On April 18, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued its final rule to better protect miners against occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The final rule will not only cover contractors who operate surface mines, but also any contractor who performs construction or maintenance activities at a mine site. After the publication of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final rule addressing exposure to crystalline silica, many surface mine operators established programs that incorporated the OSHA requirements.

Construction workers make up approximately five percent of the country’s workforce but account for an average of 19% of all job-related fatalities each year. Over the past 10 years, at least, an average of 372 workers were killed from falls, slips, and trips, and fall protection violations continue to be among the most cited standards in the construction industry, consistently topping the list of OSHA’s most frequently cited violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced last week that its Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) and National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) will be meeting virtually on April 24 (1:00 PM – 5:30 PM Eastern) and May 7 (9:00 AM – 4:30 PM Eastern), respectively. Important topics on these agendas include an OSHA Regulatory Update, Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Rulemaking, and Infectious Diseases Rulemaking. There will be opportunities for public comment in both meetings. AGC encourages members to attend these two important meetings and weigh in on these important issues.

AGC and Survey Partner HCSS Will Use Survey Results to Urge Motorists to Be Careful During the Summer Travel Season

On April 1, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published its Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process final rule that made significant changes to its existing regulation regarding individuals that can serve as the authorized employee representative during the physical inspection of workplaces. According to OSHA, the new rule clarifies that consistent with the OSH Act, employee representatives may either be an employee of the employer or a third party. These third-party individuals could potentially include union representatives at non-union worksites, community activists, worker advocacy groups, and personal injury attorneys, among others. While OSHA believes that there will be no change to the current inspection process, AGC believes that there are significant concerns that could arise from the agency’s new policy. Such concerns include the lack of a formal process for the identification of the representative among employees, lack of notification to employers as to whom this individual may be as well as an established process for employers to dispute the selection, and the limited ability for a compliance safety and health officer to verify the qualifications of the individual or individuals. Further, the new rule could expose employers to increased liability of injury in the event an inexperienced person gains access to a construction site. AGC is currently exploring options to challenge the new rule, including filing a court challenge.

Excavation projects are critical for the development and construction of utility systems, such as drinking and wastewater pipes, traditional and renewable energy sources, and broadband internet. Safety protocols must be adhered to throughout the entire construction process to reduce damages. These safety protocols usually begin with a call to a state one-call notification center before excavation.

This year’s theme for Construction Safety Week is “VALUE EVERY VOICE.” The focus is on driving personal ownership of safety, welcoming new ideas, fostering healthy communication, and improving workplace culture. To access all the resources you need to plan your event, visit the Construction Safety Week website.

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) Expert Evaluation Panel recently released guidance for employers on selecting head protection equipment in construction. It covers the importance of head protection, types of hazards, standards and regulations, choosing the right helmet, and maintenance and replacement considerations. It emphasizes the need for proper fit, comfort, and suitability for the specific work environment.