Construction Safety in 2021
In the construction industry, there are inherent risks for workers, even on the safest of job sites. Supervisors and safety personnel must be vigilant in their efforts to identify and mitigate potentially dangerous situations.
Hazards can arise on any job site. It is critical, as professionals in this industry, we work hard to make sure our businesses are prepared for a range of threats, from struck-by accidents and falls to weather-related disasters and human errors. Worker safety is, and should always be, number one.
Here are a few safety updates to be aware of in 2021:
OSHA raises penalty maximums, establishes new debt collection procedures.
OSHA has raised its maximum civil penalty amounts for 2021 according to the rate of inflation. The new penalties went into effect Jan. 16.
The maximum federal penalty for serious and other-than-serious violations is now $13,653 per violation, up from $13,494. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations is now $136,532 per violation, up from $134,937.
OSHA increased its monetary penalties by more than 80% in August 2016 in order to reflect cost-of-living increases since 1990, the last time the penalties had been raised. Since 2017, OSHA has adjusted the fines according to the Cost of Living Index every year.
President Biden names workplace safety expert to COVID-19 task force.
In a move heralded as a win for workplace safety, President Joe Biden added a prominent workplace health expert to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.
Dr. David Michaels is an epidemiologist and professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health in Washington, D.C. He served as assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health from 2009 to January 2017, the longest serving administrator in OSHA’s history. Much of his research focuses on protecting the integrity of the science underpinning public health, safety and environmental protections, according to the announcement.
The appointment comes after the nonprofit National Safety Council urged Biden to include a workplace safety expert on the task force, saying that having a workplace safety voice at the table alongside medical and health professionals is critical to combating the coronavirus crisis.
Researchers creating wearable, color-changing stickers to detect COVID-19.
In what could have major ramifications for workers in a host of industries including construction, researchers at the University of California San Diego are developing a color-changing test strip that can be stuck on a mask and used to detect COVID-19 in a user’s breath or saliva.
The project, which received $1.3 million from the National Institutes of Health, is aimed at providing simple, affordable and reliable surveillance for COVID-19 infections that can be done daily and easily implemented in resource-poor settings such as construction sites, according to a news release.
The test strips, or stickers, will be designed to adhere to any type of mask, and will detect the presence of protein-cleaving molecules, called proteases, that are produced from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
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