Stories about reducing regulatory oversight on businesses as a way to strengthen the private sector and encourage investment have been in the news recently.
While it’s true that regulatory agencies and government departments are known to add more bureaucracy than they remove, at a local level, these agencies can be more of an asset to a business and not just red tape.
At the federal level, OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, exists to assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women. For example, in Michigan, MiOSHA’s stated goal is “[working] collaboratively with employers and employees to better prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.” Collaboration is the key word here.
From Regulator to Resource
OSHA regulations can be confusing, difficult to interpret and sometimes, seemingly contradictory. Navigating these regulations can be (and typically is in larger firms) a full-time job. Even with dedicated in-house resources, contractors find themselves constantly facing changing jobsite conditions and situations that require interpretations of safety regulations. At the state level, look for OSHA divisions that provide needed resources, such as free jobsite visits and inspections to assist contractors with difficult jobsite conditions.
Make a Public Proclamation for Safety
Another great way to partner with local regulators is to publicly announce a project partnership. These declarations are public proclamations that the regulators and the partnering firms are putting the safety of their workers above everything else and establishes a team approach to safety. The local chapter and the partnering contractors sign a pledge to strive for zero safety incidents on the project. Regular site inspections should be conducted and are, in most cases, free from citations and penalties.
Remember the Mission
When it comes to the safety of construction workers, the issue transcends politics. The safety of another human being is a moral obligation and when those moral obligations are challenged by things like tight schedules and profits, regulators should step in. Construction industry professionals should consider OSHA not as a disciplinarian, but as a valuable consultant. It also helps that in most cases, consultations and programming from OSHA are free of charge. The only effort needed is to seek out these partners and be honest about where the company’s safety program could use support. Those that are open to a different perspective, will receive a different result.