The Top States to Work in Construction: #19 Louisiana

Louisiana, home of jazz music, gumbo, and next door neighbor to #20 Texas, is the first one on our list to reach the teens in the rankings. America’s most swamp heavy state benefits from a low cost of living, 5.4% below the national average, according to MERIC.

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How the Milwaukee Buck’s New Arena Became the “World’s First Bird Friendly Arena”

You may have been sitting in your house or office one day and noticed the distinct sound of a bird hitting the window. It’s pretty common, as it’s estimated that as many as 988 million birds die in the US each year by colliding into glass.  The new arena that will house the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks has incorporated some design elements that will reduce the amount of birds killed by the massive structure, allowing it to be dubbed the “World’s Most Bird Friendly Sports Arena.”

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Construction Industry Groups Unite to Reduce Suicide Rate Among Construction Workers

The construction industry ranks first in total suicides and second in suicide rate compared to all other industries in the United States, according to a 2016 study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  This sad fact led more than 75 industry groups to form an alliance to combat the epidemic in 2016. Some of the members recently met in in Washington DC to help construction companies to better address mental health issues among their workers.

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The Top States to Work in Construction: #20 Texas

Texas is the second largest state in the entire country by land area, trailing only Alaska. It’s significant land mass and relatively low population density help the state have a very low cost of living, according to MERIC, at 9.4% below average. That allowed Texas to drop over 12 spots in our ranking.

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OSHA Publishes Report on Cause of 3 Tower Crane Collapses During 2017’s Hurricane Irma

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.

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OSHA is Considering a Change to The Silica Dust Standard

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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The Top States to Work in Construction: #21 Connecticut

Connecticut is a relatively small state with a very high population density, ranking 48th in total area and 4th in density. The state also has a very high cost of living, at 16.5% above the national average, according to MERIC.

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OSHA Clarifies Position on Post-Incident Drug Testing and Workplace Safety Incentive Programs

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A 2016 OSHA final rule that requires construction companies to submit electronic injury and illness data on a yearly basis has been fraught with controversy since its release. Over the summer, OSHA proposed rollbacks on additional requirements that large companies with 250 or more employees had to follow after industry pushback.  Most recently, the administration has clarified their position on post-incident drug testing and workplace incentive programs, which many organizations believed was unclear under the final rule.

In the original final rule, found in 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35, OSHA deemed that certain post-incident drug testing and workplace safety incentive programs could end up being unlawfully retaliatory against their employees.  The belief was that, if done the incorrect way, those policies could end up discouraging incidents from being reported due to an employee’s fear of punishment.

Industry groups, including ABC, have long fought against that line of thinking, explaining that, without proper clarification from OSHA, the rule could make jobsites much less safe.  On October 11, OSHA issued an official memorandum which explains that the Department does not prohibit workplace safety incentive programs or post-incident drug testing. 

Per the memorandum, “The Department believes that many employers who implement safety incentive programs and/or conduct post-incident drug testing do so to promote workplace safety and health. In addition, evidence that the employer consistently enforces legitimate work rules (whether or not an injury or illness is reported) would demonstrate that the employer is serious about creating a culture of safety, not just the appearance of reducing rates. Action taken under a safety incentive program or post-incident drug testing policy would only violate 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) if the employer took the action to penalize an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness rather than for the legitimate purpose of promoting workplace safety and health.”

With regards to safety based incentive programs, OSHA states that incentive program rewards for reporting hazards and near misses is always permissible.  For incident rate based incentive programs which award a prize or bonus at the end of the time frame, the employer has to create an environment that does not discourage employees from reporting incidents. The Department offered suggestions for counterbalancing any negative effects a rate based incentive could cause:

  • an incentive program that rewards employees for identifying unsafe conditions in the workplace;

  • a training program for all employees to reinforce reporting rights and responsibilities and emphasizes the employer’s non-retaliation policy;

  • a mechanism for accurately evaluating employees’ willingness to report injuries and illnesses.

OSHA also mentions that most instances of drug testing are permissible under 1904.35(b)(1)(iv), including:

  • Random drug testing.

  • Drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury or illness.

  • Drug testing under a state workers’ compensation law.

  • Drug testing under other federal law, such as a U.S. Department of Transportation rule.

  • Drug testing to evaluate the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed employees.  If the employer chooses to use drug testing to investigate the incident, the employer should test all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the incident, not just employees who reported injuries.

Full story: Clarification of OSHA’s Position on Workplace Safety Incentive Programs and Post-Incident Drug Testing Under 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) | US DOL

The Top States to Work in Construction: #22 Kentucky

Kentucky, home of horse racing and bourbon distilleries, lands at number 22 on our countdown. The state’s relatively low cost of living, at around 6.7% below national average according to MERIC, helped it drop around 11 spots after adjustment.

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The Top States to Work in Construction: #23 Arizona

Arizona’s cost of living is 3.5% below the national average, according to MERIC, which helped them jump about 7 spots in the rankings after adjustment. There are two professions ranked in the top 10, including security and fire systems installers at #2 and solar panel installers at #5. The lowest ranked professions in the state are insulation workers at #40 and crane operators at #38.

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