Construction Company Fined after Workers Burned by Scalding Oil

Nelcon Inc, a Montana construction company, faces $261,000 in fines after three workers were burned by hot oil at an asphalt plant in Laurel last fall. The safety citation stems from an Oct. 25 incident, where Nelcon employees suffered second and third degree burns while pouring oil into a heating container used for the asphalt-mixing process. The oil heated to 450 degrees reacted with cooler oil and spilled onto the workers.

In a press release by the U.S. Department of Labor OSHA, “OSHA inspectors determined that Nelcon Inc. failed to use fall protection systems; guard machinery; provide adequate personal protective equipment; control hazardous energy; and report a work-related incident leading to in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours, as required.”

OSHA also issued a health citation that found Nelcon in violation of not providing facilities for flushing eyes and skin that have been exposed to hazardous chemicals, not properly labeling and training for hazardous chemicals.

Our OSHA and safety training courses help you stay compliant with industry regulations and codes. Learn the necessary information to ensure chemical safety in the workplace such as right-to-know information, the Global Harmonizing Information, Safety Data Sheets, and labels.


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4 Safety Practices for the Modern Jobsite

Dodge Data & Analytics (DDA), a provider of analytics and software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry, conducted a new study for the Center for Construction Research and Planning (CPWR).

The study asked contractors about specific practices focused on safety like reducing noise levels and fall risks, to broader practices like adopting a safe jobsite climate that includes supervisor mentorship and training.

Dodge Data & Analytics shows four safety best practices that need to become commonplace on jobsites. The study helps reveal ways that the construction industry can still improve practices to help with worker safety, health, and well-being.

For the briefness of this blog, this is how they defined different size construction companies:

  • Large companies: annual revenues of $100 million or more
  • Midsize companies: annual revenues of $10 to $100 million
  • Small companies: annual revenues below $10 million

Manage hazards before construction begins

There is a clear pattern of large companies utilizing more safety practice techniques compared to smaller companies. One area that large companies consistently perform better than smaller ones is advanced hazard planning. 42% of respondents in large companies reported that they believed their company handles advanced planning well—compared to 28% of midsize and 36% of small companies.

A similar trend appears when looking at materials-handling practices. 86% of contractors from large companies reported that they formally plan how materials will be handled once work is awarded, and 72% reported that they meet with employees for a discussion on how materials will be moved. In comparison, small and midsize companies reported they develop a formal plan for material handling, but only 54% conduct those meetings with employees.

Take advantage of online safety tools

According to the study, another way midsize and small companies can help develop jobsite safety is utilize websites and online tools that provide useful information and materials for improving safety.

Surveyors were asked if they used websites from Stop Construction Falls, Choose Hand Safety, CPWR’s Construction Solutions database, as well as the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health. Dodge Data & Analytics states “The gap between the percentage of contractors using them and the percentage who find that they provide value suggests that wider use of these online resources could help contractors access practices and solutions, ultimately helping them improve safety on-site.”

Mentor Subcontractors on Safety Performance

Providing health and safety related mentorship to subcontractors helps with the safety climate of a project by making sure that all workers understand the safety goals and parameters. The findings found that this type of mentorship was not common practice.

58% of respondents from large companies reported this type of safety mentorship on their projects, with small and midsize companies saying 29% and 35% provide it.

Practice Lean Construction Widely

Dodge Data & Analytics describes lean construction as “The goals of eliminating waste and improving the process of construction are frequently supported by enhanced leadership and communication across the organization. These same qualities are essential to enhancing safety, and safety is also a key performance indicator of success for lean projects.”

Many contractors in the study reported that they are familiar with lean construction, which is a huge increase from 53% in a similar study conducted in 2013.  But In the current study only 21% reported implementing lean procedures at their businesses.

Dodge Data & Analytics show there is a lot of safety practices that construction companies can focus on to improve the jobsite climate. Larger companies have the resources to ensure safety practices but there are applications smaller and midsize companies could implement to improve jobsite safety.


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Construction Job Gains Outlook

The construction sector, including data from the both residential and non-residential contracting, experienced 3.5% increase in April 2019 compared to April 2018.

  • Texas added the largest state gain of employment with 32,500 jobs. Louisiana lost the most construction jobs with 8,400.
  • West Virginia had the highest annual growth in the construction industry with 33.7%. Vermont reported the biggest decline at 7.2%.

Nationwide, the job growth (excluding farm workers) increased by 263,000 over the month of April—stronger than expected from estimates in March. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that is a 41% increase, but 8 states and the District of Columbia did see a decrease.

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All 50 states increased in employment from the year-to-year average ending in April. “12 states recorded annualized growth to and/or above 1.8% in employment, which was the national growth rate.” Texas added the most with 294,200 jobs.


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Contractor Convicted of Cash Bribes to Mayor

A contractor and his Illinois company, Tower Contracting, were convicted for paying off then-mayor David Webb Jr. of Markham with nearly $100,000 in bribes to secure work.

The Chicago Tribune reported that a federal jury convicted Michael Jarigese and his business of 10 counts of “honest services” wire fraud and federal program bribery. Jarigese faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for serious fraud counts and Tower Contracting could face a hefty fine.

Usually in public corruption investigations the contractors are the ones who corroborate with the government and testify against politicians, but in this situation, it was the mayor who cooperated with prosecutors. Webb admitted he took a combined $300,000 from Tower Contracting and other contractors beginning in 2008. Webb had a shell company that he set up using his children’s name called “Kat Remodeling” to funnel in bribes, to make payments seem legitimate.

The federal guidelines call for Webb to be sentenced between 7-9 years in prison but if he testifies truthfully prosecutors say they will recommend 4 ½ years behind bars.


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