Reduce Spread of Coronavirus in Construction with While the world continues to wait for a vaccine for COVID-19, employers will need to remain up to date and vigilant on safety protocols on the jobsite, especially as we head into the winter months.
A study, published on October 29, 2020, by the University of Texas at Austin, found a connection
between construction sites that did not have COVID-19 restrictions in place, and higher hospitalization rates in surrounding areas. The study, based on residents in the Austin-Round Rock metro area, discovered that the risk of coronavirus hospitalization in the construction industry is five times more than other occupations. However, on construction sites where safety measures were in place, including equipment cleaning, protective equipment and limits on worker capacity, transmission risk was decreased by 50%.
As of October 30, 2020, OSHA has cited 144 establishments, with penalties totaling over $2 million
dollars. While the majority of violations are in healthcare and food processing, the construction industry can use this information to better understand what the most frequent citations are.
It is recommended by the CDC and OSHA that employers create a plan to protect employees to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on construction job sites. CPWR has created an Exposure Control Planning Tool that can help employers develop a written plan to help protect employees, keep job sites open, and help prevent delays.
NCCER’s new Find a Center training map lets craft trainees and entry-level workers search over 3,300 locations open to the public. Users can filter by location and specific crafts, such as welding, pipefitting or carpentry, to find training in their area.
For experienced craft professionals looking to take a journey-level assessment, the Find a Center
assessment map provides testing facilities by location or company name. NCCER’s complete series of journey-level written assessments evaluate the knowledge of an individual in a specific craft area and provide a prescription for upgrade training when needed. Check out the map and view a directory of accredited organizations.
Fifth Annual Industry Forum on Personnel Qualifications Rescheduled- OSHA Director Ketcham to Keynote at Virtual Event
Fairfax, VA, September 1, 2020 – The Fifth Annual Industry Forum on Personnel Qualifications has been rescheduled for Thursday, October 29, 2020 as a virtual event, the NCCCO Foundation has announced. As previously reported, Scott Ketcham, Director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, will once again provide the keynote address and participate in a Q&A session that will conclude the conference.
The Forum will build on the success of previous events and focus on the latest developments in regulations and best industry practices as they pertain to the qualifications of personnel working in, with, and around cranes and other types of lifting equipment. “In light of the imminent publication of OSHA’s Compliance Directive, we anticipate the session on the Foundation’s newly-published Most Similar Certifications Directory to be highly popular,” said NCCCO Foundation CEO, Graham Brent.
Other sessions will focus on who’s responsible for what on jobsites, why certification is so important for riggers, signalpersons, lift directors and others even when it may not be required, what’s “bubbling under” with new B30 standards, and what new certification programs are being developed.
The last Forum was held in Crosby, Texas in October 2019 and attracted a record attendance of more than 100 industry representatives from all facets of the lifting industry. A survey of attendees’ experience was highly positive. “Response to the last Forum was exceptional,” said Brent, “with fully 94% of delegates rating the event as meeting or exceeding their expectations.”
“It’s not every day that you get access to those, like OSHA Director Ketcham, who are on the front lines of regulatory issues,” said Brent, “which is why the question-and-answer panel discussion proved so popular last time and while we will be reprising it again this time around.”
“We pack a lot into a four-hour window. With a dozen or so separate presentations, we ensure there’s always something for everyone,” he added.
There is no charge to attend the Forum, but registration is required here.
The NCCCO Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to the promotion of construction industry safety through three major pathways: education, research and workforce development. By facilitating access to training and certification by youth, veterans and underserved communities through scholarships and grants, the Foundation seeks to ensure a safe and skilled workforce now and for the future.
2020 National Safety Stand-Down September 14-18
Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction
employees, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
Addressing falls in construction is the reason why each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) holds a National Safety Stand-Down to prevent Falls in the Construction industry. OSHA encourages employers to take a break to focus on safety concerns surrounding falls from elevation. Stand-down events provide employers and workers the opportunity to talk about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety and health programs, goals, and expectations.
Last year, thousands of worksites participated in the campaign and the Stand-Down event reached over a million workers. OSHA invites employers to dedicate themselves yet again to the safety of their most valuable resource: their workers.
OSHA’s Stand-Down webpage offers information on conducting a successful event, and educational resources. Employers are encouraged to provide feedback after their events, and to obtain a personalized certificate of participation.
The National Safety Stand-Down is a joint effort between OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.
To learn how you can participate in the Stand-Down, visit www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown.
Despite a major push for broad infrastructure funding in the U.S. House of Representatives, recent
disruptions to the U.S. economy will extend the current recession possibly into 2021. Fallout from
COVID-19, financial and equity market volatility, Federal Reserve emergency policies, and lower oil
prices are contributing to the uncertainty, FMI reports in its second-quarter Outlook.
“Based on the speed, breadth, and apparent lasting impacts of these various factors,” FMI is anticipating the current recession to continue through the remainder of 2020 and possibly into 2021, according to the report. Other factors include the uncertainty of the 2020 presidential election and social unrest.
“Depth and reach of these disruptions will remain under close watch,” stated the consulting firm.
Amid the uncertainty, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act, an infrastructure bill that would earmark funds for surface transportation, airport, school, housing, healthcare, energy, water, and broadband coverage. “However it also includes numerous anti-merit shop provisions opposed by Associated Builders and Contractors,” reports the organization.
“By requiring anti-competitive provisions, such as government-mandated project labor agreements and inflationary Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, this bill will dissuade contractors from bidding on projects, drive up overall costs and exclude the overwhelming majority of America’s construction industry professionals who choose not to join a union,” maintains the ABC.
