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.
Traditional safety training for construction workers includes OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour courses, toolbox talks, and safety inspections. Those training techniques are all important and necessary, but construction workers are an extremely hands-on group of individuals and putting them in real life situations can be much more beneficial to them instead of classroom training.
Ladders are one of the most widely used and necessary pieces of equipment on a construction jobsite. They’re also one of the most misused and abused pieces of equipment on a jobsite. In addition to being one of the most frequently cited OSHA violations each year, it also accounts for too many of the industry’s yearly fatalities and countless injuries.
Falls continue to be the number one leading cause of death on construction sites across the country, accounting for around 40% each year. Even if you can convince your construction crew to wear personal fall arrest systems each time they’re required, proper training is required to select the correct type of fall protection and the anchor points, as well as performing proper inspections of the equipment. An app called Harness Hero is trying to help solve the latter problem.
Even though OSHA recently eliminated the need for employers to electronically submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301, citing privacy concerns, companies are still responsible for submitting OSHA Form 300A – and the deadline is fast approaching.
Multi-employer worksites are extremely common in the construction industry, but they can still make work extremely complicated. One of those complications results when a subcontractor receives a governmental violation, such as an OSHA violation. As a controlling employer on the site, can a general contractor be held responsible for safety hazards of a subcontractor? One court says yes.
After an abundance of delays on rule that would require crane operators to be formally qualified to operate, OSHA finally landed on an effective date of February 7, 2019. After receiving feedback from industry partners, OSHA has decided to delay enforcement for 60 days for contractors who make a “good faith effort” to comply.
As has been expected for a few months now, OSHA has officially removed the requirement for large companies with 250 or more employees to submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301. The administration cited privacy concerns as the reason for the change.
Be careful - owners and contractors are now being held criminally liable for their carelessness and disregard of safety protocols.
Since the 2016 Federal budget was passed, OSHA has increased their maximum citation penalty amount to adjust for inflation on a yearly basis. The 2019 increase has recently been announced.