Approach Management

Compliance Officers and “The Big Four”

When a compliance officer shows up on the job to do a site inspection for safety violations they will look at the “Big Four”.


1. Falls
2. Struck By
3. Caught Between
4. Electrical



If these four areas are found to be satisfactory, the compliance officer has the option to end the inspection at that point and leave the job site.

On many construction sites, whether they are residential or commercial construction, safety professionals will use these four-basic job site hazard subjects to start the conversation with employees.


1) Falls From Elevated Heights

Focus areas include falls from the same elevation, ladders, floors and other openings on the walking/working surfaces.
How about roof surfaces (don’t forget skylight wells), and the need to have guardrails or other fall protection devices installed. Has training taken place for the usage of fall protection especially in Personal Fall Protection for arrest or restraint?
Is there a fall protection work plan on site and is it filled out?
Who is the competent person on inspection of the fall protection systems?
Is the fall protection being used correctly?
Compliance officers look for personal fall protection systems (PFAS) on the job-site and it becomes a focus of their attention.
Also, something to think about - when a compliance officer sees someone working on a roof, they typically will stop to see if a worker is exposed to fall hazards.


2) Being Struck By

Being struck by includes being hit by a hand or power tool. For example, when you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer holding down a nail. You were struck by the hammer causing an injury. There are a lot of other more serious examples. One is using a nail gun and accidentally discharging a nail into a body part. An amputation of a hand or finger by a saw blade because the guard was removed, or material being hoisted and the load falls.
A worker was struck by a tape measure that fell from a construction tower project. The tape measure ricocheted off the building striking a delivery driver several hundred yards away killing him.
When working around vehicles, your chances of being struck by a vehicle is very real. Traffic control flaggers and work zone workers are exposed to struck by hazards constantly


3) Being Caught Between or Under

Compliance officers will also look at the following “caught between” on the job-site;
They will stop and inspect when they see an excavation or hole in the ground. These are dangerous areas and workers have been killed in trench or excavation collapses. Also, the compliance officer will look at workers raising a framed wall. If the wall falls backwards, a worker is potentially exposed to being “caught between.” In this case, between the wall and the floor, hips and legs have been broken by falling walls. And finally, working around heavy or moving equipment you could get caught between the movement of the equipment and another object.

4) Electrical

This applies to all electrical hazards, such as overhead power lines, electrical cords. Electrical hazards are the silent killer. Almost all workers are exposed to electrical hazards. It powers our tools, provides lighting to our projects and operates a lot of equipment.
How much electricity does it take to kill a person? Not a lot, if in the right conditions. Typical home power - 110 volts can cause a worker to go into cardiac arrest or sustain internal injuries.
How close can you get to unprotected electrical circuits? 10 feet is required for the unqualified worker. A compliance officer will look to see how close the scaffolding is from power lines, or how far away workers are where the activity is taking place in relation to overhead power lines.
Is the GFCI working correctly?


This focus on the “Big Four” is what the regulatory compliance officers look for. It is a good practice for supervisors and workers to have this same focus and mind set when working on a project.
Keeping the big 4 exposures to a minimum or even better eliminated, will keep workers safe.
Also, when a compliance officer shows up, he leaves and says this is the best job I’ve been on.


Let’s all be safe out there!


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