OSHA Virtual Memorial Wall Honors Fallen Workers


OSHA encourages individuals to share photographs of loved ones lost due to a work-related incident on the agency’s virtual Workers Memorial Wall.

The page, located at https://www.osha.gov/workers-memorial, was developed in partnership with the United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities.

Close-up photos of the faces of individuals who lost their lives while working in construction activities can be accessed via the virtual memorial. Tonya Ford, U.S. Dept. of Labor and OSHA family liaison, says she, too, lost someone dear to her due to a work incident in 2009.

Also at https://www.osha.gov/workers-memorial, OSHA offers a PDF version of its 2023 resource, “Losing A Loved One on the Job,” in English and Spanish.

In OSHA Region 7 (Missouri), the agency’s regional office, 816,283,8745, offers additional support to families grieving such a loss. In OSHA Region 5 (Illinois), that number is 312.353.2220.

More resources and information can be found at www.usmwf.org.

Contractors Continue Safety Transition from Hard Hats to Helmets

Contractors Continue Safety Transition from Hard Hats to Helmets

By KERRY SMITH, St. Louis Construction News and Review Magazine

Although OSHA regulations do not yet mandate it, a growing number of commercial contractors are making the transition from hard hats to helmets as an investment in heightened jobsite safety.

McCarthyHoldings,Inc. is preparing to complete the transition from standard hard hats to helmets for all trade partners on the firm’s construction sites. This comes as an extension to McCarthy’s 2022 transition to helmets for its more than 6,000 salaried and craft employees. The contractor’s proactive decision is expected to significantly reduce the impact and lessen the frequency of future injuries and accidents. On July 1, McCarthy will begin requiring all trade partners to wear helmets.

Clayco’s subsidiary, Concrete Strategies, is continuing a pilot effort it began in the spring of 2021 is doing a pilot to replace hard hats with helmets in the field. 

Trade associations are also following suit. The American Society of Concrete Contractors – the nation’s nonprofit association for cast-in-place concrete contractors – says momentum is gaining nationally to replace traditional hard hats with helmets.

From a cost standpoint, the expenditure is approximately 10 times more. Contractor helmets range from $100 to $125 apiece, compared with hard hats which cost $10 to $15 each. But the long-term safety benefits are clear, according to OSHA’s Scott Ketcham, who oversees the agency’s Directorate of Construction.

“Helmets attach more closely to the head with built-in chin straps and have little to no brim around the edge,” Ketcham said. “There is protective padding inside the helmet as well. Hard hats protect against injury from falling objects, but helmets also protect against blows from the side. They are more likely to remain in place during falls, trips and slips.”

Over time, the hard hat’s polyethylene shells are subject to weakening from substances such as paints, paint thinners and some cleaning agents, he added. While hard hats are tested to withstand a force of 1,000 pounds – equivalent to an eight-pound ball dropped from a height of five feet onto the top of the hard hat – construction safety helmets protect against greater impact from above and from the side, according to OSHA.

Helmets also offer workers increased protection from electrocution and noise.

In 2017, Clark Construction became one of the first contractors to require employees to wear helmets instead of hard hats. An increase in falls and traumatic brain injuries prompted the company to make the switch.

OSHA Tightening Trenching Standards Amidst Fatality Increases in 2022


The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announces enhanced enforcement amidst a dramatic increase in U.S. trench-related fatalities during 2022.

During the first half of 2022, according to OSHA, more workers have died in trenching and excavation work than during all of 2021.

A total of 22 workers lost their lives in trenching and excavation work from January through June of this year, surpassing a total of 15 deaths during all 12 months of last year.

In keeping with its National Emphasis Program for excavations, OSHA compliance officers will perform more than 1,000 trench inspections on jobsites across the country before 2022 has concluded, according to Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.

“OSHA is calling on all employers engaged in trenching and excavation activities to act immediately to ensure that required protections are fully in place every single time their employees step down into or work near a trench,” Parker said. “In a matter of seconds, workers can be crushed and buried under thousands of pounds of soil and rocks in an unsafe trench. The alarming increase in the number of workers needlessly dying and suffering serious injuries in trenching accidents must be stopped.”

