CPWR Releases Comprehensive Construction Statistics

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) released a new edition of its comprehensive The Construction Chart Book – The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers. 

If you are seeking a specific construction industry statistic, chances are you can find it in the book. It features 100-plus pages of charts, graphs and explanations of dozens of industry topics, including economics, demographics, and safety.


Silica can be found in numerous common construction site materials, like soil, sand, concrete, masonry, rock and granite. As we have discussed extensively on our blog, exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer or kidney disease. Construction workers make up about 2 million of the 2.3 million total workers that are exposed to silica hazards.

OSHA’s recently updated silica standard sets the permissible exposure limit (PEL) at 50 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight-hour day. According to CPWR, about 15 percent of construction workers are exposed at or above the PEL.

Source: CPWR

Injury and Fatality Rates

Among selected industrial nations, the United States had the third highest rate of construction fatalities with 9.7 per 100,000 full-time workers. Only Belgium (10.5) and Switzerland (24.6) had higher fatality rates in 2013. The U.S. non-fatal injury rate was much better compared to other countries. At 1.5 per 100 workers, it was the third best rate. The CPWR though does caution drawing too strong of a conclusion due to differences in reporting standards among different countries.

Returning to just the U.S.,  985 construction workers were killed on the job in 2015, which was 20 percent of the total workplace fatalities in the country. Construction’s fatality rate has also risen each year since 2011, with 9.9 deaths per 100,000 full time workers in 2015. This was rate was nearly three times higher than the average of all industries.

Injury Causes

Mirroring the Top 10 Cited OSHA Violations, falls to the same or lower level caused the most fatalities in the construction industry and was the second leading cause of nonfatal injuries. Almost 22% of these fatal falls occur at a height of more than 30 feet, with roofs and ladders as the most common sources of all fatal falls.

Contact with objects caused the most nonfatal injuries.

Want to help you and your employees avoid becoming a statistic? Register for our OSHA 30 Hour Construction course from March 26-29, 2018. Contact SCT Sales Representative Terri Cantrell at TCantrell@sct.us.com or 440-449-6000, or fill out the contact form below!



Beryllium Enforcement Starting in May

OSHA’s updated beryllium standard has been a long time in the making, but a beryllium enforcement date has finally been set.

The administration announced that enforcement of the final rule will begin on May 11, 2018. The enforcement date had previously been scheduled for March 12, 2018. The extended timeframe ensures that stakeholders are aware of their obligations and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors, according to an OSHA press release.

Back in January 2017, OSHA announced new comprehensive health standards addressing beryllium exposure in all industries. After seeking feedback from stakeholders, technical updates to the January 2017 General Industry Standard are being considered by the agency.

These updates, according to the press release, “clarify and simplify compliance with requirements.”

In addition to the general industry beryllium enforcement beginning on May 11, 2018, OSHA will also begin enforcement for the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries.

According to OSHA, beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used in many industries, including aerospace, medical, electronics, defense, and telecommunications. But beryllium is highly toxic, and workers who inhale it are at a higher risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer.

The new beryllium rule, which has standards for construction, general industry, and shipyards, will decrease the permissible exposure limit of beryllium to an average of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air over 8 hours. A new short-term exposure limit was established at 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a 15-minute sampling period.

Until the new beryllium enforcement date, should employers fail to meet the new PEL or STEL, “OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance,” according to the release.

Respiratory health is a major area of concern for OSHA. In addition to the beryllium enforcement starting in May 2018, awareness of and enforcement for OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standards have dominated OSHA news since 2016. Check out our video below about the importance of respiratory health and silica awareness in the workplace.

Need help creating a respiratory health program at your workplace? Contact the experts at SCT by filling out the contact form below. We can guide you through the process, from initial assessment, to program development, air monitoring and training — SCT is your one stop safety shop!



OSHA stakeholders present to Congressional subcommittee

On February 27, 2018, the congressional Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hosted a hearing entitled “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.”

