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Cal/OSHA vs. Fed/OSHA: A Comprehensive Guide To the Crucial Differences
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A Publication of California Employer Resources

Construction: Create a Code of Safe Practices to Enhance Compliance and Safety
November 2007
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Construction Safety Order Section 1509 requires all construction employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that complies with the General Industry IIPP rules (found in General Industry Safety Order Section 3203). But Section 1509 also requires construction employers to adopt a Code of Safe Practices. This code should provide guidance to help keep employees and the worksite safe. It must be:

  • prepared specifically for the employer's operations
  • conspicuously posted at each jobsite office or be readily available from each worker's supervisor
  • made available for new workers to read—and they must be instructed to read it

Sample Code of Safe Practices

A sample Code of Safe Practices is found in Construction Safety Order Section 1938, Appendix A, Plate A-3. (See the link at the end of this article.) According to Cal/OSHA, your code must contain “language equivalent to the relevant parts” of the sample code but must also be tailored to your operations. This means you may have to add topics not covered by Cal/OSHA's template. Many employers, for example, have added sections on crane safety.

The sample code has five sections. Briefly, these sections cover:

General requirements. General safe practices cover training in and enforcement of safe work rules; hazard and injury reporting; prohibition of drugs, alcohol, horseplay, and using gasoline for cleaning; sanitation; and preplanning for safety. This section also includes general safety requirements addressing the following hazards:

  • confined spaces
  • machine guards
  • safe lifting
  • protective footgear
  • protection from falling objects
  • extension ladders
  • hot work
  • damage to scaffolds

Use of tools and equipment. Tools and equipment must be maintained in good condition and tagged out of service if they are not. Only appropriate tools may be used for the job; specific prohibitions in this category include forbidding using screwdrivers as chisels and files as punches; substituting pipe wrenches or Stillson wrenches for other types; and using handle extensions on wrenches. Electric tools and cords are also covered here.

Machinery and vehicles. Machines and equipment may only be operated by authorized employees. General requirements for safe operation of machinery include lockout/tagout requirements and prohibitions against loose clothing, long hair, and jewelry. Heavy equipment rules include prohibitions against operating construction equipment in unsafe situations. Requirements for compressed air hoses and excavations are also found in this section.

Blasting operations. Some of the safe work practices for blasting operations are designed to prevent unintended explosions—such as the requirements that shoes with nails or metal plates not be worn near explosives or that blasting caps be carried in approved containers. Other requirements are aimed at minimizing the potential for catastrophe, for example, by limiting the number of workers involved in loading and firing and the amount of explosive used, and by requiring that holes loaded during a shift be fired during that same shift. Specific rules address electric blasting and misfires.

Roofing operations. Like blasting operations, roofing operations get their own section in the Code of Safe Practices. Most of the requirements found here apply to working with hot tar, including appropriate work clothing and protective gear, fire extinguishers, and kettle covers. A single instruction addresses ladders and prohibits using gutters for support.

Find Out More

You can read the entire text of Section 1938, Appendix A, on the DIR website. To see an example of a Code of Safe Practices that a California employer developed, you can look through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Code. You can also check out one developed by the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, for use in the motion picture and television industry.

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