The hard hat celebrates a landmark birthday, drug use among construction workers – and how to test for it – and safety technology comes to the construction industry. These were among the top construction industry safety stories of 2019.

NJ construction company pays OSHA penalties after 21 years of resistance

December 6, 2019

After more than two decades years of legal wrangling, OSHA has finally collected $412,000 in penalties assessed to a New Jersey construction company for safety violations – plus interest. The action comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July found Altor Inc. and its president Vasilios Saites in contempt for failing to pay the fines. 

CIC crane operator certifications not accepted going forward

December 5, 2019

Crane operators take note: OSHA will not accept crane operator certifications or re-certifications issued by Crane Institute Certification (CIC) after December 2 because CIC is not compliant with OSHA’s operator certification requirement, according to a temporary enforcement policy announced this week by the agency.

Construction workers use marijuana, cocaine more than others

November 18, 2019

Construction trade and extraction workers (CTEW) are at high-risk for drug use, according to a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, that found marijuana, cocaine, and non-prescription opioid (NPO) use in particular was higher among that group. 

A NIOSH Science Blog post

Wearable technologies for improved safety and health on construction sites

Scott Earnest PhD PE CSP John Snawder PhD, DABT Capt. Alan Echt DrPH, CIH Elizabeth Garza Rick Rinehart ScD

November 18, 2019

Wearable technologies are an increasingly popular consumer electronic for a variety of applications at home and at work. In general, these devices include accessories and clothing that incorporate advanced electronic technologies, often with smartphone or ‘internet of things’ (IoT) connectivity. While wearables are increasingly being used to improve health and well-being by aiding in personal fitness, innovative applications for monitoring occupational safety and health risk factors are becoming more common.

Multiple errors, inadequate peer review led to pedestrian bridge collapse in Florida

October 23, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that load and capacity calculation errors made by FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc., are the probable cause of the fatal, March 15, 2018, Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami. Contributing to the collapse was an inadequate peer review by Louis Berger, the independent consultant hired to verify the bridge's integrity and design by FIGG.

Employer-reported work-related MSDs in construction down sharply

-But self-reported MSDs remain flat

October 15, 2019

A new Quarterly Data Report (QDR) from the Center for Construction Research and Training examines trends in work and non-work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the soft-tissue injuries caused by exposure to repetitive or sudden motions, forces, and awkward positions. In 2017, the rate of employer-reported, work-related MSDs in construction was 31.2 cases per 10,000 FTEs, less than one-quarter of 1992's level.

New Orleans hotel-under-construction collapse kills 2

October 14, 2019

Crews yesterday resumed searching for a person still missing in the rubble of a New Orleans construction site after a deadly building collapse on Saturday. News report say six to eight floors of the under-construction Hard Rock Hotel collapsed, killing two people and injuring at least 18 others.

Still struggling with Silica: OSHA standard causes compliance woes

Kevin Brown

October 1, 2019

OSHA estimates some two million construction employees are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in more than 600,000 workplaces across the country. To comply, companies need to follow multiple steps that aren’t always as easy as they might seem.

Marijuana breathalyzers coming to workplaces

September 17, 2019

The legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in more and more states is posing a quandary for employers. Traditional methods of drug testing can determine if someone has tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the marijuana ingredient that causes a “high” - in their system, but not when they ingested it. THC can be found for weeks in the blood and urine of regular users.

Construction worker sues Marriott, others over coworkers’ deaths

August 29, 2019

A construction worker who watched two co-workers fall to their deaths at a hotel construction site in Florida last year is suing Marriott and its partner companies for failing to provide sufficient safeguards for workers. News sources say the August 29 incident occurred during construction of a 16-story hotel.

Construction workers hit hard by heat-related illness

August 15, 2019

Although they compose only six percent of the total U.S. workforce, construction workers accounted for 36 percent of all occupational heat‐related deaths from 1992 to 2016 – and climate change may have something to do with it. That’s one of the key findings from new research from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

9 construction workers hurt in Houston roof collapse

July 30, 2019

Inadequate shoring may have caused the roof collapse yesterday in Houston that injured nine construction workers at a hotel being built in north Houston. According to news sources, the incident occurred while workers were pouring concrete.

Report: Tokyo Olympics construction workers are being overworked

June 17, 2019

Work being done to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo is raising concerns about worker safety. A report entitled, “The Dark Side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics,” published last month by the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) union, claims that laborers – many of them foreign workers – are being overworked and discouraged from reporting poor employment conditions.


Contractor’s defense in fatal fall: Victim was a subcontractor, not an employee

Dead worker was contractor's half-brother

June 17, 2019

A Maine contractor who was indicted on manslaughter charges after the death of an employee – his own half-brother – maintains that he is not culpable because his workers are not his employees and he cannot compel them to use fall protection. Shawn D. Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co. in Saco, pleaded not guilty to the charges in April.

High winds may have caused fatal Dallas crane collapse

June 10, 2019

Authorities are trying to determine if severe weather was the cause of a construction crane collapse yesterday in Dallas that killed one person and injured six. Severe storms with strong winds were moving through the area at the time of the incident in the city’s downtown. The crane plunged through four floors of an apartment building and onto a parking garage, causing some of the garage’s floors to collapse and burying vehicles in the rubble.

Construction supervisors don’t always practice the safety they preach

June 7, 2019

When it comes to safety in the construction industry, “the gap between what is said and what is actually done is alarming,” according to the authors of a new report that showcases research critical to the advancement of the industry. Overall, 90 percent of the hundreds of construction professionals who responded to a survey for the “People in Construction 2019 Report” by FireStarter Speaking & Consulting identified safety as a top priority.

OSHA eliminates a residential construction requirement

May 22, 2019

OSHA is eliminating a construction industry requirement that it says will “lessen the compliance burden of employers without jeopardizing the safety of employees.” In a final rule published in the Federal Register on May 14, the agency says employers will no longer have to post maximum safe-load limits of floors in storage areas when constructing single-family dwellings or wood-framed multi-family structures.

Three NYC construction workers die in one week

April 15, 2019

Three New York City construction workers died last week at three different worksites – two as the result of struck-by incidents. In Brooklyn, news sources report that 34 year-old Gregory Echevarria was killed when part of a crane he was helping to assemble fell on him. The incident occurred at 3:15 a.m. on Saturday at the entrance to the Holland tunnel, when a 7.5 ton counterweight fell on Echevarria.

Safety technology comes to construction industry

Everything from bionic builders (exosuits) to smart ID systems and intelligent robots

Lee Sadd

March 18, 2019

Though it's often characterized as a traditional blue-collar industry, construction has long been at the forefront of technological progress. It's critical that the development of safety, efficiency and structural technologies remains on the cutting edge.

OSHA trainer caught selling fake training cards

February 20, 2019

A certified OSHA trainer who plead guilty to selling fake OSHA training cards faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. According to the Department of Justice, training agent Mark Dropal sold more than 100 fraudulent training cards for about $200 each to carpenters in New York and New Jersey between Feb. 21 and March 11, 2018.

Hard hat turns 100 this year, inventor’s family celebrates all year

February 6, 2019

Women got the vote. Prohibition began. The Treaty of Versailles was signed. The National Football League was founded. And, the construction industry was forever changed by the invention of an often overlooked but significant worker safety advancement – the hard hat. And, while perhaps not considered a great technological invention now, at the time the invention of the hard hat revolutionized and galvanized the businesses and the people behind American industrial boom.