Falls are the number one cause of death among construction workers. Most of them are preventable. Every year, The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are joining forces to launch a national construction fall prevention campaign. They are now getting ready for the 2017 Safety Stand-Down. If you want to learn more about this campaign and hear about the results of the previous fall prevention campaigns you are welcome to join a free webinar. During this webinar, leaders from the CPWR, NIOSH and OSHA will review the past campaigns and present their plans for 2017. The webinar will be held Wednesday March 1st at 2:00 pm. If you would like to register please click here.
20% of the workers who die at work are construction workers but they represent only 4% of the employed workforce in the US. Hard hats are among the workers that have the most risk of being injured or even dying on the job. Sadly, most of these accidents are preventable.
As technology develops, the construction industry has been relying more and more on Building Information Modeling (BIM) to develop its projects. BIM is used throughout the life cycle of a construction project to digitally monitor the design, the plan and the construction itself. BIM can also be used for safety management.
A recent short study published by the Center For Construction Research and Training shows how “near miss accidents” can be visualized in Building Information Modeling. The authors of the study are Dr Eric Marks and Xu Chen from the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama. Dr Eric Marks recently hosted a free 30 min CPWR Webinar on this subject. The webinar can be seen here.
Construction workers have a higher risk of accidents than many other workers in other industries. According to the most recent census of fatal occupational injuries, 611 workers died in construction accidents in the US in 2014. It is the highest number of construction worker deaths since 2009.
Most studies about construction workers safety present the management perspective. In a recently published study, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) focuses on workers perception.
As the construction industry is booming again, immigrant construction workers are facing increased risks of exploitation. In a recent article in the Globe, Beth Healy and Megane Woolhouse investigate the practices of greedy contractors looking for cheap labor.
Immigrants sometimes very young are being hired illegally by contractors. They are paid cash below the minimum wage. They have no insurance. If they are injured on the job, they are often pressured not to report their injury. 15 year old Luis Mayancela fell two stories from a roof. He broke his leg. His contractor didn’t even called an ambulance. A co-worker drove him to the Emergency Room. After the accident, his boss denied all responsibility.
Because they are illegal, injured construction workers often fear retaliation and are pressured not to report their injuries. In their investigation, Healy and Woolhouse denounce industry practices that routinely exploit immigrant workers. Because many of them do not speak English well and are unfamiliar with their rights they often don’t even have a written agreement with their employers.
Promoting safety culture not only reduces the risk of accidents at construction sites but also impacts other business aspects such as productivity and competitiveness. Large construction firms understand this concept and apply it in their day to day business while small construction firms are still lagging behind.
A recent survey by the Center for Construction Research and Training looks at the difference in safety culture and safety management between small and large companies.
Small firms with 1 to 9 employees represent a little more than 10% of the construction firms. Those with over 500 employees represent approximately 20% of them. Construction firms with 10 to 49 employees represent the biggest part, around 30% of construction firms. Small firms usually work on low-rise commercial and residential projects while larger ones work on high rise and industrial projects.
The traditional way of building slab form work entails many risks of accidents and injuries to construction workers. The formwork is built on site, usually out of timber and plywood and concrete is poured into it. Several risks of accidents and injuries are associated with this operation such as:
- Serious injury or even death caused by a fall off the unprotected sides of the work zone’s leading edge.
- Serious injury caused by falling objects such as tools or material to workers active below the area of the traditional formwork construction
Too many workers especially in the construction industry are still being injured or killed at the work place because their boss ignores safety rules. When such tragedy happens we call it an accident. However when a boss ignores safety rules and an employee is being injured or killed because of it, shouldn’t the boss be criminally prosecuted? When a construction worker dies in a trench collapse because the developer or the contractor ignored safety rules isn’t it a crime?
In a recent article in Fair Warning Rena Steinzor, a Law Professor at the University of Maryland and a Member Scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform and Katherine Tracy a Policy Analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform are advocating for the criminal prosecution of CEOs who are putting profit ahead of safety and treat employees injuries and deaths as a cost of doing business.
Read the complete article here.
Construction workers have a high risk of getting injured or even dying in an accident while at work. Construction accidents often happen when negligent contractors try to save time or money and put profit ahead of their own workers safety. A new study looking at safety practices among contractors shows that increased safety on construction sites indeed increases Return on Investment (ROI) and attracts and retains more talented hard hats. The recently released study “Building a Safety Culture SmartMarket Report” was produced by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and United Rental, a construction equipment rental company.
For the study, Dodge Data & Analytics analyzed 254 American contractors using 33 indicators of safety culture in the construction industry. They found that approximately one third of the contractors were promoting a high safety culture standard in their day to day business and were investing heavily in safety management practices. Another third were somewhat promoting safety culture in their company. The last third were contractors who didn’t have much interest about safety culture and didn’t invest much in it.
The study shows that contractors who invested the most in workers safety reported less injuries, improved their projects quality, increased their projects ROI, had a lower staff turnover and were able to attract staff more easily than contractors who didn’t invest in workers safety.
Personal injury attorneys representing construction workers that have been injured at work understand too well the economic consequences of such accidents. When a worker is injured he will not only have direct costs such as medical expenses but also indirect ones such as lost wages and fringe benefits as well as lost home productivity.
A recent study published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine provides an analysis of the economic consequences of workplace injuries in the United States. The authors of the study , Xiuwen Sue Dong DrPH1,*, Xuanwen Wang PhD1, Julie A. Largay MPH1 and Rosemary Sokas MD, MOH2 estimated that in 2007, the total of the direct and indirect costs of all reported work injuries in the US cost $250 billion, higher than the $219 million spent on cancer. Worker’s compensation covers an average 44.5% of the direct medical costs but this amount represents only 20.7% of the total costs. The difference is being shifted onto the workers and their families, insurance carriers and the government.
The study finds that following an injury, an injured worker’s family will suffer income loss because of the lost wages and his or her disability. The study also shows that Union workers are better protected in case of an accident and will suffer a moderate income loss compared to a non union worker who suffers the same work injury. Income disparity will persist in the long term.
Falls are the number one cause of fatal construction accidents. Every year in America, more than 10,000 hard hats suffer serious personal injury and more than 200 died because they fell while working on a construction site. In 2012 a coalition of government, labor and management representatives launched a yearly campaign to raise awareness about this issue. This year, the campaign which consists in a National Stand Down will take place from May 2nd to May 6th. On that day, OSHA is asking employers that hire construction workers to take the time to stand down and conduct a fall prevention workshop or other activity related to fall prevention with their employees. OSHA is providing interested employers with toolboxes to help them discuss specific fall prevention subjects such as ladder safety, scaffold safety or fall protection equipment.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) recently released a detailed report about the Safety Stand Downs conducted in 2014 and 2015. The reports shows that the campaign reached around 2 million workers over the last two years. Stand-downs were mostly organized by commercial construction companies but also by highway, governmental and residential companies. Most common activities conducted on stand-down last year included training, equipment inspection and audit as well as toolbox talks. The year before meetings and handing out materials to employees as well as training were the most common activities.
Even though the participation was lower last year, the organizers are hopping to see greater participation this year and to reach out to more construction workers. On February 16th the CPWR will organize a webinar related to this campaign . Leaders from CPWR, NIOSH and OSHA will be discussing last year’s Stand-Down and highlighting the plans for 2016. People interested in attending this webinar can register here.