DOL, AGC Renew Industry Partnership

FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2022


To reduce the dangers faced by construction workers, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Missouri’s Associated General Contractors recently renewed a five-year partnership.

According to the DOL, the partnership agreement—which has been ongoing for 25 years—works to train and protect the state’s construction industry workers.

“Our partnership with the Associated General Contractors of Missouri helps prevent worker injuries and fatalities by putting comprehensive safety and health management systems in place for contractors and subcontractors on area construction sites,” said OSHA Area Director Bill McDonald in St. Louis. “The 25-year partnership between OSHA and the AGCMO continues to provide contractors and workers with training and resources to improve workplace safety in this high-hazard industry.”

More specifically, the five-year pact aims to continue to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities caused by the construction industry’s top four hazards: falls, struck-by, caught-in/between and electrocutions. As part of the efforts, the two organizations plan to address falls from elevation, in addition to trench and excavation collapses.

The partnership also requires OSHA and AGCMO to work together to ensure that workers are trained on preventing various other jobsite hazards, such as lacerations and amputations, and inadequate machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures.

ACGMO members are also encouraged by the organizations to participate in annual events including the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, the Trench Safety Stand-Down, and events during Construction Suicide Prevention Week.

In that same thread, the organizations intend to increase the use of AGCMO’s mental health resources and website dedicated to Suicide Prevention in the Construction Industry. Partnership members will continue educating employees and employers about workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Construction Industry Makes Dangerous Jobs List

Back in 2020, business insurance analysis firm AdivsorSmith released a list of the 25 most dangerous jobs in the U.S., reporting that 12 of the positions were in the construction industry.

The study examined 263 professions with employment of at least 50,000 workers nationwide and used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which conducts a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that calculate workplace fatalities by occupation every year.

The firm noted at the time that on-the-job deaths had been rising in recent years, from 4,821 in 2014 to 5,250 deaths in 2018, an increase of 9% over the five-year period. However, the rate of deaths adjusted for employment has only risen approximately 2.2% over the same period, as a previously improving economy led to additional employment. In 2018, the average fatality rate among all jobs was 3.4 per 100,000 workers.

The study also found that some jobs in the list are significantly more dangerous than others—the job in the top spot, logging, is 33 times more dangerous than the average job, for example.

Additionally, the study found that many of the workers in the most dangerous jobs earn salaries that are below the May 2019 annual mean wage of $53,490, and companies that hire workers with dangerous jobs typically have workers’ compensation insurance premiums that are higher than average.

The top 25 list is ranked by the fatal injury rate per 100,000 workers (not just the total number of deaths in a year). The list includes:

  • Logging worker, 111s;
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers, 53;
  • Derrick and oil field workers, 46;
  • Roofers, 41;
  • Garbage collectors, 34;
  • Ironworker, 29;
  • Delivery drivers, 27;
  • Farmers, 26;
  • Firefighting supervisors, 20;
  • Power linemen, 20;
  • Agricultural workers, 20;
  • Crossing guards, 19;
  • Crane operators, 19;
  • Construction helpers, 18;
  • Landscaping supervisors, 18;
  • Highway maintenance worker, 18;
  • Cement masons, 17;
  • Small engine mechanics, 15;
  • Supervisors of mechanics, 15;
  • Heavy vehicle mechanics, 14;
  • Grounds maintenance workers, 14;
  • Police officers, 14;
  • Maintenance workers, 14;
  • Construction workers, 13; and
  • Mining machine operators, 11.

Most common fatal accidents included transportation incidents; falls, slips and trips; violence and other injuries by persons or animals; contact with objects and equipment; and exposure to harmful substances or environments.

Other Industry Safety Efforts

In April, just weeks after the 2021 injury and illness reports by specific employers were due, OSHA published a new proposed rule aimed at improving the process. Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses was published on March 30.

According to OSHA, if adopted, the new rule would require:

  • Establishments with 20 or more employees, in certain high-hazard industries, to continue to electronically submit Form 300A Annual Summary information once a year to OSHA; and
  • Establishments with 100 or more employees in the highest-hazard industries to submit Form 300 Log and Form 301 Incident Report information once a year to OSHA. These establishments would continue to be required to electronically submit information from their Form 300A Annual Summary.

Additionally, establishments with 250 or more employees, not in designated high-hazard industries, would no longer be required to electronically submit recordkeeping information to OSHA.

Through electronic submission of establishment-specific and case-specific information outlined in Forms 300 and 301, OSHA will be better equipped to utilize its resources more effectively, according to the Agency.

The changes would also help OSHA to identify workplaces where workers are at greatest risk from specific hazards and to target its compliance assistance and enforcement efforts accordingly, which would ultimately improve research on occupational safety and health.

That same month, OSHA announced the launch of a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries.

The new enforcement program, reported to be a first of its kind, will ensure that OSHA conducts heat-related workplace inspections in an effort to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

In June, California followed with legislation outlining its own new set of heat protections for employees working in “ultrahigh” heat and wildfire smoke outdoors.

If passed, Assembly Bill 2243 would require California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to consider revisiting the heat illness standard for workers when outdoor temperatures exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Currently, the California Department of Industrial Relations lays out specific workers’ rights regarding outdoor work and heat illness prevention in temperatures exceeding 95 F.

While the plan follows Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Regulation, the new bill is seeking revisions to include an ultrahigh heat standard for employees in outdoor places of employment for heat more than 105 F, as prescribed, and require employers to distribute copies of the Heat Illness Prevention Plan to employees when they are first hired and when temperatures first exceed 80 F, or on an annual basis.

Other measurement considerations would include having employers ensure that workers get paid rest breaks every hour, have more access to cool water and that they pay closer attention to workers for symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

The legislation would also require that the standards board consider revising the current wildfire smoke standard to lower the existing air quality index threshold before “respiratory protective equipment becomes mandatory.”

And earlier this month, the New York state legislature passed a new construction bill that seeks to heavily increase fines for criminal charges associated with jobsite deaths. Named after Carlos Moncayo, a nonunion, undocumented worker who died in 2015 because of a trench collapse, Carlos’ Law aims to allow courts to decide restitution in criminal cases involving construction deaths.

Since the death of Moncayo, more than 70 construction workers have died on the job. The construction industry, OSHA reports, has the highest number and rate of fatal work injuries compared to any other industry.

Sponsored by James Sanders Jr., Senate Bill S621B aims to reduce these occurrences while also holding employers or supervisors accountable for deaths in construction.

As outlined in the legislation, if passed, Carlos’ Law would raise the minimum fine of $10,000 to $300,000 for misdemeanors and $500,000 for felonies. The bill is currently awaiting New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature. Hochul reportedly has until the end of the year to pass the legislation.

   

Tagged categories: Associations; Construction; Department of Labor; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; Partnerships; Program/Project Management; Safety; Worker training; Workers

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