www.agc.org • April 2016  

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AGC of America, working closely with the Louisiana AGC chapter, has taken an important legal step in reaction to the Obama administration's recently released silica rule. On Monday, April 4, 2016, the Louisiana AGC filed a challenge to OSHA's final respirable crystalline silican rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In doing so, the chapter joined a number of local industry partners who are also concerned about the impact of the rule on the construction industry.

"Our members are deeply committed to taking every possible step to reducing silica exposure on your worksites," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the national association’s chief executive officer.  "However, we have significant concerns about whether this new rule is technically feasible, given that the agency’s final permissible exposure limit is beyond the capacity of existing dust filtration and removal technology."

Sandherr added that while the administration did make a number of the changes to the final rule, including dropping requirements for contractors to establish regulated areas that would block access to parts of construction sites where dust is being generated, the association continues to feel that this final rule is not acceptable.  

He added that the association has long urged federal officials to craft measures that would allow the roughly 25 percent of firms not meeting the prior standard to comply.  Given the tremendous reductions in silicosis within the construction industry that has taken place since that standard was put in place, even more lives could be saved by getting greater compliance with that standard, the association executive noted.

Filing the petition today starts what is likely to be a lengthy legal challenge to this measure, Sandherr added. But he cautioned that as flawed as the new Silica rule is, victory in court is far from certain.  That is why he said the association would continue to work with Congress and the next presidential administration to seek measures to improve this flawed rule in a way that truly benefits the health and safety of our workforce.
AGC annually participates in National Work Zone Awareness Week to highlight the dangers that drivers not obeying speed limits or not staying alert in highway construction work zones pose for construction workers and motorists. This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week will take place April 11-15, 2016, with the theme "Don't Be THAT Driver: Work on Safety. Get Home Safely. Every Day." AGC will participate in a national event at a highway construction project in Toledo, Ohio on April 12 as part of the effort to make the public aware of the dangers. AGC chapters around the country participate in local and statewide events as well.

To get a better handle on the impact of vehicle crashes at AGC member work sites, we have prepared this brief survey. Please take a few minutes to complete it today. The deadline to complete this survey is Friday, April 15.
Regulatory & Legislative Updates
OSHA will hold a special meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) to discuss a draft construction version of the agency’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. The meeting will be held April 25-26, 2016, in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes remarks from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, drafting the construction version of the SHPM Guidelines, and a public comment period.

ACCSH will meet from 1 – 5 p.m., Monday, April 25 and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 26. Both meetings will be held in Room N-3437 A-C, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210.

The meetings are open to the public. Persons interested in submitting written comments or requests to speak may do so electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, using Docket No. OSHA-2016-0009. Submissions will also be accepted via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments and requests to speak are due by April 15, 2016. The committee, established under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, advises the secretary of labor and assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on construction standards and policy matters. 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.
OSHA has published a final rule that updates requirements for personal protective equipment for workers in general industry, shipyards, longshoring, marine terminals and construction. The final rule reflects current national consensus standards, and ensures that workers can use up-to-date eye and face protection. The rule updates references in OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection Standards to recognize the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, while deleting the outdated 1986 edition of that same national consensus standard. OSHA is also retaining the 2003 and 1989 (R-1998) versions of the ANSI standard already referenced in its standard. In addition, the final rule updates the construction standard by deleting the 1968 version of the ANSI standard that was referenced and now includes the same three ANSI standards referenced above to ensure consistency among the agency's standards. OSHA’s final rule becomes effective on April 25, 2016. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Third Annual National Safety Stand Down 
May 2-6, 2016

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Center for Construction Research and Training will hold the third annual National Safety Stand-Down May 2-6, 2016, to raise awareness of the serious risk of falls in the workplace. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by OSHA. More than 4 million workers have participated in the last two years, dedicating themselves to on-the-job safety. This year the stand-down will highlight the safe use of ladders and encourage employers to pause during their workday for topic talks, demonstrations and training on how to prevent falls. For more information on the success of last year's stand-down, see the final data report. Visit the 2016 National Safety Stand-Down webpage for more updates.
Advanced Safety Training Management Course
June 1-3, 2016

Arlington, Virginia
The AGC Advanced Safety Management Training Course (ASMTC) provides attendees three days of training on the basic skills needed to manage a company safety program in the construction industry. The program builds on Focus Four training and prepares attendees to manage key safety issues on the job site and provides techniques for delivering basic safety training to field personnel. Participants will receive intensive instruction and training that will allow them to return to their firms with readily applicable new skills to positively impact their company’s safety and health program. Click here to register.
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Chapter News
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In 2014, over 300 construction workers died as a result of a fall at work. These deaths are preventable with the proper use of fall prevention and fall protection. Congratulations to the AGC’s Western Pennsylvania Building Chapter, the Master Builders Association (MBA), for taking fall protection training to the modern day and using an app to train anyone with a smartphone or tablet.  Titled Harness Hero, it’s not just a game but an innovative approach to saving lives in the construction industry. This gaming app will enhance the way AGC members deliver fall protection training and it will be available for download through the Google Play Store, Amazon Under Ground, and Apple iTunes by this year’s OSHA National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction Week, May 2-6, 2016.  For more information on how to become a Harness Hero, visit Harness Hero or contact the MBA Safety Director Bob McCall at 412-922-3912 or bob.mccall@mbawpa.org
Best Practices

As many of you can attest, the economic recovery has continued to keep backlogs flush, but that has only heightened the need to find and retain skilled workers. The construction industry has some unique challenges in finding and retaining enough qualified candidates to fill all available positions. If you’re fortunate to find a skilled candidate, the process cannot stop there. After hiring, it is important that you have a structured onboarding process to train new people on safe work practices for the types of hazards they will encounter on the project and to properly acclimate them to the desired safety culture. This is the only way to keep a safety culture intact.

A new hire’s first impression of a company can set the stage for the rest of their employment. A company with a structured, well-executed onboarding program conveys it is well- run, values its employees, and expects its employees to work safely as a condition of employment. A company that lacks or has a poorly structured onboarding program conveys it is disorganized and indifferent to employee safety.

As backlogs boom, maintaining a successful onboarding process is increasingly critical to not only efficiently complete projects, but also manage risk. The most effective programs will:

It is often said that people are our greatest asset. Let’s take that a step further because it is more than just hiring people. It is about hiring and retaining the right people that are physically capable of performing tasks on a continuous basis, placing those people in the proper position within your organization, training them to perform assigned tasks safely, and motivating them to be successful.

The Construction Industry Institute (CII) reports that "contractors with employee retention rates of 80 percent or higher realize increased job profits, complete more projects on time or ahead of schedule, and have better project safety performance."

It is important to discuss company values and goals with each new hire to establish expectations for continued employment. Our most successful clients have safety as a core value. When you review core values, emphasize the company’s commitment to a safe work environment and expectations regarding safety — this sends a powerful message to any new hire.

Managers should take the time to meet weekly with new employees during their probationary period to answer questions and show interest in the new hire’s employment.

Spend the time to thoroughly review your organization’s policies and procedures. Employees must know company requirements and expectations regarding substance abuse, work hours, appearance, workplace discrimination, treatment of others, employment accountability, etc. Include client expectations in the discussion if a new employee is reporting directly to a job site.

An employee handbook is helpful to a new hire. It provides workplace guidelines and the employee can refer back to it as a resource document. Have the employee sign a document that acknowledges company policies and procedures have been explained to them.

The safety orientation process is the company’s first opportunity to review safety expectations and procedures in detail. The orientation should take place prior to a new employee working on site. The safety orientation should not be rushed; you need to detail behavior expectations, workplace safety requirements, and emergency procedures.

The safety orientation should not be the end of a new hire’s safety training. Employees should receive hazard-specific safety training prior to being asked to perform a task. The hazard safety training must meet OSHA’s requirements, but it is important that the task training include safe work procedures established by the company. The safe work procedures may exceed minimum OSHA requirements.

It is beneficial to utilize one of your high-performing employees as a mentor. The mentor can help the new hire become comfortable on the job and answer questions. We also recommend that new hires be identified by the color of their hard hats. If a company has a specific color or logo on their hard hat, the new hire has to earn the hard hat with the logo by showing their commitment to safety. We suggest letting the mentor and the manager on site be the judge of the new hire’s commitment to safety.

If permitted, establish a probationary period. A 90-day probationary period gives both you and the new hire time to see whether or not you’re truly a good fit for each other. Of course, some new hires may not make it through the probationary period. Do not be afraid to terminate employment for cause if you feel the employee is going to injure themselves or others by using unsafe work practices or not showing up to work.

Create and maintain a file of a simple checklist to make sure that no steps were missed in the onboarding process.

Hiring the right workers for the right positions at the right times requires consistent attention to all of the above tactics. But it’s a smart investment because by following these protocols, you can cultivate a more skilled workforce that upholds a commitment to safety. As a result, you will reduce the frequency and severity of claims over time and that will ultimately reduce insurance premiums.

Mark J. Troxell, ARM is vice president of safety services at The Graham Company, a member of multiple AGC chapters. With over 28 years of safety and loss control experience, Mark is responsible for overall direction of the firm’s Safety Division and providing safety consultation to construction and maritime clients. He can be reached at mtroxell@grahamco.com. Follow Graham on Twitter @TheGrahamCo or follow the firm’s Risk Matters blog for the latest insights.

Shane Riccio is a producer at The Graham Company. As a producer, Riccio focuses on business development for the firm’s Construction Division. He specializes in creating risk management programs for large privately held companies with complex operations and demanding insurance needs. He can reached at sriccio@grahamco.com. Follow Graham on Twitter @TheGrahamCo or follow the firm’s Risk Matters blog for the latest insights.

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