Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Construction worker suicide: New video talks about mental health, stigma

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Photo: Mechanical Contractors Association of America

Rockville, MD — Mental health is “just as important for your safety as that harness or anything else that you’re wearing,” Mechanical Contractors Association of America member Ricky Reams says in a new video.

MCAA’s video spotlights mental health awareness and suicide prevention in the construction industry, which has experienced elevated rates of suicide.

Experts say physical strain, deadline pressure and a macho culture may make it more difficult for workers to talk about mental health struggles.

“There’s fear of shame. We’re going to be judged,” Brandon Anderson, vice president of safety at AGC of Missouri and a survivor of previous suicide attempts, says in the video. “The guilt that, ‘I’m not strong enough to deal with that.’”

Sally Spencer-Thomas, a psychologist and international speaker on mental health awareness and suicide prevention, calls on the industry to reduce stigma around mental health.

“The thing that makes you really good at this job – tough-mindedness, stoicism, decisiveness, perseverance; you’ve got to have that to be able to do this work – is also the thing that makes you most vulnerable to suicide and overdose because you are least likely to reach out for support,” Spencer-Thomas said.

“What that culture tells you is to be self-reliant, to [bear through it], whatever the thing is. It’s stress. It’s pain. You just keep pushing. And that doesn’t work well for any kind of health issue. We have to change that culture.”

Anderson reminds construction professionals who suspect a worker is struggling to approach them with compassion.

Spencer-Thomas offers additional tips:

  • Start with expression of care: “I care about you. You matter to me.”
  • Tell them, “I’ve noticed …” – and then list specific behaviors or things that have changed, suggesting they don’t seem like themselves lately.
  • “Tell me what’s going on, tell me what’s happening for you.”
  • Listen with empathy and compassion.
  • If enough warning signs are present, pivot and ask directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?”

MCAA highlights resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number – 988.


Safety part of contractors group guide on AI in construction

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Photo: metamorworks/iStockphoto

Washington — Artificial intelligence in construction is the subject of a new technology guide from Associated Builders and Contractors.

Along with defining common AI terms, the guide provides an overview of AI uses during the span of a construction project – from preconstruction to building maintenance. It also includes best practices for AI policy and links to more information.

AI has the potential to help “contractors complete projects on time, minimize staffing challenges, save money, and improve health and safety,” Matt Abeles, vice president of construction technology and innovation at ABC, said in a press release. “The construction industry is faced with a steep worker shortage of more than half of a million in 2024, and promising technologies like AI can help address this challenge.

“As younger workers become industry leaders, we must approach AI in construction as beneficial with a balanced view that includes continuous evaluation, developing ethical guidelines, and increasing awareness about what AI can and cannot do.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Save the date: National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-By Incidents

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Washington — The National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-By Incidents is set for April 15-19.

This annual event – scheduled in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week – aims to raise awareness of struck-by hazards and how to prevent them.

“Struck-by hazards are present on nearly every jobsite, and include things like falling and flying objects, vehicles and heavy equipment, and swing hazards from cranes,” says event co-sponsor CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. “These incidents are the number one cause of nonfatal injuries in construction and the leading cause of death among heavy and civil construction workers, but they can be avoided by careful planning, training and the use of controls.”

Employers are encouraged to use the stand-down as an opportunity to pause the workday for safety demonstrations, toolbox talks and training opportunities.

NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda Construction Sector Council coordinates the stand-down, working in partnership with OSHA, CPWR, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet on Feb. 21-22 in Washington

Committee, workgroup meetings will be held in person, online

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health for Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.

The meeting will include remarks from the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker, updates on the construction industry from OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, a discussion about women in construction, reports from committee workgroups and a period during which the public is invited to make comments.

Three ACCSH workgroups will meet on Feb. 21. The Emerging Technology workgroup from 9-11 a.m.; the Workzone workgroup from 12-2 p.m.; and the Health in Construction workgroup from 2:10-4:10 p.m.

The full committee and workgroup meetings are open to the public and will be held in Conference Room C-5521, Room 4, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC 20210. Public attendance in-person is limited to 25 people.

To register for in-person attendance, contact Gretta Jameson at jameson.grettah@dol.gov by Feb. 15. Submit comments and requests to speak at the Federal eRulemaking Portal, Docket Number OSHA-2024-0002, by Feb. 15. Be sure to include the docket number on all submissions. Details on how to attend online are included in the docket and are available on the ACCSH webpage. Read the Federal Register notice for submission details.

