Road construction work is dangerous. It changes driving patterns, which is especially hazardous if drivers are impaired or distracted. There have been several teams of researchers and manufacturers that are attempting to make road construction safer for contractors, like this autonomous TMA truck from Royal Truck & Equipment and this smart safety vest designed by engineers at Virginia Tech, which gives workers a few seconds of warning is an object is approaching too quickly.
Pueblo, Colorado is testing out a new technology that could also make drivers’ and workers’ lives safer, while also making things easier. Steel construction barriers are making waves in Pueblo, according to local news channel KOAA, as they have demonstrated to be a safer alternative to concrete barriers, currently seen throughout the United States. When a vehicle strikes concrete, the car and the concrete are both destroyed, sending metal and concrete through the air and a wrecked car bouncing on the road asking for other cars to hit it. With these steel barriers, cars will bounce off of the barriers with little damage to the vehicle or the barrier, as you can see in the video below.
KOAA interviewed John Volk with Dynamic Deflections, a distributor of steel barriers in Colorado. Volk said that not only will the steel barriers cause less damage, they are also much easier to ship and are easier to install. One truckload of steel barriers, he says, is equal to the amount of concrete barriers that would require six truckloads. Concrete barriers are also extremely cumbersome to move, requiring the use of heavy construction machinery. The steel barriers are equipped with wheels, which can be ratcheted down and easily moved by only one person.
The major drawback to the steel construction barriers is cost, which is estimated at around 4 times the cost of concrete. Volk believes that federal regulations will soon change to require steel barriers, but there’s currently no timeline for when or if that will happen.
Take a look at the video below, by HighwayCareInt, which shows a comparison between the BarrierGuard 800 steel barrier and a traditional concrete barrier:
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.