Responsibilities of a Construction Safety Officer

Construction workers on site wearing orange vests and hard hats for safety
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A construction safety officer ensures that construction workers are following established policies and safety regulations. A construction safety officer may take on additional roles and responsibilities, but their primary job is to help create safer construction sites. Construction safety officers work closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Safety Trends in Construction

The future of construction is shifting towards augmented reality, 3D models, building information modeling (BIM) and other technologies that could change the way a safety officer interacts at the workplace.

All the technology used in construction helps safety officers detect and be aware of potential hazards earlier in the planning process, thus creating response plans that reduce the likelihood of accidents.

Some companies are using drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to conduct safety audits and inspections instantaneously, letting the safety officer observe events as if they were right there next to the person performing the task.

Policy and Regulation Maintenance

Safety officers develop, implement, and enforce policies that reduce the risk of accidents. The safety officer determines what policies are needed and how to enforce them.

The safety officer is also responsible for keeping policies up-to-date, meeting the latest standards, and establishing new ones from time to time as more and newer risks are discovered.

Site Safety Inspection

The safety officer is in charge of inspecting site conditions to determine if hazards are present and to establish procedures and policies to overcome those hazardous situations.

The safety officer looks for broken equipment, defective tools, and other potential hazards. He also determines what type of personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed and makes sure that workers know how to operate and use tools and equipment. 

Accident Investigation

The safety officer's main responsibility is to diminish or eliminate work-related accidents. But if an accident occurs, the safety officer will conduct a safety investigation to determine root causes, what procedures may have gone wrong, and to gather the evidence necessary to identify the cause of the accident.

Based on the investigation results, the safety officer will document findings and recommendations that should be followed to prevent the accident from happening again.

Some of the most common situations covered by safety officers are related to using faulty equipment and electrical-cord extensions, trenching and excavating, using formwork, and working on roofs and elevated surfaces.

Construction Safety Officer Training

A construction safety officer needs to be proactive, staying a step ahead of the group on safety and environmental hazards. In doing so, the officer trains all employees and identifies special requirements for employees.

The safety officer also provides training to employees on safety topics required by OSHA. These include fire prevention plans, machine guarding, and hazardous materials handling.

Record Keeping

The safety officer is also responsible for reviewing and meeting all state and federal safety standard requirements for record-keeping. This involves submitting the OSHA form 300, which is a summary of all injuries that resulted in lost work time, restricted duties, or job transfers.

They also ensure that the poster entitled "Job Safety and Health: It's the Law" and other documents are displayed in readily visible and accessible locations in the workplace, as required by OSHA.

Miscellaneous Responsibilities

A construction safety officer must also take care of the following duties:

  • Verify that injury reports are submitted to related government agencies
  • Perform emergency response drills
  • Coordinate registration and removal of hazardous waste
  • Receive reports from and responds to orders by Department of Labor inspectors
  • Arrange for OSHA-mandated testing and/or evaluations