In May of 2016, OSHA announced a new rule hoping to gain valuable data regarding workplace incidents would go into effect starting August 10, 2016. After the announcement, several construction industry groups spoke out about their apprehensions of the new rule and the effective date has recently been pushed back to November 1, 2016. The new rule will not only help OSHA gain data into workplace injuries, but it will also require construction companies to make their injury records public, much like restaurant health records are made public. Personal health data will still be kept private, but the injury numbers will be counted against employers. OSHA also requires employers to allow workers to report injury without fear of retaliation under the new rule.
OSHA released an official news release delaying the implementation date of the new rule within several days of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) announcement that the group has filed suit against OSHA. According to ABC, the injury rule would limit drug and alcohol testing after accidents occur. “…It’s inconceivable to those of us who study how to improve safety performance that OSHA would want to limit drug and alcohol testing as part of the investigation after an accident or near-miss incident. Root cause analysis is key to developing procedures that prevent future incidents, so we need to know whether drugs or alcohol were a factor, said Greg Sizemore, ABC Vice President of Health and Safety, Environment, and Workforce Development, in the news release.
The final rule, which you can read here, addresses OSHA’s stance on drug testing starting on page 194. While OSHA does state that they believe a blanket drug testing policy will limit proper reporting, it does not ban drug tests from taking place. They do, however, want to limit drug tests from taking place in situations that could not have been caused by drug or alcohol use, such as a bee sting, as they state. They believe this limitation will reduce an employer’s ability to retaliate against an employee through the threat of drug testing. They do also state that if drug testing is required by state or federal law, such as in cases involving worker’s compensation, then the employer can and should require testing, as that would not be considered retaliatory.
OSHA’s delay does not seem as though it will make the new rule disappear, however, as the OSHA news release stated that the delay was allowed in order to “conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.”
What’s your take on the new rule and the delay? Tell us in the comments!
The following is a guest post written by David B. Lever.
When construction sites are safer, then productivity increases as well as profits. More construction safety means less time lost due to accidents, lower insurance premiums, and less money spent repairing damaged equipment.
Jobsite pressures, such as time crunches and monetary issues can quickly tempt otherwise good people into making some pretty poor decisions. There are also others who use their construction business as a front for other illegal activities. Many people were arrested for a variety of reasons in 2016 and the list below should serve as both a reminder and a warning for those considering making bad decisions.
Last year, a devastating crane collapse killed more than 100 people and injured more than 200 others in Mecca, located in Saudi Arabia. Reports indicated that, at the time of the collapse, the boom was erected approximately 620 feet (190m).
There’s a small, but growing, fear in the construction industry that robots will soon make construction jobs obsolete, but, in all reality, the next logical step is for technology and robotics to first enhance the jobs of human construction workers. There is a lot of money being poured into the industry every day, looking for the next big piece of technology to take over jobsites by storm. A few recent examples are a bionic suit aimed at construction workers and an augmented reality smart hard hat. The next idea may make scaling walls at construction sites extremely easy.
One thing almost everyone agrees on: America’s infrastructure needs fixing.
Another thing most people agree on: No one enjoys the traffic congestion that results from bridge, road, and utility construction work.
As the construction labor shortage rages on throughout the industry, there have been concerns of how overworked employees or undertrained staff may affect job site safety. Although there’s no definitive proof that this problem is causing an increase in construction deaths and injuries, recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows trends pointing in the wrong direction.
Trenches are a construction jobsite hazard that happen on nearly every construction site involving dirt work, but, all too often their dangers are underestimated. In fact, trench related deaths in 2016 have more than doubled as compared to 2015. There’s no excuse for allowing a trench related death to happen, but it’s rare that job site supervision suffers criminal charges after one occurs. After the death of a 22 year old New York construction worker, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office took a hard stance against those responsible and announced formally sentenced the on-site foreman last week.
A large focus of the construction industry, especially in recent years, is jobsite safety. Many large companies have significant resources set aside specifically for safety, but, unfortunately, that may be impossible for many small and medium sized construction companies to handle. As of the first quarter of 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there are over 768,000 construction companies currently operating in the private industry and over 6.7 million construction workers between them. That’s a lot of companies and workers to keep safe throughout the year.
Trench collapse deaths are easily preventable. I’ll say it again: trench collapse deaths are easily preventable. So if they’re preventable, how do they continue to happen every year? Ignorance to safety rules, lack of supervision, pressures of time and money, and sometimes, outright laziness are all factors in trench related deaths and injuries. I’ve been on too many jobsites in my relatively young construction career that have extremely poor procedures for working in trenches and I’ve gotten every excuse in the book. The vast majority don’t even understand the basic requirements. At 4 feet deep, you need to provide a means of egress, at 5 feet deep you need proper protective systems, and keep soil and other materials 2 feet away from the edge of the trench. Those are the basics, everyone should know them.
One of the challenges with construction is determining how your work can and will affect the existing conditions surrounding your job site. That’s why it’s increasingly important to not only perform proper due diligence procedures, but also react to the findings. That, unfortunately, doesn’t always happen and could potentially be what caused a massive sinkhole in Fukuoka, Japan, last week.