The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, also known as the Construction Safety Act, established the committee to advise the Secretary of Labor and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health on CSA-related policy matters and the setting of construction standards.


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.

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

‘Be willing to listen’: Experts discuss suicide prevention in construction

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Photo: A-Digit/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — Smaller construction companies may have an advantage when it comes to helping workers find counseling and mental health services amid the industry’s ongoing suicide crisis.

To Jessica Bunting, director of the Research to Practice initiative at CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, companies with fewer employees are “already ahead of the game” in that regard. Bunting was one of a panel of experts who spoke during a Nov. 9 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council Divisions.

“It’s so much easier to accept help from someone that you already know and trust,” she said. “And so, I think if the leaders of these small companies can find it within themselves to be vulnerable and they’re building a sense of community, that sets them up to really change the whole culture of the company when it comes to both mental health and safety.”

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that construction occupations have the second-highest rate of suicide, ranking behind mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.

Increasing awareness and limiting stigma around the issue is the goal of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, whose executive director, Sonya Bohmann, facilitated the discussion with various members of the CIASP board of trustees.

Nick Robins – an environmental, health and safety official with Lendlease, a multinational construction and real estate company – called on employers to go beyond simply forming strategies for prevention. A good place to start? Acknowledging the issue and keeping an open dialogue about resources available to workers.

“The more you talk about it, the less stigma there is with it,” Robins said. “But to talk about it, you have to start the conversation. Once you start it, it’s hard to stop people. It really is. Because there will be people, the advocates, who will step forward and they’ve been waiting for this. So, start the conversation. Be willing to listen, give the time.”

Justin Azbill, director of national EHS at Milwaukee Tool, said assistance must be proactive rather than reactive. One step toward accomplishing this, he said, is educating employers “to be able to learn how to have conversations” about mental health as well as on “the importance of not diagnosing but understanding ways to get help.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

CPWR publishes tip sheets on preventing roofer falls

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — Two new resources from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training are intended to help prevent falls among roofing workers.

In “Roofing Safety for Construction Workers,” available in English and Spanish, CPWR cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that 1 out of 10 fatal slips, trips and falls involve roofers – 3 out of 5 of whom are Hispanic.

The organization calls on employers to:

  • Eliminate or minimize fall hazards during job planning, when possible.
  • Provide workers with proper tools and safety equipment to safely complete tasks.
  • Train workers on inspection and use of safety equipment in a language they understand.
  • Enforce safety regulations.
  • Regularly review work practices that help prevent falls.

An additional CPWR fact sheet – Roof Safety: Weather to Work? – provides guidance on working safely in inclement weather. Tips include:

  • Ensure workers are trained on fall protection and wearing proper personal protective equipment.
  • Monitor weather conditions before work and throughout the day.
  • Inspect the roof for icy, wet or slippery conditions before work starts.
  • Have a plan to provide workers with cover from lightning.
  • Find a stable, nonslippery surface to set up and secure a ladder.

A Spanish version of the weather-related resource is in development, CPWR says.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

CPWR releases resources for aging construction workers

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Photo: simonkr/iStockphoto

Silver Spring, MD — Recognizing the importance of older workers in the construction industry, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training has developed a series of resources for them.

Citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statics, CPWR says the average construction worker is 42 years old and that many of them are expected to remain on the job longer, “influenced by financial pressures as well as by job satisfaction.”

The resources include a data dashboard, tools for hazard assessment and primary preventionsupportive programs, and legal resources.

The Aging Workers Data Dashboard examines the U.S. workforce by the numbers, including the number of workers 55 and older in construction, along with the average worker age in all industries and nine separate industries.

Because the physical demands of construction work make hazard assessment and primary prevention important, CPWR offers a suite of guidance on:

  • Fall prevention and protection
  • Health and wellness promotion
  • Heat-related illness prevention
  • Lighting
  • Manual materials handling
  • Noise and hearing loss
  • Safety climate
  • Site management and housekeeping

Examples of supportive programs include pairing younger workers/apprentices with older journey persons, bidirectional mentorship and training for “career ladders.”