In his opening statement, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said the purpose of the meeting was to focus on “how OSHA can work more cooperatively with job creators especially in the small businesses community, to expand its compliance assistance efforts and for employers to provide the safest and healthiest workplaces possible.”

The hearing featured testimony from four witnesses: Peter Gerstenberger, on behalf of the Tree Care Industry Association; J. Gary Hill, on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary for OSHA; and Eric Hobbs,  on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Gerstenberger told the committee that tree care industry has one of the 10 highest fatality rates in the U.S., with about 80 deaths annually. He also stated that while OSHA has worked with the association to improve worker safety, it hasn’t done enough and a specific safety standard is needed.

“From our perspective, federal OSHA could be most effective if it would adopt a rule specific to our industry. Here is why: a regulation will inform and empower every OSHA Certified Safety and Health Official to identify hazards and control measures unique to tree work and to intervene to prevent accidents,” Gerstenberger said.

Hill testified about the need for the expansion of small business compliance assistance because many small construction companies are confused by the existing standards.

“NAHB’s members want to ensure they are compliant with existing standards, but it is not always clear what the regulatory requirements are, especially when coupled with all of the other regulations that apply to the home building industry,” Hill said. “If OSHA’s goal is truly to ensure worker safety rather than the collection of fines, it must reorient away from its emphasis on enforcement and promulgation of new standards and focus more on compliance assistance to businesses subject to its regulations.”

Michaels, who led OSHA from 2009 to January 2017, said in his testimony that compliance programs are useful for employees who voluntarily want to protect their employees, but that clear standards and “strong, fair enforcement” are more effective in protecting workers.

Michaels also said the sentiment that safety regulations kill jobs is incorrect. “It is more accurate to call OSHA standards public health ‘protections’ because that’s exactly what they do: protect workers from preventable injuries, illnesses and death. When you hear someone talk about rolling back OSHA regulations, they’re really talking about endangering workers.”

In his testimony, Hobbs said OSHA needs to regain the trust of employers.

“For OSHA to lead the effort at improving workplace safety effectively, it must rebuild that trust. No single step or statement by the agency will do so. It will take a sustained, consistent effort,” Hobbs said. “Employers will welcome having a partner in the agency and being able to turn to it as a resource, rather than just to suffer under it as a disciplinarian.”

The submitted written testimony from each witness is available online at the committee’s website. A complete video recording of the hearing is also available on YouTube. 

ABCs of Safety: B is for Best Practices

“B is for Best Practices” is the second installment of our ABCs of Safety video series. We’re getting back to basics and delving deep in to the guiding principles of occupational safety and health.

The term “Best Practices” can vary between companies and industries, but there is a core group of OSHA-recognized safety elements that are deemed essential for successful workplace safety programs.

Check out our “B is for Best Practices” video below to discover those critical solutions.

6 Key Best Practices as recognized by OSHA

  1. Management leadership
  2. Worker participation
  3. Hazard ID and assessment
  4. Hazard prevention and control
  5. Education and training
  6. Program evaluation and improvement

Did you miss the first letter in our ABCs of Safety video series? Check it out below!

Do you want to review your best practices with one of SCT’s occupational safety and health experts? Tell us what you want to accomplish in our contact form below, and one of our safety team members will reach out to help get you the best solution!



Spike in trench-related deaths yields construction hazard alert

A public health research center in Kentucky has issued hazard alert in 2018 to raise awareness about an increase in trench-related fatalities first seen in 2016.

In its January 2018 Hazard Alert, the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program from the Kentucky Injury Prevention Research Center (KIPRC) put out the alert after evaluating three cases of fatal trench collapses within the state from 2015 to 2017.

Though complete data on national rates of trenching fatalities and injuries for fiscal year (FY) 2017 is currently unavailable, by May 2017 there had been 15 recorded fatalities, which is 65 percent of the total number of fatalities seen in FY 2016.

In FY 2017, which covers October 2016 through September 2017, federal OSHA cited 29 CFR 1926.651, or Specific Excavation Requirements, 673 times. Those citations yielded assessed penalties of $3,066,257.

