Plenty of jobs, plenty of danger
With construction jobs mushrooming across the country safety is becoming a big problem.
Onboarding unskilled laborers and inexperienced craftsmen has become such a concern that unions are speaking out. The Associated General Contractors of America just released new safety recommendations based on analysis of three years of construction fatality data.
In a new study the AGC said that two-thirds of metro areas added construction jobs during the past 12 months.
"We all share a common goal: getting to zero construction fatalities," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "This report offers the kind of data and recommendations needed to help construction firms achieve that goal."
239 out of 358 metro areas added construction jobs between February 2016 and February 2017.
The numbers are eye-popping compared to the bad old days of the Great Recession. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California added the most jobs, 9,000 which was a 10 percent annual increase.
Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn. Expanded by a whopping 37 percent, adding 1,000 jobs, marking the highest percent of new construction jobs in the country.
The AGC worked with the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech University to study every construction fatality that took place over a three-year period. Sandherr said the best route to construction safety is to understand why, when and how construction fatalities occur.
Falls from ladders and other structures account for one-third of U.S. construction fatalities. Safety officers have long focused on training and safety stand-downs addressing fall protection.
The association is now also looking to establish new training programs designed to improve ladder safety.
"Equipment is often the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about preventing falls," Oregon OSHA's Public Information Officer
Aaron Corvin told the Business Tribune. "However, fall protection is about making safety a regular part of what you do, including training, communications, and proper planning before the work begins."
Death at noon
Going against popular belief, the study showed that noon, not morning, is the deadliest time of day in construction. The AGC now advises construction firms to hold safety talks and stretching sessions when workers return from the 11 a.m. to noon lunch breaks common on most job sites.
Hispanic construction workers are not more prone to dying on the job than others. They account for 24 percent of the national construction workforce and 25 percent of all construction fatalities. Sandherr said this was important because it indicates that construction firms need to craft safety programs targeting their entire workforce, instead of specific segments.