Parker cited a recent double tragedy in Central Texas in late June wherein two workers aged 20 and 39 were killed when the unprotected trench more than 20 feet deep collapsed upon them as they worked. Trench shields, which could have saved their lives, Parker said, sat unused beside the excavation site.

“By some estimates, one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds,” he said, “which is equal to the weight of a compact car.”

A Blue Springs, MO contractor is facing nearly $800,000 in OSHA fines for repeated trenching and other safety violations. OSHA’s trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than five feet. Soil and other materials must be kept at least two feet from the edge of a trench.

In addition to increased site inspections, OSHA is offering employers its On-Site Consultation Program, a free and confidential resource to assist them in developing strategic approaches for addressing trench-related illnesses and injuries in workplaces.

For more information, call 800-321-OSHA or go to https://www.osha.gov/Consultation.

OSHA Renews Strategic Electrical Partnership to Heighten High-Voltage Lineworker Safety



The St. Louis and Missouri Valley Chapters of NECA – the National Electrical Contractors Association – applaud OSHA’s decision to renew a national partnership with industry stakeholders to support best practices to underscore safety for electrical workers who build and repair high-voltage electrical lines.

On Oct. 30, OSHA officially renewed the Electrical Transmission & Distribution Partnership, which began in 2004 with a few stakeholder organizations and today includes 17 major electrical industry players from the private sector. It is the only national partnership between employers and OSHA, according to the agency.

Mitch Marquardt, a Sachs Electric retiree and industry consultant who represents NECA in the partnership, says that before the consortium launched 14 years ago, OSHA conducted a survey of lineman from across the U.S. to identify areas where updated training was most needed. OSHA also held live discussions with lineman from coast to coast, ascertaining specific areas of their jobs where they found themselves most at risk for serious injury or fatality.

“Over the years, the partnership and OSHA have worked in tandem to tweak best practices and stay current with the best training possible,” Marquardt said. “And in partnership with OSHA, we’ve developed additional lineman safety training courses such as the 10-hour and 20-hour programs on safety in line construction. The 20-hour includes emphasis on supervisory and leadership skills.”

The partnership has also developed an app that lineman can easily access from their smartphones, one that outlines a procedural safety checklist and reminders for those working to restore electrical power in emergency and non-emergency scenarios.

“One of the practical resources the app provided during Hurricane Michael in October were safety-related push notices,” Marquardt said.

Asplundh Tree Expert LLC Chairman and CEO Scott Asplundh, who is serving as chairman of the partnership’s executive committee, says the entity has made great strides in improving safety in the industry. “The renewal of this partnership for another five years is an opportunity to continue making improvements to our practices to keep people safe,” he said. “This collaboration among industry stakeholders is making a real impact for lineworkers across the country. Due to the best practices and training materials developed under our agreement, millions of workers have benefitted.”

In addition to OSHA, NECA and Asplundh Tree Expert, members of the ET&D Partnership include: Aldridge Electric, Davis H. Elliot Co., Edison Electric Institute, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, The Goldfield Corp., Henkels & McCoy Group, MasTec, MDU Construction Services Group, Michels Corp., MYR Group, PLH Group, Pike Electric and Quanta Services. For more information about the partnership, visit www.powerlinesafety.org

PARIC and OSHA Cement First Large-Scale Project Safety Partnership



PARIC Corp. is among a bevy of construction managers across St. Louis to cement project safety partnerships with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

PARIC Safety Director Shannon Niles says for five years now, the construction company has joined with more than a dozen Missouri-based commercial contractors in partnerships with OSHA on all sizes of projects throughout the state.

But the newest project partnership, forged in mid-2018, is the first large-scale agreement PARIC has signed with OSHA to govern a project as large in scope as Ballpark Village. The worker safety partnership covers safety-related aspects of all ongoing Ballpark Village projects in downtown St. Louis, for which PARIC serves as general contractor. The four construction projects connected with Ballpark Village span 550,000 square feet of construction including residential, office, retail, restaurant, hotel and entertainment space adjacent to Busch Stadium.