Online links to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, OSHA construction standards and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards provide information on age discrimination, workplace safety and health, and the role of reasonable accommodations on the job.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Stay safe when using portable light strings

Stay safe when using portable light strings

Photo: mokee81/iStockphoto

OSHA requires employers to ensure work areas have sufficient lighting. Sometimes that means extra help is needed. “When adequate illumination is not obtainable by permanent lighting sources,” OSHA states in standard 1915.82(a)(4), “temporary lighting may be used as supplementation.”

One solution is portable light strings. These are electric lights connected along a cable, wire or string. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has tips on how to use them safely:

  • Before stringing the lights, inspect the wiring and fixtures for damage.
  • Ensure the plug has a ground prong – the third prong on the plug – and test it frequently.
  • Don’t string lights near combustible items. The bulbs can get hot. Even if they’re not in direct contact with the combustible items, “heat can build up slowly until the ignition temperature is reached.”
  • All bulbs should have guards installed. “Not only will this help prevent the bulb from coming in direct contact with a combustible, it can also protect you (or someone else) from coming in contact with the bulb and getting burned.”
  • Need to replace a broken bulb on the string? Put on gloves to protect against cuts, and then disconnect the power from the light string before replacing the bulb.
  • Don’t use an ordinary light string in an area that may contain flammable vapors. “When used within an enclosed or confined space, the space must be certified as ‘Safe for Hot Work’ if a conventional string is used. If the atmosphere is not ‘Safe for Hot Work,’ then ‘explosion-proof’ lights must be used.”

McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Holding Violators Accountable

US Department of Labor sues Waukegan contractor who refuses to pay more than $360K in penalties for repeatedly endangering roofing employees

Contractor operating as ECS Roofing Professionals cited 9 times since 2014

Photo: OSHA

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit in federal court to force a Waukegan roofing contractor to pay $360,531 in penalties for repeatedly exposing employees to falls from elevations, the leading cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, the action follows an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission decision on March 6, 2023, that affirmed the citations issued by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after its investigation found that Joshua Herion — operator of ECS Roofing Professionals Inc. — exposed employees to deadly fall hazards at two separate job sites in Illinois and Wisconsin in October 2022.

Specifically, OSHA determined the contractor did not provide employees required fall arrest systems, a safety net or guardrails as they installed siding and roofing materials atop roofs in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and at a job site in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

After OSHA issued citations and fined ECS Roofing $226,530 for the Illinois violations and $134,001 for violations in Wisconsin, the company contested the citations and penalties with the commission. Despite the commission’s decision affirming the penalties in full, Herion has failed to pay the penalties which led the department’s Office of the Solicitor in Chicago to file suit to recover the penalties.

Continue reading “Holding Violators Accountable”

Cut-off saws: Safety do’s and don’ts

Cut-off saws: Safety do’s and don’ts

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Commonly used by construction workers, cut-off saws “can be extremely dangerous because unguarded blades operate at very high speeds,” the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations cautions. The agency has created a list of do’s and don’ts.

DO:

  • Wear safety shoes, fitted clothing, safety glasses, hearing protection and a hard hat while operating the saw.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended blade specifications for materials to be cut.
  • Inspect the cutting blade for warping and damage before startup and clean the air filter.
  • Test newly mounted blades at normal operating speed for 30 seconds, with the guard in place, before beginning use.
  • Keep all parts of your body away from the blade while it’s running.
  • Maintain good balance and footing, using both hands and a firm grip on the handles.
  • Run the saw at full throttle and use the bottom of the blade while cutting.
  • Keep water continuously running on the blade while cutting concrete or asphalt to keep dust concentration below established exposure limits.
  • Ensure the blade doesn’t become pinched in the cut.
  • Run the saw for 30 seconds after finishing a cut to allow water to be thrown off the blade.
  • Use caution when handling fuel. Never add fuel while the saw is running or near an ignition source.

DON’T:

  • Allow bystanders in the work area while you’re using the saw.
  • Cut in the vicinity of anything flammable – most cutting procedures produce sparks.
  • Use the saw without the blade guard in place.
  • Exceed the maximum operating speed marked on the blade.
  • Jam or wedge the blade into a cut.
  • Grind on the side of the blade or cut with the top or front of the blade.
  • Cut dry, except with a blade specifically designated for dry cutting by the manufacturer.
  • Operate a damaged, improperly adjusted or improperly balanced saw.

“Only personnel who have been trained on proper use and handling should be allowed to operate this specialized piece of equipment,” DOLIR says.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication