OSHA seeks to protect underground construction workers, temporary workers

June 2013, Vol. 68, No. 6

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule, effective May 23 that applies the requirements of the August 2010 cranes and derricks in construction standard to demolition work and underground construction. Application of this rule will protect workers from hazards associated with hoisting equipment used during construction activities.

“It is important that construction workers in these sectors receive the same safety protections as other construction workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Extending this rule to demolition and underground construction work will help save lives and prevent injuries.”

This final rule applies the same crane rules to underground construction and demolition that are already being used by other construction sectors, and streamlines OSHA’s standards by eliminating the separate cranes and derricks standard currently used for underground and demolition work. The rule also corrects errors made to the underground construction and demolition standards in the 2010 rulemaking.

In addition, OSHA has launched an initiative to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.

An OSHA memorandum directs field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. Additionally, they will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand.

In recent date released by the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries about workers killed on the job in 2011, fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 – or 12 percent – of the 4,693 fatal work injuries reported. Hispanic/Latino contractors accounted for 28 percent of fatal work injuries among contractors, well above their 16 percent share of the overall fatal work injury total for the year.