News & Events

June 2017 Construction News Brief

Are Changes in Store at OSHA?

The change of administrations in Washington, D.C., has triggered many questions over the future direction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The worker safety agency has always focused closely on the construction industry, which accounted for 21.4 percent of all fatal workplace injuries in private industry in 2015. That’s a higher number of workplace fatalities than any other sector of the economy.

Regulatory Relief?
With regulatory relief one of the prominent pillars of the Trump presidential campaign, many are looking to the new administration to roll back some recent OSHA rulemaking they regard as regulatory overreach. The challengers achieved an early victory in April when the president signed a congressional resolution to repeal OSHA’s so-called “Volks” rule.

 June 2017 Construction News BriefThe Volks rule extended OSHA’s ability to enforce employers’ injury recordkeeping requirements from six months to five-and-a-half years. Opponents argued the five-year extension would do nothing to improve workplace safety, but would merely lead to additional red tape and litigation. After both the House and Senate approved a resolution nullifying the rule, President Trump’s signature made it final.

Just a few days later, OSHA delayed enforcement of another controversial initiative: the Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. OSHA estimates 2.3 million workers are exposed each year to crystalline silica dust, which is generated when bricks, mortar, concrete or stone are cut or ground. The new OSHA standard would establish a much lower permissible exposure limit for construction workers – eight times lower than the existing standard.
The new standard was scheduled to go into effect June 23, 2017, but on April 6 OSHA announced it was delaying enforcement until September 23. [Read More]

OSHA’s Top 10 Violations and “Fatal Four” Hazards

Focus on Safety
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 4,379 fatal workplace injuries were recorded in private U.S. industry in 2015. One out of five deaths — or 937 of them — occurred in the construction industry.

This represents a slight increase over the previous year and was the highest total since 2008. As is generally the case, the construction industry accounted for a greater share of workplace fatalities than any other sector.

What types of accidents led to the most fatalities? Among all industries, transportation incidents, particularly roadway accidents, are by far the leading cause of worker fatalities every year. But when we exclude vehicle accidents and focus on accidents that occur directly on construction sites, falls, slips and trips are always the leading cause of fatalities.

Among all construction trades, roofers and structural iron and steel workers reported the highest fatal work injury rates. Among roofers, there were 39.7 fatal injuries for every 100,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). For iron and steel workers, the rate was 29.8 fatalities per 100,000 FTEs.

The Big Picture
Looking beyond fatalities to consider all types of injuries and hazards among all industries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually publishes a list of its top 10 most cited workplace safety violations. For the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016, the top 10 most frequently violated OSHA standards were: [Read More]