standards, preferably long before any incident occurs.

3 SIMPLE STEPS TO FINDING AN OSHA-COMPLIANT CONTRACTOR A sk your potential contractor the first two questions and perform the third tip to find an OSHA-compliant contractor. 1. DOES THE CONTRACTOR HAVE A SAFETY PROGRAM IN PLACE? Contractors should have a safety program in place for their employees and offer a safety manual. Employees should be trained on current, proper safety procedures such as harnessing for roof and tree work or knowing what equipment to wear for indoor air pollution from lead paint, asbestos, and such hazards. If your contractor does not have a safety program in place, consider finding another contractor or continue accepting bids. 2. DOES THE CONTRACTOR ROUTINELY PERFORM JOB SITE AND JOB HAZARD INSPECTIONS? Responsible contractors demonstrate their concern and value for safety by performing regular site and hazard inspections. Regular safety inspections help prevent accidents that could result in injuries to workers, workers’ compensation payments and insurance, higher insurance premiums, and OSHA fines. 3. PERFORM AN OSHA DATA & STATISTICS SEARCH. Find out if your potential hire has any previous or current OSHA violations by going straight to the source. Go to the OSHA website,, and select the drop-down tab “Data.” In right column of drop-down, choose “Inspection Search by Establishment,” and when the Establishment search page appears, fill out the form and click submit. A grid will appear with information about when cases were opened, what state the violations happened, whether it was a referral, planned inspection, complaints and a few other inspection types. You will also find any other names that the business uses.

HERE’S HOWTHAT PROCESS MIGHT LOOK: You’ve completed due diligence on your comps for an investment. You start putting together your plan for a remodel or new build. Now, you’re looking for a contractor. How do you know if they are in compliance with OSHA or if they have had OSHA violations? Regardless of the job site – fix-and-flip, buy-and-hold, commercial property or a total rebuild – the contractors you hire or subcontractors they hire are an extension of your invest- ment. They are what creates the value for your investment and, as far as OSHA is concerned, extend responsibility to you to some extent. Stay on the safe side by using the three simple tips in the sidebar to find an OSHA-compliant contractor that meets your needs. Even if you are not found legally liable for OSHA violations on your job sites, no one wants an accident or injury during a project. Not only are they bad for the injured party, but accidents are bad for your bottom line and your real estate brand as well. Hiring non-compliant contractors with past OSHA violations leads to higher insurance costs and, if there is another incident, you could end up embroiled in a lawsuit or facing fines for employing these individuals. OSHA fines range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. No matter the outcome of the lawsuit, you still will lose time and money dealing with the issue. • HOWDOES OSHA AFFECT YOU?


by Heather A. Elwing


“Statewide, OSHA cited residential-con- struction employers with 576 serious or willful violations and 170 less-serious violations.” At least 19 home-construc- tion companies are located within the Treasure Valley area of Idaho that “failed three or more inspections in the timeframe because of serious work- er-safety violations.” The publication went on, “Employers were cited with more than 400 serious or willful safety violations,” from 2011 through 2016. If you have ever rehabbed a property or even just hired a company to clean out a foreclosure before you wholesaled it, then you have been closer than most to the is- sue the Statesman described. Even remod- eling your own home can place you at risk if your contractors do not handle OSHA correctly or are uninsured. For example, if a worker is injured while working on your project and their employer is not insured, OSHA may hold you responsible for the damage depending on how long they

of OSHA. They set and enforce safety standards in the workplace by offering education, training, outreach, and assis- tance for employers or employees who are concerned with jobsite safety. Yet even with OSHA in place, work-related injuries and deaths still occur. In 2016, OSHA reported 1,080 fatalities for reasons ranging from not using proper safety equipment, such as proper harnessing for work performed on roofs and trees, to not wearing effec- tive safety masks for gas exposure. As of May 24, 2017, had reported 387 fatalities for this year alone. Perhaps not surprisingly, OSHA vio- lations often occur around construction, development, or renovation, all areas re- lated to real estate. In Idaho, for example, recent OSHA violations on construction job sites have made headlines that are creating additional scrutiny for certain real estate professionals. According to the Idaho Statesman,

s a business owner, you’re likely aware of the Occupational Safety and Housing Administration (OSHA). If you have ever owned an office space and had employees or worked in such an environment yourself, you proba- bly have seen OSHA posters outlining safety concerns and procedures hanging in the back office. While many em- ployees and even their employers find themselves becoming somewhat blind to these posters over time, there is a method to OSHA’s insistence on their display and the heavy fines the adminis- tration levies on employers who do not follow safety guidelines. A LITTLE OSHA HISTORY The Occupational Safety and Hous- ing Act of 1970 was enacted to ensure the safety of and healthy working conditions for all working women and men. With this Act came the creation

were working on your house and in what capacity. When the property is an invest- ment property and may be considered part of your business, the odds that you will be held responsible increase further and potential losses climb. SAFETY SHOULD ALWAYS COME FIRST As a real estate professional, if you have injuries on your job site it is likely that

you will need to demonstrate you adhere to OSHA guidelines and standards in the wake of those incidents. Often, real estate investors assume that because they have few or no direct employees and instead employ contracts for rehab work and other maintenance issues, they are not responsible for following OSHA guide- lines. However, it is vitally important that you ascertain how your contractors are abiding by OSHA regulations and that your investment properties meet OSHA

Heather A. Elwing is the assistant editor for Think Realty Magazine and is a licensed Realtor in Missouri working on her GREEN designation. She may be

reached at

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