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Do OSHA Regulations Apply to Independent Contractors?

In a 2001 standard interpretation letter, Russell Swanson, then-director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, made it clear that self-employed workers are not subject to OSHA’s construction safety standards. “If a construction worker is truly self-employed — is not an employee — and has no employees working for him or her, OSHA has no authority to require that individual to abide by OSHA construction requirements,” Swanson wrote. That seems simple enough. After all, the construction safety standards devised and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were built to protect employees. Independent contractors aren’t employees, as any tax professional will tell you. But what about subcontractors working under a general contractor? What about equal partners on the same job site?… Continue Reading

National Forklift Safety Day 2019: What It Is and Why It Matters

June 11, 2019 is the sixth annual National Forklift Safety Day. The Industrial Truck Association, the top trade organization for lift truck manufacturers, organizes this yearly industry event. The stated goal is to bring together forklift manufacturers, dealers, end users, and government regulators to raise awareness of crucial safety issues surrounding the use of forklifts. After all, everyone involved in… Continue Reading

Ergonomics for Electrical Workers

Some electricians deride the term “ergonomics” as a meaningless buzzword, pointing out that marketers use it to describe everything from wire strippers to work boots. Other electrical contractors are always up to their elbows in the latest biomechanical research, looking for ways to save their lower backs. Either way, the fact is that ergonomics can help create a safer, more… Continue Reading

Workplace Electrical Safety: Setting a Baseline with Injury Statistics

In honor of National Electrical Safety Month, we’re looking at electrical safety in the workplace throughout May. We’ll start with an examination of the current state of electrical safety, particularly as it relates to those most exposed to the risks: construction electricians themselves. You can’t figure out where you’re going until you know where you are, after all. In the… Continue Reading

Are OSHA Regulations the Same as Laws?

Most employers in the U.S. are familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or, as it’s better known, OSHA. They must adhere to OSHA regulations to avoid costly fines and other penalties. But what exactly is an OSHA regulation? How do standards differ from laws? Every citizen must obey the law, but are there occasions or circumstances that make… Continue Reading

Electricians and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Common Symptoms and Prevention Tips

For electricians, musculoskeletal disorders remain a serious occupational hazard. Electrical installation teams aren’t alone with this risk; workers in most construction trades face a higher risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders than those in other industries. Between 1992 and 2014, the rate of occupation-based musculoskeletal disorders remained higher in the construction industry than in all combined industries. This disproportionate rate of… Continue Reading

Safety and Ergonomics for Commercial Lighting Installation Jobs

Commercial lighting installation is a major part of any nonresidential construction project. It is important to recognize and address the safety hazards associated with the job — especially since these risks are intensified by strong demand for lighting in the commercial sector. The latest Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides a snapshot of… Continue Reading