These measures would also have a devastating impact on small construction businesses that are seeking to recover from the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, ABC believes: “The path forward on repairing our nation’s infrastructure should be rooted in fair and open competition and equal opportunity, not policies that favor big labor and costly, ineffective federal mandates.”
Other issues cloud the construction industry’s economic outlook. Nonresidential construction spending declined 0.9 percent in May, based on U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by ABC. On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, spending totaled $812.5 billion for the month, according to ABC. Private nonresidential spending declined 2.4 percent in May and public nonresidential construction spending increased 1.2 percent.
However, the Associated General Contractors reports that construction activity returned to pre-
coronavirus levels in 34 states, based on data on workers’ hours analyzed by Procore. An association survey found that only 8 percent of construction firms were forced to furlough or lay off workers in June while 21 percent report adding employees, compared to one-in-four firms letting workers go between March and May.
“But it is important to remember that construction activity typically increases quite a bit between March 1 and the end of May as the weather improves and more work gets underway,” Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, commented. “Getting to March 1 levels is a sign of progress, but it doesn’t mean things are back to normal.”
Simonson added that the data show the severe toll the pandemic took on the construction industry. For example, 61 percent of firms report having had at least one project halted or canceled because of the pandemic. One in four firms report that construction materials shortages, caused by lock downs and trade disruptions, are causing delays on current projects. Meanwhile, the Procore data found that smaller firms experienced more severe declines in construction activity during the pandemic than larger firms.
AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson
AGC Survey June 18
Procore Construction Activity Index
ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu
FMI Construction Forecast
Two recent reports assess the occupational risks of the Coronavirus in construction as compared to other industries. Cody Charland, in a blog post for Safran Law Offices, Raleigh, N.C., reports that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services found that “construction workers were listed in the third quartile for physical proximity to others (Avg. 62.3), yet first quartile for exposure to diseases (Avg. 8.3).” Another study by the World Economic Forum ranked construction above the average risk for contact with others, physical proximity, and exposure.
Though outdoor construction work offers natural advantages in preventing the spread of coronavirus, precautions still should be taken. Points of transmission which could cause present and future outbreaks remain, including shared tools, as well as common spaces such as outdoor toilets, job site trailers, and work vehicles.
According to Jordan Hollingsworth, Field Operations Manager, in a blog post for Safety Management Group, “Construction projects must develop and implement a Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan consistent with best practices. Every construction project involves unique characteristics and circumstances, so what is appropriate and feasible for each project may be different.”
While the CDC offers construction-specific guidelines, Hollingsworth shared some additional insight. Tailgate safety meetings, for example, should follow CDC guidelines limiting the number of people to 10 or should be executed via video briefings.
Charland also suggests monitoring site logistics. Deliveries should be planned with contact and cleaning protocols, choke points should be identified and barriers installed to limit physical access, and community food areas, like coffeepots and water dispensers, should be eliminated.
“Shared tools should be eliminated wherever possible and all tools should be cleaned regularly. Any
shared equipment (including tools and vehicles) should be disinfected before and after each use, with disinfectant wipes readily available,” says Charland, who also recommends aerial lifts be used by just one person at a time, unless additional PPE is worn.
The CDC reminds construction workers that cloth face coverings are NOT appropriate substitutes where masks or respirators are recommended or required. Cleaning and disinfecting should be done at the beginning and end of every shift and after anyone uses your vehicle, tools, or workstation. Employers should provide soap, clean running water, and materials for drying hands, or alcohol-based hand sanitizers at multiple stations, and install temporary or mobile handwashing stations with single-use paper towels, or provide a large (5+ gallon) bucket with a lid and tap for handwashing. Regularly clean and disinfect the tap and provide fresh clean water daily.
Finally, an article from EHS Today notes, “Few of the guidance documents tell you how to select or use disinfecting chemicals and methods.” The article by Neal Langerman with Advanced Chemical Safety attempts to fill that gap.
How Construction Compares to Other Industries with Coronavirus from Safran Law Offices
Best Construction Safety Practices for COVID-19 from Safety Management Group
What Construction Workers Need to Know about COVID-19 from CDC
Sanitizing and Disinfecting Your Business During the Pandemic from EHS Today
The Steel Joist Institute (SJI) has released Version 2.0 of its Joist Girder Moment Connections. The new downloadable version includes updates to the AISC’s 2016 specifications for most spreadsheets. In the new version, SJI also revised reference manuals to make them easier to follow.
Other updates include spreadsheets that are corrected and matched to each reference manual example, and figures that have been reviewed and modified for consistency, along with new notes and clarifying dimensions.
SJI’s Design Tools include Joist Girder Moment Connections to the Strong Axis of Wide Flange Columns; Strong Axis of Wide Flange Columns-Intermediate Levels; Weak Axis of Wide Flange Columns; HSS Columns – Top Plate; HSS Columns – Knife Plates; and Wide Flange Columns – Knife Plates.
“The tools were developed to assist the Structural Engineer of Record, the connection designer, and the steel fabricator with the complex task of designing appropriate connections between joist girders and columns,” according to SJI’s website. The tool can be downloaded at steeljoist.org, and once in your cart, allows you access to the Joist Girder Moment Connection Design Tools.
OSHA has postponed the 7th annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, originally scheduled for May, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will be rescheduled this summer, but OSHA urges vigilance on the jobsite.
Because falls remain the leading cause of fatal injuries to construction workers, while the National
Stand-Down is postponed OSHA encourages employers to use all available resources for worker safety. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.
OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.