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.
Year over year, fatal occupational injuries in 2015 rose by more than 4% in the construction industry versus 2014, according to the BLS. Fatalities increased to a total of 937, from 899 the previous year. Rates also climbed to 10.1 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, from 9.8. The 937 deaths were the highest for the construction industry since 2008, when there were 975 reported fatalities.
Across all industries, an annual total of 4,836 workplace deaths in 2015 was the highest since 2008. Transportation, such as roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles made up the largest portion of all fatalities, with 1,264, roughly 25% of all fatalities. This highlights the importance of not only keeping workers safe while driving for their job, but also keeping workers safe from other motorists. Slips, trips, and falls accounted for the second highest cause of death, totaling 800 in 2015.
The negative trend has certainly piqued the interest of several government entities, including OSHA. OSHA has not only increased their fines for the first time since 1990, they’ve introduced a new rule that would require companies to make their injury records public. OSHA also recently released data that showed construction trench related deaths have doubled in 2016, as compared to 2015, which is not a good sign for the BLS’ 2016 fatality report.
[guest post] June is National Safety Month, and this week, the focus is on falls. As anyone who works in construction knows, this industry has some of the highest workplace accident and injury rates in the United States. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) ranks falls as one of their Fatal Four most deadly type of construction accidents.
Construction crews were preparing to replace window glazing on the 47-story tall Wellhouse na Leninskom tower in Moscow, Russia, when a cable snapped just as the window was about to reach the top of the structure
On March 15, 2018, a devastating pedestrian bridge that was under construction collapsed onto an open roadway below, killing 1 bridge worker and five motorists, as well as injuring 8 others. As was expected, investigations have been underway since the accident, which are expected to take at least several more months to complete
The Trump administration recently released its Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions and, contained within it, is a series of regulations that federal agencies plan to either amend or eliminate.
Last November, OSHA issued a final rule that would finally allow them to enforce language, which has been in their standards since 2010, requiring construction crane operators to be formally qualified to operate the equipment. The first day of enforcement for that rule had been set for November 10, 2018, but the agency has recently proposed a new rule that would pull back some of the initial requirements.
Finding enough labor to complete jobs has been a problem for many companies in the construction industry over the past few years. Amid a construction “boom” in many areas, general and subcontractors are accepting jobs without enough people to work them, so some have turned to hiring “subs of subs” to supplement their work, a report published by The Tennessean says.
In March, OSHA announced that they would be enforcing their previously delayed beryllium exposure limit for the construction industry on May 11, 2018. The agency has recently confirmed that enforcement date in a memorandum on May 9, 2018.
OSHA newer and more stringent regulations regarding employee’s exposure to respirable crystalline silica officially went into effect on September 23, 2017. The new reduced the permissible exposure limit of the substance, which is found mostly in products containing sand (like concrete, mortar, and brick), from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air down to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8 hour shift.
For the third time in a year, construction workers have had to be rescued while dangling mid-air by fire rescue teams in Southern Florida. Last year, there were two incidents in Sarasota, Florida that involved failed suspended scaffolding in as many months. Just last week, another incident in Palmetto Bay required the Fire Department to intervene.