Ensuring Safety On-Site: Subcontractor Protocols and Requirements

Finding a contractor with the right qualifications is a crucial first step toward ensuring your project’s success, especially in the rural telecommunications industry. Contractors not only broaden the workforce, but add a level of expertise that often translates to more product installed on a more efficient timeline. The skill set of a subcontractor, however, can only be measured by their standards for safety.

The health and safety of your subcontractors and their employees must remain a top priority – because even small injuries present a major risk to your business. That’s why ensuring the proper safety protocols are in place protects the wellbeing of both your contractors and your company.

Telcom Insurance Group highly values safety, encouraging our clients to take the same proactive approach. By putting safety plans in place, we help protect all parties involved. Keep reading to learn more about safety procedure regulation on a federal level – and to discover communication’s role in staying safe.

What is OSHA? A Brief History

While safety plans and procedures are one responsibility of contractors and businesses as a whole, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is focused solely on setting and enforcing safety standards. These guidelines are in place to protect workers in various industries, including telecommunications.

OSHA was the result of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, stating that employers must abide by the following:

  • Find and correct hazards relating to safety and health
  • Maintain accurate records of work-related injuries or illness
  • Follow standards and protocols set forth by OSHA

Along with requirements for employers, the law also afforded rights regarding health and safety to employees, stating that every employee has the right to:

  • Working conditions that don’t pose a risk of serious harm
  • Receive information and educational training on hazards and OSHA standards
  • Access to review records of work-related injuries and illness
  • File a complaint with OSHA to inspect their place of work

OSHA has developed a manual of safety standards for various industries, with a specific section dedicated to hazards in the telecommunications industry. Along with their set standards, OSHA also provides extensive training, outreach, education, and assistance programs to best equip the workforce for success. With protection and prevention in mind, OSHA’s workplace safety manual states that “no person should ever have to be injured, become ill, or die for a paycheck.”

Industry-Specific Telecommunications Safety Requirements

Safety precautions differ from one industry to the next, requiring regulations that are far from one-protocol-fits-all. Within the telecommunications industry, risks range from hazardous chemical use to exposed power ground wires during pole line installation.

Subcontractors are not only obligated to comply with federal, state and local safety requirements, but site-specific safety programs and requirements set forth by the business owner or entity.

OSHA Regulations: 1910.268 Telecommunications 

This section applies specifically to safety standards within the telecommunications industry, ranging from personal protective equipment use to induced voltages encountered while performing on-site duties.

Initial telecommunications regulations outlined in OSHA’s standards apply to center work and field work. Center work, which involves a telecommunications facility or data center, includes the installation, operation, maintenance, rearrangement, and removal of communications equipment. Field work, similarly, involves on-site activity following the same formula as center work. The key difference is that field work also includes the rearrangement and removal of conductors and other equipment used for signal or communication services.

OSHA not only sets the standard for safety, but includes training requirements within telecom industry regulations. This section states that employers will provide training in safety practices, whether on the job or in a classroom setting.

In the field of telecommunications, subcontractors often have the opportunity to work on-site or within a customer’s home. Due to the wide range of potential hazards, OSHA also includes training on recognizing and avoiding dangers related to harmful substances, animals, insects or plant life.

29 Code of Federal Regulation 1926

Because many telecommunications companies hire contractors for construction purposes,this OSHA regulation is important to know as well.

For more information, consult OSHA regulations (Section 1910.268) or contact Telcom Insurance Group. We’re happy to help!

General Safety Guidelines and Responsibilities 

While business operations vary from one company to the next, there are several general guidelines and responsibilities worth mentioning. These are all-inclusive and apply to the hiring of subcontractors.

  • Subcontractors shall perform and execute the work required while complying with safety responsibilities indicated by OSHA and the business entity’s specific needs and requirements.
  • Subcontractors shall maintain documentation verifying compliance of safety protocols and procedures, and will be made available upon request.
  • Subcontractors will be held responsible for assuring communication and compliance of safety protocols by all lower-tier subcontractors, employees, and other personnel.
  • Subcontractors will adhere to personal protective equipment, or PPE, requirements (this includes gloves, aprons, goggles, etc.).
  • For serious or potentially serious incidents that occur while on the job, a formal incident review will be required.
  • Development and follow-through of a site-safety plan, outlining how a contractor will manage risks and health and safety requirements while on the worksite, is required.

Safety Touchpoints: Collaborating With Contractors

By following OSHA regulations and general guidelines, it may seem that adequate coverage is in place to ensure safety on every level. But you can never be too careful when the safety of your employees and your company is on the line.

For comprehensive coverage, it is best to communicate with your subcontractor and obtain the following documentation or details before any work begins. The cost of a delayed project is lower than that of a serious accident, making it well-worth the effort of ensuring that all safety requirements are met.

Obtain the following information and documentation from your subcontractor:

  • Relevant contact information
  • OSHA citation history for the past 3 years
  • Name and contact information for Human Resources personnel
  • Designated safety official’s name and contact information
  • Copy of safety manual
  • Copy of safety data sheets for chemicals used on worksite
  • List of completed safety training education
  • List of supplied PPE issued

Because results are confidential, confirm that the contractor requires these:

  • Completed background checks of all on-site employees
  • Drug & Alcohol test for those:
    • Entering customer homes
    • Driving with a CDL on work locations

Should a loss occur, having the contact information of important personnel and obtaining the appropriate safety documentation could prevent a major setback in the event of a workplace injury or loss.

Ensure Subcontractor Safety with Telcom Insurance Group

When it comes to safety, putting the right protocols and procedures in place not only protects your business from a financial setback, but protects the employees who keep it running.

At Telcom Insurance Group, the safety of our rural telecommunications professionals and their subcontractors is our top priority. We understand how confusing safety requirements can be, with lengthy regulations often full of complicated lingo. We’re here to make safety simple, so if you need guidance when hiring subcontractors or putting the proper protections in place, our team can help!

To get started, contact Telcom Insurance Group today!