examples:
- Assure that health and safety goals are assured and understood.
- Conduct routine walkarounds and inspections of a construction site or similar work environment.
- Train the employees and contractors in the proper and efficient methods for accomplishing their jobs. This includes ensuring new hires are properly trained for their positions, e.g. the person managing the forklift is skilled and understands the specific requirements of the job.
- Look at the industry for injury trends; if construction workers have been injured in other locales, implement safety measures at this location so a similar occurrence at this construction site will be unlikely to happen.
- Participate in investigations of accidents and complaints regarding possible hazards.
- In the event of an accident, the supervisor should show interest in the injured and express hope in a return to work.
In the unfortunate event of an accident, the employer should have a procedure for investigating the accident and applying medical care. A few items of note:
- The employer should have an investigation plan. Often, a construction site will need to be investigated as is to determine how the accident occurred. Therefore, an APP should state that nothing should be moved unless it is necessary for the safety of the injured or other workers, as an example. This will help the investigation.
- Require that someone remain with the injured person until medical help arrives.
Labor issue? Contact the HKM law firm, a Washington state labor and employment firm.