After two recent construction worker deaths and a steep rise in construction injuries in New York City, the Department of Buildings is preparing to crack down on those companies not keeping their workers safe.
According to Politico New York, construction related injuries in New York 2015 have risen 34% versus 2014 (283 from 211) and construction related deaths have nearly doubled (11 from 6), resulting in the highest numbers for both categories since at least 2010. The most recent deaths included a 30 year old man falling 30 feet down an elevator shaft and a 25 year old falling 24 stories down an elevator shaft. The latter’s family is now suing the construction companies involved in that project.
The Department of Buildings recently issued a warning to contractors that they would be cracking down on repeat safety offenders. In the press release, the Department announced that it would not only have the authority to enforce many kinds of disciplinary actions, but that it could also issue stop work orders on job sites and revoke contractor licenses.
“…the implementation of new proactive regulatory enforcement efforts through the suspension of a contractor’s registration for receiving multiple immediately hazardous violations over a 24 month period. The disciplinary action – part of an overall strategy of imposing greater accountability and integrity within the construction industry – comes following multiple cases in recent months where unscrupulous construction professionals have cut corners during projects to the detriment of workers or public safety,” the department stated.
In addition to the crack down on repeat offenders, the department has also issued an “Industry Code of Conduct,” which outlines ethics codes, licensing standards, and abuse of privilege. In it, Commissioner Rick Chandler explained industry professionals, “Our Department’s mission is to facilitate safe and compliant development that supports our economy and revitalizes our neighborhoods. Your obligation is to conduct business with the Department in a lawful, honest and professional manner. Together, our work maintains the vibrancy and viability of New York City’s buildings and property.
Construction injuries jumped 34 percent in a year, data shows | Politico New York
In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium, a mineral that can cause deadly lung disease. While not as commonly encountered in the construction industry as other substances that cause terrible lung diseases, like crystalline silica and asbestos, beryllium is linked to a disease called chronic beryllium disease, which kills around 100 people each year. It’s commonly found in coal slag, which is used for sandblasting. According to the New York Times, OSHA estimates that 11,500 construction workers would be affected by OSHA’s reduced exposure limit.
As recently highlighted by several multi-story building fires, contractors should always be prepared in the event a fire starts on a job site. There have been dozens multi-story building fires in the past few years and many were started when the building was topped out. In most cases, the project was completely destroyed, leaving developers and owners to deal with years of delays from insurance claims. A massive five-alarm fire at an Oakland construction site is one of the more recent examples.
In a year that OSHA can’t seem to enforce any new rules, it appears to have found a way to remove a rule from its books. As announced last week, OSHA has removed monorail hoists from Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Employers are still required to follow other OSHA regulations regarding the hoists, but this rule should help clear up some inconsistencies.
For many construction superintendents and project managers across the world, tablets are becoming one of the most important tools on the job site. They’re great for looking at plans, taking pictures, making notes, and running your favorite construction apps. Carrying a tablet does take up at least one of your hands, however, so it can be a hindrance if you need to help a co-worker lift material or climb a ladder.
High demand battery packs have allowed many construction workers ditch the cords on jobsites throughout the country, by providing more power and longer runtime. As with any battery packs, it’s important to follow safety warnings, but with a higher capacity can sometimes mean greater consequences when those warnings are not followed.
Since the beginning of the year, OSHA has had a pretty hard time enforcing any of its new rules due to delays. The silica dust exposure rule was delayed 90 to September 23, the crane certification rule is facing yet another possible delay, and now the electronic injury reporting rule is facing another delay.
Just before 11 am on Monday morning, 6/26, firefighters were called to an under-construction residential building in Queens, New York after concrete scaffolding and formwork collapsed during a pour.
Two construction workers in Sarasota, Florida were recently trapped 15 stories in the air after one of the lines on their suspended scaffolding snapped. One of the two men was able to be pulled to safety by some co-workers on site, but the second was stuck on the scaffold for an hour before the fire department could rescue him.
According to OSHA, more than 40 percent of all heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry. Many more workers also become ill from extreme heat and humidity. With summer now in full effect, it’s time to re-evaluate your personal steps for keeping safe in the heat and how your company is going to help their employees stay safe.
Every now and then a new product comes along and you ask yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?!” The OVAL Fire Extinguisher is just that product. Architecture and interior design have been moving towards cleaner lines in their spaces. Foregone are the days of bulky protruding water fountains (bubblers for my northern friends) and fire extinguisher cabinets. Interior designers are looking for cleaner and sleeker interior spaces but the 10lb fire extinguishers and cabinets have not changed for quite some time. OVAL is about to change all that.