“This strategic partnership with OSHA is unique to Ballpark Village and unique to PARIC as well,” Niles said. “Projects that are longer than two years in duration are eligible for this voluntarily agreement with OSHA. This partnership agreement brings the owner (The Cordish Companies), the building trades (Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity, Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council, Building and Construction Trades) and other parties together in striving to create the safest workplace possible.”

PARIC and OSHA negotiated contract particulars, signing the agreement in May. Niles says the scope of the partnership agreement requires project partners to go above and beyond standard safety regulations as stipulated by OSHA.

“We’re committing to meeting and exceeding all OSHA safety regulations, while also inviting OSHA onto the Ballpark Village construction site anytime with a minimum of once per quarter,” Niles said. “In addition, we’ve agreed to keep our safety-related worker statistics – such as the project’s lost-time incident rates, DART (days away, restricted or transferred) rates and TRIR (total recordable incident rates) – below the national average. This partnership with OSHA also includes our commitment to perform training for our employees and subcontractors beyond what is normally required by OSHA,” he said. “We’ve agreed in writing to do whatever it takes to keep every worker as safe as possible in building Ballpark Village.”

Photo Above (L to R) Rallo Sr., Senior Vice President, PARIC , John Stiffler, Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Building & Construction Trades, Nate Moore, Sr Project Manager, PARIC, Charlie Lee, Cordish Company Inc., Shannon Niles, Safety Director, PARIC, William McDonald, Area Director of OSHA, Gary Elliot, Business Manager, Special International Representative, Barry Stelzer, Safety Director/Trainer, Carpenters Regional Council, Tim Vaughan, Project Director, PARIC

OSHA To Review New Silica Protection Rules For Contractors At 2018 Investment In Infrastructure Expo


Officials from the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) will review the organization’s new final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica at the SITE Improvement Association’s Investment in Infrastructure Expo on February 27 in St. Charles. It is one of several rules and regulations OSHA will review with attendees to Expo.  The federal safety agency estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. St. Louis area contractors are invited to attend and learn about the rule’s key provisions and how to protect their workers.

“Millions of workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking,” said Terry Briggs, Executive director of SITE.  “Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.  This presentation provides an excellent opportunity for local contractors to learn first-hand how these new regulations might affect their operations and their workforce.”

The 2018 Expo will be held at the St. Charles Convention Center and feature an afternoon of breakout sessions describing upcoming projects, an annual economic outlook for the local construction industry, an exhibit hall filled with industry vendors and a reception for all attendees, buyers and vendors. Last year’s event attracted more than 350 attendees and 50 vendors.  Tickets for attendees, which will include appetizers and drinks at the reception in the exhibit hall, are $30.  Sponsorship opportunities in the exhibit hall are available for equipment dealers and suppliers, as well as for construction, architecture, engineering and other professional services firms. Booth space has sold out. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sitestl.org.

SITE is an independent construction contractor group representing more than 200 contractors and businesses primarily in the concrete, earthmoving, landscaping, asphalt paving, highway/bridge, sewer/utility and specialty construction segments.  It represents the interests of its members in negotiations with labor unions, promotes political and legislative agendas and provides safety and technical training for members. SITE has been in continuous operation since 1966.  For more information, visit www.sitestl.org.

OSHA, American Chemistry Council Sign Alliance to Protect Workers from Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) established a two-year alliance [ https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/acc/acc.html ] recently to raise awareness of how workers are exposed to diisocyantes, and promote safe practices for their use in the polyurethane industry.

Isocyanates [ https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/isocyanates/index.html ] are raw materials used to make polyurethane products, such as insulation, car seats, foam mattresses, shoes, and adhesives. Exposure to isocyanates can cause irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. More serious health effects include asthma and other lung problems.

