BCTD President: Construction Industry Needs Dedicated OSHA Agency

The recent number of construction fatalities around the nation is tetament to the need for the establishment of a dedicated OSHA agency specifically for construction, said Mark H. Ayers, president of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, testifying on Tuesday before the House Education and Labor Committee.

"Few people understand that, on average, four workers are killed every day on U.S. construction sites," Ayers said. Appearing at a hearing to discern if OSHA was adequately enforcing construction safety measures, Ayers addressed the recent wave of deaths in Las Vegas, Nev.--totaling 17 in the past 12 months--along with the increased incidents of construction crane accidents nationwide. Regarding the Las Vegas fatalities, Ayers said, "Mr. Chairman, I submit that if--God forbid--17 police officers had perished in the line of duty, we would see the National Guard patrolling the streets of Las Vegas. And if two miners became trapped in an underground mine accident, television networks would interrupt their regular programming for live coverage of the rescue effort. Disturbingly, it seems as if America's construction workers are viewed as disposable commodities. It is an absolute outrage, and it is something I take very personally."

In addition to the recommendation for a new office of construction safety within OSHA, Ayers said BCTD had four other recommendations for improving safety on U.S. construction sites:

  • An OSHA temporary emergency standard requiring that all workers in the industry be trained and certified in accordance with the basic 10-hour OSHA safety and health training program.
  • Immediate promulgation of an OSHA crane safety standard.
  • Stepped-up OSHA jobsite enforcement activities.
  • Increased funding for construction safety and health research under NIOSH.

BCTD (www.bctd.org) is an alliance of 13 national and international unions that collectively represent 2.5 million skilled craft workers in the United States and Canada.

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