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Awards, initiatives, penalties raise workplace safety awareness in Colorado

June 13, 2023, 5:21 pm

A construction contractor in Colorado has recently been recognized with a ‘Star’ designation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries and the Star award is currently held by less than 2,000 sites across the country. The award highlights good work but at the same time, when workers are unnecessarily exposed to hazards, penalties for safety violations also remind employers of their responsibilities to provide a safe working environment at all times. New legislative packages are proposed to improve workplace safety and prevent catastrophic events, while localized health and safety initiatives help to minimize risks further for employees. 

Dealing with Excavation and Trenching Accidents

A number of worker fatalities caused by excavation collapses have been recorded in Colorado over the past few years. A Vail contractor has recently been charged with manslaughter after an accident in 2021 when an unsafe trench collapsed around a worker installing sewer pipes. A similar incident occurred in the West Valley of Phoenix the year before when construction workers were buried by dirt while digging to find a sewer line. These serious accidents resulted in fatalities, but Arizona Catastrophic Injury Lawyers note that similar events can also lead to life-changing injuries and health issues that have long-term effects on people’s quality of life. Proving liability for an accident can be complicated but, in both these cases, the contractors were identified as being at fault and made to pay penalties.

Extending Health and Safety Inspections of Fall Hazards

The accidents also led to demands from relatives of the victims for further safety reforms. OSHA frequently revises its guidance and safety programs in order to reduce workplace risks and last fall, offices in Colorado, Montana, and South Dakota introduced a new initiative called Weekend Work. Construction sites tend to be less well monitored on Saturdays and Sundays and this can lead to a greater risk of falling, so OSHA representatives undertook health and safety inspections at the weekend to identify and remove additional fall hazards. Moving forward, sites were advised to assign weekend supervisors to check on workers and ensure that safety protocols are followed normally. 

Encouraging Resort Employees to Share Safety Risks

Last year, an innovative staff safety initiative introduced at Breckenridge ski resort won a National Ski Areas Association Employee Safety Program Award. The program “Focus on Today” encouraged employees to identify safety hazards such as icy paths or a heightened risk of avalanche which could affect the overall safety of their colleagues. Like a range of creative safety programs introduced at resorts around the country, this initiative was found to increase morale amongst employees as well as reduce risks to both staff and guests.

Although at different ends of the scale, awards and penalties can both help to raise awareness of the importance of safety initiatives in the workplace.  Effective initiatives ensure that employees are involved in safety management  to create a better and healthier working environment.

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