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OSHA Reaches Out to Residential Construction Industry in Idaho

OSHA's Area Office in Boise, Idaho is working to reduce hazards in the residential construction industry in Idaho through a "local emphasis program" launched in 2004. In FY 2003, there were three fatalities in Idaho involving residential contractors. While investigating those accidents, OSHA found a lack of effective safety and health programs and limited knowledge of OSHA requirements. As a result of these finding, the Boise Area Office decided to launch the local emphasis program, which calls for outreach and education for residential contractors in Idaho and inspections at randomly selected residential construction sites.

The ongoing statewide outreach and education program includes training for employers and employees, as well as for staff at the Idaho Consultation Project at Boise State University. The Boise Area Office has used two types of training sessions to reach residential contractors and employees. In the first type, Compliance Assistance Specialist (CAS) Bill Bankhead worked with building supply stores to present hazard recognition and fall protection training to contractors and employees at the stores. The CAS trained 815 people at 22 of these sessions.

In the second type of training session, the Boise Area Office worked with the Idaho Association of General Contractors (IAGC) and the Idaho Building Contractors Association (IBCA) to sponsor and deliver training sessions called "Safety and Health Training in the Residential Construction Industry." OSHA's Region X promoted the sessions with news releases and the Boise Area Office included information on the sessions in newsletters, flyers, and letters to residential contractors. Local chapters of the IAGC and IBCA distributed flyers, provided training facilities, and provided other logistical support. These training sessions were open to all residential construction trades, home builders, specialty trade contractors, and building contractors, including non-IAGC and non-IBCA members. As of June 2005, approximately 500 individuals had attended 12 of these sessions.

The attendees at this second type of training session included company owners, managers, supervisors, foremen, and employees. IAGC consultant Bob Kohnke and CAS Bill Bankhead conducted the training. Mr. Kohnke provided an overview of OSHA, the inspection process, the site owner's responsibilities in relation to OSHA, and workers' compensation. Mr. Bankhead covered fall protection, including OSHA's interim fall protection guidelines for residential construction, electrical safety, caught-by hazards, and struck-by hazards. Mr. Bankhead also discussed the enforcement component of the local emphasis program and provided handouts of his presentation and OSHA's interim fall protection guidelines to all attendees.

The Boise Area Office has noticed a definite change in the safety culture at residential construction worksites since this local emphasis program was launched. According to the Area Office, more employees are wearing hard hats, safety glasses, and using fall protection equipment. There has also been an increase in the number of classes private consulting firms are presenting at the request of business owners and IBCA chapters. One IBCA chapter reported that over 350 people had been trained in an OSHA 10-hour course tailored for residential construction.

In a related initiative, the Boise Area Office is developing a Strategic Partnership for the Idaho residential construction industry. This Partnership would be similar to the successful Strategic Partnerships for Idaho Construction General Contractors/Construction Managers and Idaho Construction Specialty Trades.

For more information, please contact Bill Bankhead, OSHA's Compliance Assistance Specialist in the Boise Area Office.

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