The alliance calls for the creation of a web-based training program on the safe use of chemicals and the potential routes of exposure to users. It will also develop guidance on medical surveillance and clinical evaluation techniques for employers and workers using the chemicals. The agreement also calls for best practices seminars on health and safety procedures for OSHA, On-Site Consultation, and State Plan staff.

OSHAs new alliance with ACC will help ensure that employers and employees who work with the identified chemicals better understand the health hazards associated with these potentially hazardous chemicals, and the methods to control employee exposures, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.

The ACC comprises the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), and the Diisocyanates and Aliphatic Diisocyanates panels. Members of these groups include manufacturers and distributors of chemicals and equipment used to make polyurethane. CPI serves as the voice of the polyurethanes industry, covering more than 220,000 workers nationwide.

Through its Alliance Program [ https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html ], OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.OSHAs role is to ensure these conditions for Americas working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov [ http://www.osha.gov/ ].

OSHA Issues Proposed Rule to Extend Compliance Deadline for Crane Operator Certification Requirements


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [ https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-08-30/pdf/2017-18441.pdf ] to extend the employer’s responsibility to ensure crane operator competency and enforcement for crane operator certification to Nov. 10, 2018.

OSHA issued a final rule in September 2014, extending the deadline by three years for crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The final rule also extended by three years the employer’s responsibility to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely.

The agency is now proposing an extension of the enforcement date to address stakeholder concerns over the operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

Comments may submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov [ http://www.regulations.gov/ ], the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice [ https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-08-30/pdf/2017-18441.pdf ] for submission details and additional information about this proposed rule. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 29, 2017.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.OSHAs role is to ensure these conditions for Americas working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov [ http://www.osha.gov/ ].

OSHA to Hold Second Public Meeting to Solicit Suggestions for Growing, Strengthening Voluntary Protection Programs


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold the second of two meetings Aug. 28, 2017, in New Orleans, LA, to continue the discussion on the future direction of the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The discussion will include a review of the July 17, 2017, meeting along with comments and suggestions from the public on potential avenues for action.

OSHA is seeking to reshape VPP so that it continues to represent safety and health excellence, leverages partner resources, further recognizes the successes of long-term participants, and supports smart program growth. OSHA invites stakeholders to provide new ideas on three broad categories which include:

  • Overall VPP process and flow;
  • Corporate/long-term participant involvement; and
  • Special Government Employee activities.

The meeting will be held Aug. 28, 1 to 4 p.m. in Great Hall B of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. To attend, please register by Aug. 23, 2017. Attendees can choose from several levels of participation in the discussion, which will cover general guidelines and key issues that were raised in public comments. The comment period closes Sept. 15, 2017.

OSHA adopted the VPP on July 2, 1982; the program emphasizes cooperative action among government, industry, and labor to address worker safety and health issues and expand worker protection.

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 ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Trench Safety Collapsed in 2016

Death and injury from mishaps in trenches spiked this year after a multi-year downward trend. More construction workers died in trenches this year than in any of the previous five years.

“Trench deaths have more than doubled nationwide since last year – an alarming and unacceptable trend that must be halted,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “There is no excuse. These fatalities are completely preventable by complying with OSHA standards that every construction contractor should know.”

Nationwide, 23 workers were killed by collapsing trenches this year, compared to 11 killed in 2015. Another 12 workers suffered injury. Trench collapses injured three workers in metro St. Louis so far this year.

According to news reports, the St. John Fire Department responded to a report of a trench collapse at an MSD construction site in north St. Louis County on April 14. They pulled a worker out of a trench, after which she was taken to a hospital with non-life injuries.

On May 3, St. Louis firefighters rescued a man from an 18-foot-deep trench in St. south Louis after a collapse trapped him for almost five hours.

And on July 15, St. Louis firefighters rescued a construction worker from a 20-foot-deep trench on another MSD construction site after mud and dirt buried him up to his waist. He was trapped for an hour.

In a sense, all three of those workers were lucky. According to OSHA, trench collapses are rarely survivable. One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 lbs. – the weight of a small automobile – giving a worker in a trench little chance of survival when walls of soil collapse.