New York City Cracking Down on Safety Violation in Construction Industry

There are thousands of workers across job sites across New York City. The Big Apple has had a busy construction scene for the past few years, and with more jobs and more employees, come more accidents.

More people have died working in construction than in any other industry in the Big Apple, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CBS 2 reports that more than 11,000 job sites have employees who are not properly trained and construction site injuries are up 221% compared to data from 5 years ago. That’s why the Department of Buildings is putting more effort to enforcing and regulating safety compliance in the industry.

The New York City Department of Buildings has enacted more than 25 laws to increase construction site safety, including an on-site smoking ban, uniformity in sprinkler and standpipe color coding, more registration requirements for certain construction activities, and pre-shift safety meetings.

Workers need to have 10 hours of safety training, and next year they’ll need to have four times as much. Any employer who is not complying with the regulations is getting ticketed by the department, and it’s not cheap. It costs the property owner, contractor and employer $5,000 in fines each.


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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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Springtime Construction Safety

Winter has passed, and Spring has finally sprung!  Spring weather is unpredictable to say the very least, bringing with it equally unpredictable safety hazards. You may walk out your door one morning in a heavy winter coat, and return home wearing a t-shirt. The key is being prepared for whatever mother nature has in store.

Spring's fluctuating temperatures and frequent rain showers pose a different set of problems on the job site.  Frosty spring mornings can warm up significantly by early afternoon. Dress in layers that can be removed as the day heats up. Drinking plenty of water will help you remain hydrated.

Be prepared for the variants in weather conditions, cold, snow, rain, wind, and sun. Keep a plastic bin with a variety of clothing options and weather-resistant personal protective equipment (PPE) that is in line with OSHA’s PPE standards in your vehicle. Items such as sunscreen, bottled water, and non-perishable snack items would also make a great addition. Dehydration and low blood sugar can lead to dizziness and instability, especially when working at elevated heights.

Slip and fall hazards quickly become a concern when the rising temperatures turn frozen dirt into mud. Be mindful of wet conditions especially when using ladders or working on roofs or scaffolding. Always wear the right PPE for the job. Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the construction industry. Osha’s most common citations are directly related to fall protection standards.

Consider taking online safety training with courses such as Construction Health and Safety Compliance, Construction Safety and 29 CFR 1926 Stairways and Ladders. Course selections may vary from state to state as well as state required education standards. Company training discounts on state-approved online safety training for your entire crew is available 24/7 at www.licensetobuild.com.

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What You Need to Know About PPE

WHAT IS PPE?

Personal Protection Equipment, often referred to as "PPE" is equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards. Examples of PPE include gloves, foot, and eye protection, protective hearing protection (earplugs, muffs), hard hats and respirators.

  • Eye and Face Protection
    Safety glasses or face shields are worn any time work operations can cause foreign objects to get in the eye. For example, during welding, cutting, grinding, nailing (or when working with concrete and/or harmful chemicals or when exposed to flying particles). Wear when exposed to any electrical hazards, including working on energized electrical systems.
  • Eye and face protectors
    Select based on anticipated hazards.
  • Foot Protection
    Construction workers should wear work shoes or boots with slip-resistant and puncture-resistant soles. Safety-toed footwear is worn to prevent crushed toes when working around heavy equipment or falling objects.
  • Hand Protection
    Gloves should fit snugly. Workers should wear the right gloves for the job (examples: heavy-duty rubber gloves for concrete work; welding gloves for welding; insulated gloves and sleeves when exposed to electrical hazards).
  • Head Protection
    Wear hard hats where there is a potential for objects falling from above, bumps to the head from fixed objects, or of accidental head contact with electrical hazards.
  • Hard hats
    Routinely inspect them for dents, cracks or deterioration; replace after a heavy blow or electrical shock; maintain in good condition.
  • Hearing Protection
    Use earplugs/earmuffs in high noise work areas where chainsaws or heavy equipment are used; clean or replace earplugs regularly.

WHO PAYS FOR PPE?

OSHA requires employers to conduct an assessment of their workplace to determine what PPE is required for their employees, such as specialized clothing, headgear or eyewear. The standards generally require employers to pay for mandated PPE, although some exceptions apply.

CAN EMPLOYERS FORCE WORKERS TO PAY FOR PPE?

Most employers purchase essential PPE for employees to use. When necessary employers can request an employee to pay for lost or damaged equipment, but OSHA guidelines prevent them from charging employees for safety and protective gear like gloves and goggles. They cannot force an employee to pay, only request. There is a difference between forcing and requesting. If an employee is not willing to honor the employers' request to pay for lost or damaged PPE, the employer must decide the consequences, including termination of employment.

If an employee accidentally damages or breaks company-owned equipment, he/she cannot be required to pay for its replacement. Accidents happen and whatever damage should be treated as a business expense.

CAN EMPLOYEES BUY THEIR OWN PPE?

Yes, OSHA rules allow employees to purchase their own protective gear, and the employer is not required to reimburse the employee. The employer is still responsible to ensure that all PPE used on the job meets OSHA requirements as well as ensure that it is worn properly. If the employee-owned PPE becomes damaged or the employee no longer wishes to use his own PPE, the employer must provide it.

EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT

Consider taking online safety training with courses such as Construction Health and Safety Compliance, Construction Safety and 29 CFR 1926 Stairways and Ladders. Course selections may vary from state to state as well as state required education standards. Company training discounts on state-approved online safety training for your entire crew is available 24/7 at www.licensetobuild.com.

The Builders License Training Institute is a division of Certified Training Institute which offers online licensing and renewal training for industries such as  Builders, Architects, Engineering, Pesticide, Plumbing, and Real Estate.

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Ladders: Are they the Best Tool for the Job?

Ladders are the oldest tool still in use today. These amazing tools date back approximately 10,000 years.  Despite being around for ages, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recently did a study and discovered that in the last decade 81% of fall injuries among construction workers treated in the U.S. involved a ladder. Ladders are a crucial tool of the trade which requires little to no training, making them time and cost efficient. However, that same study said that 43% of FATAL falls have involved ladders. With statistics like that, shouldn't ladders be banned from job sites?

Experts in the field agree that ladders should be the last choice when trying to work at an elevated height. They have been the preferred method for decades but at such a high cost. Companies have been getting fancier with ladder design in hopes of making them safer by adjusting the base width and adding platforms at the top to address safety concerns, but then they aren’t as portable or easy to use. Researchers have determined that a key issue with ladder safety is fatigue. Standing and balancing on a step is tiring and leads to fatigue. If the ladder is being used for hours, workers end up taking shortcuts. Workers will reach a little further if the ladder is a little short they will just “make it work”. Luckily in the past 15-20 years, companies have started to focus on the tools and equipment that make it safer for workers vs. workers having to make a decision to be safe.

With the cost of incidents and damages rising, it’s become less acceptable and more costly to use a ladder on job sites. In the U.S. we have typically blamed the worker for a fall, but in most cases, companies provide workers with a poor tool for the expected job. Some countries have gone as far as making laws to sue or imprison supervisors for not doing a proper risk assessment and watching any worker who is working at elevated heights. The employer is held responsible. If everyone knew they were going to be held liable, perhaps companies would look closer at preventing the use of ladders and lowering the risk to their workers.

Scott the instructor did an excellent job with the class. He was very helpful with questions and answers. I would take a class with him teaching again.

Scott Becht from Hartford, MI
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