‘Take-home toxins’: Study shows construction workers may be putting family at risk

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Boston — Construction workers are at increased risk of unintentionally tracking various toxic metals from the jobsite into their homes – potentially putting family members at risk, results of a recent study show.

Researchers from Boston University’s School of Public Health and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health visited the homes of 27 workers (21 in construction) who had at least one child to collect dust samples and make observations. They identified and measured for 30 different toxic metals. The workers completed a questionnaire regarding work- and home-related practices that could affect exposure.

Results showed that the construction workers’ homes had higher concentrations of arsenic, chromium, copper, manganese, lead, nickel and tin dust than the homes of the other workers, who had janitorial or automobile repair jobs.

The higher concentrations were associated with worker factors such as lower education, not having a work locker to store clothes, mixing work and personal items, not having a place to launder clothes, and not washing hands and changing clothes after work.

The researchers say the new data underscores the need for more proactive and preventive measures to reduce so-called “take-home toxins,” including policies, resources and education for workers and their families.

“Many professions are exposed to toxic metals at work, but construction workers have a more difficult job implementing safe practices when leaving the worksite because of the type of transient outdoor environments where they work, and the lack of training on these topics,” lead study author Diana Ceballos, an assistant professor of environmental health and director of the Exposure Biology Research Laboratory at BU, said in a press release. “It is inevitable that these toxic metals will migrate to the homes, families and communities of exposed workers.”

Ceballos adds that the issue is compounded when construction workers live in disadvantaged communities or substandard housing that may already contain toxic metals.

The study is scheduled to be published in the June issue of the journal Environmental Research.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Prevent dump truck tip-overs

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Prevent dump truck tip-overs Tips

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation Flickr

Because of their high center of gravity, dump trucks can easily become unstable and tip over.

“Many factors contribute to dump truck tip-overs depending on the worksite and the type of truck used,” the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers’ Compensation explains. “However, the main hazard is related to the stability of the end-dump unit when the box is in the raised position. When the center of gravity of the box and load is not between the unit’s frame rails, there is a risk of tip-over.”

Some common factors that can cause tip-overs are operating on uneven or soft ground or a slope, materials being loaded unevenly, or the load doesn’t flow during dumping. “Sometimes material does not move out of the top portion of the box or does not flow out of one side of the top portion as expected,” TDI says. “The uneven distribution of the load can decrease the truck’s stability and result in a tip-over.”

Help prevent tip-overs with these tips from TDI:

  • Use the right type of dump truck for the job. “For example, use belly-dump semitrailers instead of end-dump semitrailers for spreading aggregate for road construction. Use straight trucks or pup trailers instead of semitrailers to haul to rough graded or fill areas where surfaces are uneven or loosely compacted.”
  • Stay within regulated weight limits.
  • Lighten the load when hauling poor-flowing materials.
  • Check to see that the vehicle is on even ground before dumping. Avoid soft, uneven surfaces.
  • Make sure the tailgate is unlocked and the vehicle is on a reasonably level surface before dumping.
  • Never dump near people or other vehicles.
  • Create a maintenance and inspection program. Preventive maintenance and regular inspections play an important role in eliminating vehicle tip-overs.
  • Establish and enforce safety procedures and policies.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Anxiety and depression in construction workers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Image from CPWR

Silver Spring, MD — Symptoms of anxiety and depression among construction workers have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among women and workers living in poverty, according to a new report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

Anxiety and depression are of particular importance in the construction industry, CPWR notes, citing a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that concluded male construction workers have one of the highest suicide rates among all industries and are at four times greater risk than the general public.

Using 2011-2018 and 2020 data from the National Health Interview Survey, researchers examined self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression among construction workers to uncover any potential patterns and changes amid the pandemic. During the time frame prior to the pandemic, the number of construction workers who reported feeling anxious at least once a month rose 20%.

Among a subset of nearly 1,300 construction workers who were surveyed in both 2019 and 2020, 43% reported a rise in the level or frequency of anxiety/depression feelings between the two years. Those increased feelings were most prevalent among workers whose family incomes were below the poverty line (61%), female workers (50%) and those ages 18-54 (46%).

The 2020 data shows that symptoms of or medication use for anxiety/depression were nearly three times higher for workers who used prescription opioids in the past year (39%) compared with those who did not (14%).

