The article below was written by Miami Construction Lawyer Alex Barthet and appeared first on TheLienZone. It was re-posted with permission. For more information about Alex and his firm, please visit www.TheLienZone.com and www.Barthet.com.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency – an extraordinary development as this was only the 4th time in WHO’s entire history that it issued such a declaration. Anticipated to exceed 4 million cases this year, the virus has spread rapidly, infecting people in more than 20 countries.
Zika, as we have all heard, is a mosquito borne virus which can make people ill but more critically may cause a birth defect resulting in serious developmental problems in newborns and possible temporary paralysis in adults. This is a small bug with a big bite. Therefore, both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have now issued guidelines related to the Zika virus.
With so many construction jobs involving outside work, it is important for contractors to initiate a number of actions to alert and protect their workers:
- Advise: Inform employees of the dangers they face and train them on how they might protect themselves.
- Protect: Encourage workers to wear appropriate clothing that covers their arms, legs and other exposed areas and provide insect repellents.
- Avoid: Get rid of all sources of standing water at the jobsite and reduce mosquito breeding areas.
While southern states are expected to be hardest hit by the Zika virus, contractors everywhere need to raise their level of concern and treat this as they do other serious workplace hazards. Over 800 people in the U.S. have already contracted the virus, and with summer already upon us, this number is only expected to rise.
The lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedure has been one of the critical elements of electrical safety training on construction sites for a decade. Generally, it’s pretty simple: if you need to work on an energized circuit or piece of equipment, shut down the breaker, put a lock on it so no one can turn it back on, and place a tag on it with your information. OSHA is considering updating the standard now and is currently requesting information from interested parties.
As the United States just recently suffered another tragic and deadly construction incident involving civilians after a crane collapsed in Seattle over the weekend, we’re reminded that the bridge collapse on FIU’s campus in Miami in early 2018 still has many unanswered questions.
For the past 3 years, Seattle, Washington has had the most construction cranes out of any United States city. But, as we know, from various videos and news stories, a crane collapse can have absolutely devastating consequences. On Saturday, a crane collapsed in downtown Seattle onto an open road below, killing two construction workers, 2 pedestrians, and injuring several others in the process.
All trench collapse deaths are preventable. As soon as everyone on a job site starts believing that we might actually make some progress. In just the past 10 days, there have been 4 trench collapse deaths across 3 separate incidents, further highlighting how far we still need to go.
Falls on the jobsite is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction. Keeping up with housekeeping on your site is a great way to reduce risks of falls, but other protections, like rebar caps should be installed when rebar is exposed. A young construction worker recently found out the hard way what happens when rebar is left exposed.
On April 3, a congressional appropriations hearing was held to discuss the U.S. Department of Labor’s Federal funding for fiscal year 2020. During the hearing, the secretary of Labor, R. Alexander Acosta, told the committee how OSHA plans to spend their budget and how the agency fared in the previous year.
Safety training in the construction industry is necessary to build worker awareness – not to mention that it’s legally required – but it can be extremely time consuming and expensive to have completed. There are many companies out there looking to make money off of keeping workers safe, which is why it’s great when a company offers training free of charge, like Procore’s Safety Qualified program.
Cranes collapsing on-site are serious business, especially since many of them resulted in the loss of life. A recent crane collapse on a construction site in Alpharetta, GA was caught on camera after it caught fire, but luckily no one was injured.