The people over at Gizmodo and Safer America have put together a stunning visualization of "The Human Cost of Construction". It is an amazing and often untold look into just how dangerous of a profession construction can be. Most of the deadliest construction projects were large infrastructure projects in the early 20th century. As would be expected, the Canals, Railways, and Tunnels took the top spots with massive numbers of human casualties. What's most alarming to me, however, is the World Trade Towers in New York City that were completed in 1973; sixty people lost their lives constructing the two towers, which seems unbelievable that this could happen in America only 40 years ago.
Safer America, in conjunction with the DAM firm, a California Law Firm, also put together a great website with a timeline that takes you through each of the construction projects. The data shows that construction has become safer in recent years, and that makes what is happening in Qatar for the World Cup (soccer tournament) so upsetting. Construction in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup started in 2012, and if the current death rate for the 9 construction projects continues as it is trending, about 4,000 people are expected to lose their lives. A sobering statistic, for sure. As of today, 1,200 workers have already lost their lives to heat exhaustion, long hours, and poor living conditions on top of "slavery-like" conditions. The Qatar World Cup has already been riddled with controversy and it looks as though it will continue.
The interactive timeline is definitely worth a look and can be found by clicking the link directly below called, "The Human Cost of Construction."
The Human Cost of Construction | DAM Firm
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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.
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Last week, we shared some newly updated Trenching and Excavation safety information from OSHA, which was part of their priority goals for 2018. Those updates included a public service announcement and updated online resources. The administration has just announced the update of their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on trenching and excavation safety, which features a period of education and prevention outreach.
Earlier this year, it was announced that reducing injuries and deaths caused by trenching and excavation collapses would be a priority goal for OSHA in 2018. The administration planned to achieve this through increased inspection rates, public service announcements (PSA), updating online resources, and creating a better public-private partnership. Recently, OSHA made good on their promise to issue PSAs and update their online resources.
In a time where many industry groups are strongly fighting against new regulations of any kind, more than 130 organizations have co-signed a petition for OSHA to establish a national standard for heat protection across many industries.
As other organizations, like the NTSB, are busy analyzing the root cause of the pedestrian bridge collapse that killed 6 people and injured 8 others in Florida in March, OSHA has finished their investigation and issued safety violations to 5 different contractors.
OSHA had to fight hard to finally get its relatively new crystalline silica dust exposure regulations passed, and, once it did, the agency wasted no time enforcing the law. In the regulations first 6 months, OSHA issued 116 violations, but the highest penalty at that point was $9,239. More recently, the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Division (VOSH) has possibly issued a record citation to a highway contractor, a whopping $304,130 penalty.