We wrote about the climbing fatality rate in trenching in 2016 when the first reports of the elevated numbers were released. The safety rules and guidelines for trenching and excavation work include multiple preventative measures to protect against trench collapse, which leads the causes of trench-related fatalities and injuries.

One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, about the size of a mid-sized car.

Soil is heavy, and the life expectancy of a worker trapped beneath earth is mere minutes. Trench collapse with encasement robs the worker of air, and the victim asphyxiates.

Trenches between five and 20 feet in depth are required to have protective measures like benching, shoring, sloping and shielding. Beyond 20 feet deep, a registered professional engineer must design a protective system for the trench.

OSHA’s Construction eTool on Trenching and Excavation offers some great starter tips on evaluating your worksite and improving your work safety conditions. It is imperative, however, to make safety a priority and ensure you create a trenching and excavation safety program that meets all federal, state and local guidelines and that will protect workers.

Dennis Hobart, SCT’s director of construction services, has spent the past two decades working specifically with trenching and excavation construction projects. He assists project managers in designing safe trenches and training workers on how to maintain trench structures and work safely within trenches.

Our recently launched video series, The ABCs of Safety, takes viewers through the basics of important safety concepts. Do you work with trenching and excavation projects? Stick with our series and you may find an upcoming video especially relevant to you! Check out the Letter A video below.

Contact SCT today to talk trench-related safety by filling out the form below!



Potentially fatal occupational asthma is preventable

Occupational asthma accounted for an estimated 11-21% of the asthma-related deaths in 2015, according to data recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A review of collected data from the CDC found that between 1999-2016, there were 33,307 deaths from asthma in adults aged 15-64 years old. Included in this figure was “an estimated 3,664-6,994 (approximately 204-389 annually) that could be attributable to occupational exposures and were therefore potentially preventable.”

When broken out by industry, the asthma-related mortality was “significantly elected among males in food, beverage, and tobacco products manufacturing, other retail trade, and miscellaneous manufacturing, and among females in social assistance.”

What is Occupational Asthma?

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), “occupational asthma is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while ‘on the job.’”

Symptoms are often worse during the days or nights worked, and improve when affected workers have time off. Symptoms will re-emerge when the affected parties return to work.

Those with a family history may be more likely to develop occupational asthma, particularly to some substances such as flour, animals, and latex; however, those with no family history of asthma or allergies can still develop the disease if exposed to conditions that induce it over time.

Just like other occupational respiratory diseases, like asbestosis from asbestos exposure, smoking greatly increases a worker’s risk for developing occupational asthma.

Causes of Occupational Asthma

Like the CDC’s findings, the AAAAI points out that the rate of occupational asthma varies within industries, but there are some higher-risk categories.

Prolonged exposure to irritants such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide or ammonia, found in the petroleum or chemical industries, can be a cause of occupational asthma. Exposure to these substances in high concentrations may result in wheezing and other asthma symptoms immediately after exposure.

“Veterinarians, fishermen, and animal handlers in laboratories can develop allergic reactions to animal proteins. Healthcare workers can develop asthma from breathing in powdered proteins from latex gloves or from mixing powdered medications,” according to the AAAAI.

Occupational Asthma is Preventable

Respiratory protection is a crucial part of occupational safety and health. Any work that involves exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, irritants, or other respirable substances should have an abatement plan.

Engineering and administrative controls should be explored and implemented before thinking about personal protective equipment. PPE should always be the last part of a respiratory health plan. PPE is not acceptable as the sole means of protection for workers.

The safety experts at SCT can help evaluate facilities for exposure risk, review and update respiratory health written programs, and training workers on proper respiratory health abatement tactics and PPE usage.

For more on worker respiratory health with a focus on silica exposure, check out our video below. If you are in need of any PPE, be sure to visit SCT Supply, our online safety supply store. We offer free shipping on orders over $600!

