- Health and safety in the construction industry covers both plant and machinery, as well as employees, subcontractors, members of the public, utility companies etc.
- The ACCSH comes under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor.
- Another major area of concern in health and safety is about the rise in opioid addiction and suicide rates in construction industry workers.
Government bodies often get a bad press, often with some justification, but more often without realising the really important role they perform in different ways.
The ACCSH is very definitely such a body. It stands for the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, and plays a crucial role in setting standards that relate to health and safety in the construction industry in the US.
The construction industry, by its very nature, covers huge areas of work that need to be regulated and controlled in order to keep workers safe, and employers focused on the realities of the risks inherent in the industry.
Health and safety in the construction industry covers both plant and machinery, as well as employees, subcontractors, members of the public, utility companies etc. Construction can range from filling in a hole in the road, to building a whole new condo or office block, to building a whole new city.
Construction companies such as Kubota make a wide range of construction equipment, ranging from excavators to tractors, to utility vehicles, to zero turn mowers. The range of equipment highlights the wide and varied nature of jobs that need to be undertaken, both in commercial and residential settings.
The ACCSH comes under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor. Like most government bodies, it has multiple roles in helping to draft legislation, to set standards in the industry and to monitor and make recommendations on current and urgent issues.
Some of its most recent recommendations have focused on the issue of how to make subcontractors establish and maintain effective health and safety policies. This is not simply a matter of legislation, but also one of workplace culture.
The construction industry has always been seen as somewhat of a male dominated workforce, with a very definite macho culture. This can be a real problem when trying to encourage people, either as employees or subcontractors, to really take on board and comply with legitimate concerns about health and safety.
One of the most important areas of work that the ACCSH has become involved in recently has concerned the growth of women working in construction, and has formed a special working group to raise awareness of the issue, the HASWIC.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that much more women are entering the construction workforce in recent years, and this trend is likely to continue. This raises real issues concerning their health and safety. The male dominance of the industry is often reinforced by stereotypical attitudes of employers, of labour unions, of manufacturers and other workers
The ACCSH has identified several areas of concern, most notably the prevalence of an unfriendly workplace, no or little access to any toilets or sanitary facilities and problems regarding protective clothing and equipment that are required to be used in certain aspects of construction work. All equipment needs to have clear and readable instructions as to how it should be used, and protocols in place in the event of any spare parts needing to be replaced, or any accident occurring involving a piece of machinery or vehicle.
Another major area of concern in health and safety is about the rise in opioid addiction and suicide rates in construction industry workers. These issues are not unique to the construction industry, but are major social issues in the country, and such impact on workers in the construction industry.
This is important because it shows that the work of the ACCSH can be tuned to the very real and necessary practicalities of the industry itself, in whatever context it is addressed.
It is highly likely that, post covid, the work of the ACCSH will focus even more on the real mental health challenges that employers and workers are going to face, both in terms of returning to work after prolonged absences, and the uncertain nature of construction and infrastructure projects, both big and small.