Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

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A recent report found that construction workers are exposed to high temperatures and heat on the job that has caused illnesses and even deaths that are under-reported.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will develop “a federal standard” to prevent health issues stemming from extreme heat on construction sites, according to a report by Construction Dive. In a press release, the agency announced it would initiate a rulemaking process that will include a comment period from various stakeholders as it works to establish new standards. Continue reading

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NYC’s Department of Buildings inspected over 7,000 construction sites since June and has issued 3,600 violations and 1,499 stop work orders due to a large number of construction related deaths.

A New York City Department of Buildings safety sweep this month resulted in 3,600 violations and 1,499 stop work orders issued to construction contractors. According to a report by Construction Dive, the sweeps were launched because of a spate of construction site fatalities in the city, with seven workers dying in the first five months of 2021—two from falls, as the report notes. Continue reading

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New York City’s Department of Buildings released its review of the 12 construction-related fatalities in 2019.

The New York City Department of Buildings recently released its Construction Safety Report for 2019-2020. The document notes that although construction incidents that involved injuries and fatalities decreased by 24% in 2019—”the first drop in nearly a decade”—there were nonetheless twelve deaths in construction-related incidents that year. “Even one death caused by unsafe work practices on a construction site is unacceptable,” the report states, “and the Department is committed to further driving down this number.” The Department carefully reviews every construction-related incident in New York City in order to hold responsible parties accountable and prevent future fatalities and injuries. Below are brief descriptions of the 12 tragic incidents in 2019, as described by the Department of Buildings.

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New York City’s Department of Buildings has executed “zero-tolerance sweeps” of the city’s construction sites.

New York City building inspectors are implementing “zero-tolerance sweeps”  in the city’s job sites, according to a recent report by Construction Dive. The sweeps are in response to “three worker deaths in recent weeks, two of which were the result of falls,” according to the report, and have resulted in 322 sites shut down due to hazardous conditions. Continue reading

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Only correction facility employees had higher Covid-19 positivity rates than construction workers, according to the study.

A new analysis by Construction Dive details research showing “that construction workers had the highest positivity rates for asymptomatic cases of any occupation, including healthcare staff, first responders, correctional personnel, elderly care workers, grocery store workers and food service employees.”

The research was completed by Curative, a “testing firm”, in Los Angeles from August to October, according to the report, and consisted of giving people who tested positive for Covid-19 a questionnaire that inquired about their profession. It ultimately showed that construction workers “had a positivity rate of 5.7% for individuals who were asymptomatic, and 10.1% for those with symptoms, according to the study.” Continue reading

The labor union AFL-CIO recently released its 29th annual “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” report. Among other things, the study examines state and national trends in workplace deaths, injuries, and illnesses; safety inspections; penalties and other sanctions issued against workplaces under the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and staffing issues. It also includes information about the Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on workplaces. Continue reading

A new analysis by Construction Dive asks whether the construction industry has fought the spread of Covid-19 as well as conventional wisdom would suggest.

As the article notes, a potpourri of academic research, public health data, and media reports indicate that the industry has not fared so well. There have been concerning outbreaks across the country, with construction workplaces having the third highest number of outbreaks in Washington and Michigan, and the second highest number of clusters in Nashville, Tennessee. Meanwhile academic research indicates that Texas construction workers are five times likelier to be hospitalized as a result of Covid-19 than workers in other sectors, and a CDC study found that construction sites had the second highest number of cases in Utah.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released a list of its most common Covid-19 citations in construction and other industries, in order “to help employers understand which OSHA standards have been cited most frequently during COVID-19 related inspections.” The document was based on data OSHA maintains regarding its citations and inspections, which it states it initiated after complaints, referrals, or fatalities in various industries, including: “hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long term care settings, and meat/poultry processing facilities.”

According to OSHA’s data, the most common citations dealt with respiratory protection. Workplaces were cited for failing to provide a medical evaluation before a worker used or was fit-tested for a respirator; omitting information in workers’ medical evaluations; failing to perform appropriate fit tests; failing to ensure fit tests whenever a different respirator face piece was use; and failing to administer a fit test using a standard protocol.

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Last week Construction Dive, a publication focused on the construction industry, rounded up a number of construction sites across the country that have experienced Covid-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began. As Construction Dive notes, there is no national body tracking outbreaks by industry, but local news sources have kept an eye on their communities, including construction workplaces.

In April, according to Construction Dive, there were at least two Covid-19 clusters centered in a construction site at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. The clusters affected seven workers, and the construction site “was shut down for disinfecting after each outbreak.” Continue reading

A new study published online in JAMA Network Open finds that construction workers may be at high risk of Covid-19 infection. Conducted by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the Santa Fe Institute, the study asked whether construction work is associated with increased community transmission of Covid-19 as well as disproportionate fatalities in US construction workers. It examined hospitalization data in central Texas, finding that “construction workers had a nearly 5-fold increased risk of hospitalization in central Texas compared with other occupational categories.” Its authors conclude that this does not mean construction work must be halted, but that workplaces should take seriously the necessary safety measures and paid sick leave policies to protect vulnerable essential workers.

As the study notes in its introduction, early in the pandemic policymakers across the US differed in their views on the essentiality of construction work: “Boston, New York, and San Francisco severely restricted allowable projects. Other cities and states deemed commercial and home construction essential. Most of the nation’s 7.3 million construction workers remained employed throughout April and May of 2020, representing 4.5% of the labor workforce, ranging from 1.8% in the District of Columbia to 10.5% in Wyoming.” The authors note that because construction workers operate in close physical proximity to each other, construction sites have a higher than average risk of Covid-19 transmission. And because “Latinx populations are overly represented among construction and essential industries,” they have higher rates of exposure too, which are “compounded by prevalent high-risk comorbidities and lack of access to health care.” According to the authors, the combination of these risks is probably partly responsible for the higher rates of COVID-19 infection and fatality in Latinx communities.

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