Time to post the OSHA 300A Form

February 1 is right around the corner, which means OSHA is reminding employers to post a copy of their OSHA 300A Form in a common area where notices to employees are typically posted.

The OSHA 300A Form summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses during the previous year. OSHA requires this summary form to be displayed between February 1 and April 30.

According to OSHA’s recordkeeping and posting requirements, businesses with 10 or fewer employees and certain low-hazard industries are exempt from such posting requirements.

OSHA recordkeeping and reporting made headlines in 2016 and 2017 with the launch of the agency’s online reporting platform, called the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). As we previously reported, the electronic service was intended to improve workplace safety while giving researchers a pathway to more easily examine and identify new workplace hazards.

Companies required to comply with the electronic posting standard include businesses with 250 or more employees, or those with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk areas.

Since the electronic recordkeeping standard was introduced, there has been much debate over whether or not the electronic posting is necessary and fully secure. Certain states have OSHA-approved State Plans that have not, as of yet, adopted the requirement to submit electronic OSHA injury and illness reports. Businesses in these states — California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — are not currently required to submit electronic data to OSHA through the ITA.

Stick with the safety experts at SCT as we follow all the developments with OSHA recordkeeping rules and regulations.

But remember, come Thursday, February 1, 2018, your company needs to post a copy of its OSHA 300A Form in a common area for all employees to access.

Start 2018 off right with an OSHA Tune Up from SCT

Start 2018 off right with an OSHA Tune Up from SCT, your number one occupational safety and health provider. Our OSHA Tune Up service, which is great for manufacturers, provides a comprehensive review of all written safety and health programs, a thorough safety and health hazard assessment of facilities, and written recommendations for achieving OSHA compliance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. manufacturers have been seeing a trend of decreasing non-fatal injuries and illnesses, which is great news. However, manufacturing still outpaces other industries — including construction — for non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses.

Watch our video below and listen to Mike O’Donnell, SCT’s Director of Business Development, explain our OSHA Tune Up service and how it can benefit your business today!

OSHA’s Electronic Reporting Deadline Looms

The extended deadline for affected employers for OSHA’s electronic reporting system is coming up on Friday, December 15, 2017.

Who needs to electronically report?

Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and business with 20 to 249 employees in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Keep in mind that certain states have OSHA-approved State Plans that have not, as of yet, adopted the requirement to submit electronic OSHA injury and illness reports. Businesses in these states — California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — are not currently required to submit electronic data to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA).

What is the ITA’s purpose?

The ITA’s intent is to improve the overall tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, and provide better recordkeeping management to affected establishments. According to a press release, OSHA is currently reviewing other provisions of the new final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and will published proposed reconsiderations or revisions to portions of its rule in 2018.

Check out our video OSHA’s Electronic Reporting and what it means for your business:

For all your occupational safety and health needs contact the experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or email us using the contact form below!



DOT drug testing to include synthetic opiods

The Federal Department of Transportation has added four semi-synthetic opioids to its drug testing regimen. As of January 1, 2018, affected employees with five federal agencies will be subjected to the expanded DOT drug testing measures.

Those agencies include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. Read more about the specific employees covered under DOT Testing Regulation 49 CFR Part 40 here.

The four semi-synthetics opioids new to the DOT drug testing panel include: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. All are used for moderate to severe pain management or pain relief. Common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.

The final rule was published in the November 13th edition of the Federal Register.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 33,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2015.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said when the final rule was published in November. “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

The occupational health experts at SCT stay current on all updates and expansions when it comes to different regulations from federal, state, and local partners. SCT can meet all your drug testing needs. If you’re located in our home state of Ohio, SCT can help businesses navigate the Ohio BWC application for the Drug Free Safety Program, which can earn companies a 4 or 7 percent rebate on workers’ compensation premiums.

If you’re interested in taking part in the Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program, now’s the time to act! All testing, training and reporting is due by the last business day in March 2018. Watch our DFSP video for more information & contact us using the contact form below to get started on your DFSP today!