Construction employers can act by sharing resources with their workers. CPWR offers resources on suicide prevention and preventing opioid deaths, while NIOSH has a webpage on stress at work.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA announces stand-down on preventing construction worker suicides

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Image from CPWR

OSHA is urging employers in the construction industry to take part in a weeklong safety stand-down to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Slated for Sept. 6-10, the Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down coincides with National Suicide Prevention Month. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published last year concluded that male construction workers have one of the highest suicide rates when compared with other industries and are at four times greater risk than the general public.

“Work-related stress can have severe impacts on mental health and, without proper support, may lead to substance abuse and even suicide,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said in the release. “Workers in construction face many work-related stressors that may increase their risk factors for suicide, such as the uncertainty of seasonal work, demanding schedules and workplace injuries that are sometimes treated with opioids.”

An OSHA press release highlights a number of the agency’s resources that employers can use during the weeklong event, as well as others produced by construction industry groups. The agency has assembled a task force to help raise awareness on the types of stress that construction workers may face.

OSHA’s regional offices in Kansas City and St. Louis initiated the first stand-down last year in partnership with The Builders’ Association, the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, the University of Iowa, Washington University, the University of Kansas, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, local worker unions and several employers. The event included more than 5,000 participants, the release states.

                                                       

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Construction workers at higher risk of COPD, study shows

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Silver Spring, MD — Workers in construction trades are at “significantly” higher risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than non-construction workers, according to the results of a recent study.

A team of researchers from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, Duke University and the University of Maryland studied nearly 18,000 participants in the Building Trades Medical Screening Program, or BTMed, to determine the risk of COPD among different trades. The study involved a larger cohort than a 2010 study of construction workers at U.S. Department of Energy nuclear facilities who participated in the BTMed. Those workers were found to have increased COPD risk, according to CPWR.

Overall, 13.4% of the participants had COPD and more than two-thirds of the cases were classified as moderate to severe. Compared with non-construction workers, the participants had a 1.34 times greater risk of COPD and a 1.61 times higher risk of severe COPD.

The trades with the highest level of risk were cement masons/bricklayers (2.36 times) and roofers (2.22).

Based on the new findings, the researchers say additional preventive measures are needed to reduce workplace exposures to vapors, gases, dusts and fumes to reduce the risk of COPD. In addition, workers who smoke can benefit from cessation support and advice.

The study was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Working safely with nanomaterials: CPWR publishes new resources

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
Nanomaterials.jpg

Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — In an effort to protect workers who handle products containing nanomaterials, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training has released a pair of toolbox talks and an infographic.

Nanomaterials have at least one dimension (height, width or length) that is smaller than 100 nanometers – thinner than a human hair. According to CPWR, hundreds of construction products such as cement, adhesives, and paints and coatings contain engineered nanomaterials. When these materials are cut, sanded or sprayed, the dust or mist produced can get into a worker’s lungs as well as cuts and cracks in the skin.

Each toolbox talk – Airborne Exposures When Working with Nano-Enabled Concrete and Right to Know About Chemical Hazards: Nanomaterials – provides guidance through a short story, key points to remember and a graphic.

CPWR says workers can protect themselves by wearing a respirator, seeking training about nanomaterials and the products that contain them, and controlling for dust via wet methods or the use of a vacuum.

The resources are available in English and Spanish.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Make Fall Safety a Top Priority

Falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury-related death at work. In 2018, 791 people died in falls from heights and from the same level at work. For working adults, depending on the industry, falls can be the leading cause of death.

Hazards in the Workplace

Also in 2018, more than 240,000 people were injured badly enough in falls to require days off of work, according to Injury Facts.

Construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from height – more than seven times the rate of other industries – but falls can happen anywhere, even at a “desk job.”

NSC data for 2018 measures deaths and injuries due to falls from height and falls on the same level, by industry, including:

  • Construction: 10,650 injuries, 320 deaths
  • Production: 17,160 injuries, 39 deaths
  • Transportation and Material Moving: 45,730 injuries, 82 deaths
  • Farming, Fishing and Forestry: 4,380 injuries, 17 deaths
  • Building and Grounds Maintenance: 16,880 injuries, 99 deaths
  • Healthcare: 13,600 injuries, 3 deaths

Falls are 100% Preventable

Whether working from a ladder, roof or scaffolding, it’s important to plan ahead, assess the risk and use the right equipment. First, determine if working from a height is absolutely necessary or if there is another way to do the task safely.

