Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Protecting the Public in Proximity to Construction Sites

A city block of construction with security fences and traffic control devices (Photo: Jan Thomas)For this week’s Guest Post Friday, Musings has the pleasure of welcoming Jan Thomas, President of Circle Safety & Health Consultants, LLC for her second Guest Post. Jan is an occupational safety and health professional with doctorate, over 30 years of experience at the federal, state and university levels, and professional certification. Her background includes regulatory compliance, accident and fatality investigations, development of policy and procedures, program management and extensive experience in education, training, research, technical writing, forensic consultation and expert witness testimony. She is also a friend of mine and can be found on LinkedIn or by e-mail.

We usually think about safety on construction sites with the focus on workers. The federal or state OSHA jurisdiction on commercial construction begins where an employer-employee relationship exists. In addition, CPL 2-0.124 –Multi-Employer Citation Policy dictates overall jobsite safety between contractors. So, when we need some basic guidance on safety we grab the OSHA standards.

But what about safety of the public – on adjoining streets or sidewalks, or across the fence in the school yard, or even across the intersection? What about invited visitors on site? OSHA is almost silent.

Some of the OSHA rules for protecting workers do secondarily protect the public. For example, OSHA requires placarding of parked equipment, barricading of open trenches or the swing-radius of a crane, and using flaggers at traffic work zones. But these are few and indirect.

What may be needed is an actual plan for public safety, especially at sites where the public is ever present (city streets) or in high-risk areas (near schools). Common sense may help guide such a plan but you may want to also check out a little-known consensus standard – ANSI/ASSE A10.34-2001 (R2005) Protection of the Public on or Adjacent to Construction.

Here is a quick review. The public is defined as “All persons and property not affiliated with the construction project. This includes invitees to the construction project who are not employed by the project constructor or contractors.” What about trespassers? They are excluded from the definition of the public. But, be sure to put up those No Trespasser signs to defend your property rights.

The consensus standard provides guidelines for developing a site-specific public hazard control plan and emergency action plan. Fourteen specific hazards are identified and the standard’s appendix provides a checklist. The consensus standard is fairly short but is a great place to start your thought process for extending safety beyond the boundaries of your construction site.

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  5. Thanks to @circlesafety for the great post!
    .-= Christopher G. Hill´s last blog post .. Urban Retrofits, Tall Buildings, and Sustainability =-.

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