Fatigue and the construction site do not mix, but unfortunately it happens more than we’d all like. Construction work long and odd hours, with many jobs beginning extremely early in the morning or late at night. Fatigue not only reduces productivity, but it’s a major safety concern, especially with regards to operating heavy machinery. According to the National Sleep Foundation (sounds like a fantastic place to work, I bet they have an amazing worktime nap schedule), yearly estimates for fatigue caused auto accidents average around 100,000, resulting in approximately 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
To help reduce the risk of fatigue related incidents in the construction industry, Caterpillar has designed a safety system that monitors the facial movements of heavy equipment operators and will alert them if the system determines they are drowsy or distracted.
“Customers have talked to us for many years about what they called ‘unexplained incidents,’ where they try to understand where the safety risks were coming from or what were the root causing of several of these accidents on job sites,” said Dave Edwards, of Caterpillar Safety Services, “they got a hunch that it might have something to do with the operator's ability to drive a machine 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.”
A smart camera mounted in the dashboard of Caterpillar vehicles can watch the facial behaviors and determine if their eyes are open or not. While the system will try to wake the operator up before an accident occurs by using alarms, the program will also alert a safety operator from Caterpillar and they can review video from the smart camera to determine what happened. CAT says this operator is provided to help react to situations much faster, because workers on the job site are typically very busy.
Last November, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced felonious assault charges against a contractor’s superintendent and a manufacturer’s branch manager after two men suffered horrific injuries on a New York jobsite. Last week, OSHA formally announced citations against the St. Louis, Missouri based contractor.
After an uptick in construction industry fatalities in 2016, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that both the amount of construction worker deaths and the rate of fatality dropped in 2017.
At the National Safety Council Congress & Expo on October 23, 2018, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2018.
On March 15, 2018, 6 people were killed and 8 others were injured when an under construction pedestrian bridge collapsed in Florida. Several months later, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their preliminary report while conducting an official investigation. The NTSB later issued an “Investigative Update” to their preliminary report in August. In Mid-November, the NTSB released a 2nd investigative update, narrowing their root cause theories.
The City of New York is getting serious about construction regulation and using the full extent of the law to punish those who have acted negligently on the jobsite. Last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio issued a new law requiring all construction workers to undergo, at minimum, 40 hours of safety training. In 2016, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. successfully convicted a construction foreman of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment after a laborer was killed in a trench collapse that he was overseeing. Earlier this month, DA Vance announced assault charges against a superintendent and branch manager after 2 men suffer horrific injuries on their jobsite.
The long delayed rule for crane operator certification has new life as OSHA has issued yet another final rule, after making alterations and clarifications. OSHA originally planned to require all crane operators to obtain certifications in 2010, but it has been delayed several times since then. A different final rule was proposed in 2017, but it was announced in May of 2018 that the administration intended to alter the rule.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of 3 different drills manufactured by Black & Decker due to safety concerns.
Just over a year ago, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma blew through Miami, Florida, bringing extremely high speed wind with it. The wind caused 3 cranes to collapse in southern Florida, 2 in downtown Miami and 1 more in Ft. Lauderdale. Interesting video of the dismantling of one of the failed cranes was shared on Youtube.
In September of 2017, OSHA’s new standard on exposure to respirable crystalline silica went into effect in the construction industry. The rule lowered the allowable exposure to the harmful substance to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, a measurement that we’re all familiar with [/sarcasm]. After a full year of enforcement, OSHA is considering making a change to the rule.