  • Discuss the task with coworkers and determine what safety equipment is needed
  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use the equipment
  • Scan the work area for potential hazards before starting the job
  • Make sure you have level ground to set up the equipment
  • If working outside, check the weather forecast; never work in inclement weather
  • Use the correct tool for the job, and use it as intended
  • Ensure stepladders have a locking device to hold the front and back open
  • Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder
  • Place the ladder on a solid surface and never lean it against an unstable surface
  • A straight or extension ladder should be 1 foot away from the surface it rests on for every 4 feet of height and extend at least 3 feet over the top edge
  • Securely fasten straight and extension ladders to an upper support
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes and don’t stand higher than the third rung from the top
  • Don’t lean or reach while on a ladder, and have someone support the bottom
  • Never use old or damaged equipment; check thoroughly before use

Millions of people are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every year. A fall can end in death or disability in a split second, but with a few simple precautions, you’ll be sure stay safe at at work.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Construction, agricultural workers at higher risk of knee osteoarthritis: study

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Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Sydney — Workers in the construction and agriculture industries face an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis, in part because of the rigorous physical demands of the job, results of a recent study led by researchers at the University of Sydney suggest.

The researchers analyzed 71 studies with more than 950,000 participants to examine relationships between on-the-job exposure, knee osteoarthritis and total knee replacement. Findings show that, compared with occupations that involve low levels of physical activity, agricultural workers are up to 64% more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, while builders and floor layers are up to 63% more likely to be affected by the condition.

Workers in these sectors who routinely engage in “heavy lifting, frequent climbing, prolonged kneeling, squatting and standing” are especially vulnerable, the researchers noted. Also at increased odds: metal workers, miners, cleaners and service workers.

Noting that knee osteoarthritis is “the most common joint disorder worldwide,” Xia Wang, lead study author and musculoskeletal researcher at the university’s Royal North Shore Hospital, said in a July 8 press release that “tailored preventive strategies need to be implemented early on to adapt the aging workforces in many countries that push for longer employment trajectories.”

The study was published online July 7 in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.

‘It happens in a second’: CPWR webinar focuses on preventing trench collapses

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Silver Spring, MD — Pausing on an image of workers installing a septic tank liner, OSHA Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham told attendees of a May 28 webinar they were looking at “a tragedy in the making.”

The photo showed an unprotected trench, and one of the workers pictured died when the trench collapsed moments after the photo was taken, said Ketcham, one of several experts featured in the webinar, hosted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

“This is why we’re focusing on trenching,” he said. “It happens in a second, and the conditions can lead to loss of life very quickly.”

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 workers died in excavation or trenching incidents in 2018.

Joe Wise, regional customer training manager of trench safety at United Rentals, and Alan Echt, senior industrial hygienist at the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health, joined Ketcham in addressing factors that influence trench safety during the one-hour presentation.

Atop the list are protective systems. The OSHA standard for trenching and excavation (29 CFR 1926.650-652, Subpart P) requires protective systems for trenches that are 5 feet or deeper, unless the excavation occurs in stable rock. A registered professional engineer is required to design protective systems for trenches that are at least 20 feet deep or approve tabulated data prepared for the system.

The three primary protective systems are:
Sloping (or benching): Cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
Shoring: Installing aluminum hydraulics or other types of supports to prevent cave-ins.
Shielding: Using trench boxes or other supports to prevent cave-ins.

Wise highlighted the vital role served by the designated competent person, who leads the operation and assesses existing and potential hazards before work begins.

“There’s so many different ways to help shore up a trench, and not every job is the same, so someone that is a competent person, that has that awareness of many different solutions, is going to be better suited to make sure that job can not only be safe, but also very productive in the process of that project,” Wise said.

The National Utility Contractors Association recently declared June Trench Safety Month. In addition, the North American Excavation Shoring Association and OSHA are set to host a series of educational trench safety summits in Boston; Orlando, FL; Los Angeles; and Denver during the summer and early fall.

Osha has a new webpage with guidance specifically for keeping construction workers safe during the pandemic

Construction worker with PPE | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Turner Construction

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Turner Construction

This section provides guidance for construction employers and workers, such as those engaged in carpentry, ironworking, plumbing, electrical, heating/ ventilation/air conditioning/ventilation, masonry and concrete work, utility construction work, and earthmoving activities.

Click here to visit the new webpage.