Home » 2021 » October » 21

Daily Archives: October 21, 2021

Will Construction Workers Walk? Implications of the Vaccine Mandate

Contractors with more than 100 employees are sitting in limbo as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration finalizes its guidance on vaccine mandates. OSHA sent its recommendations to the White House for review last week, and the final approval may be granted as soon as this week.

Once the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completes its review and publishes the rule in the Federal Register, the rule will go into effect.

President Biden announced the executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for employers with more than 100 employees in early September. Employees of contractors who do business with the federal government must get the vaccine; there is no option for routine testing in place of immunization.

Failure to comply will result in penalties costing $14,000 per violation. Large companies will also need to provide employees paid time off for vaccination as part of the rule. The policies will affect 100 million American workers.

Lagging Vaccination Rate

Vaccine mandates could have dire consequences for the construction industry, which is already plagued by worker shortages. Currently, 53% of the construction labor force is vaccinated, according to data from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), a nonprofit founded by building trade unions. Forty-one percent of the construction labor force says it’s hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, CPWR says, with the top barrier being distrust of the government.

Because of the hesitancy to receive the vaccine, contractors with more than 100 employees may face the real threat of workers walking. Those reluctant to get the jab may opt to move to a smaller business that falls outside of the mandate.

Industry Groups Respond

Construction workers were among the first groups eligible to receive the vaccine, and industry associations have encouraged voluntary COVID-19 vaccination for their members and employees from the start. The Associated General Contractors of America and Associated Builders and Contractors say a mandate could put a strain on the industry, as well as the country’s infrastructure needs.

“Many of the challenges affecting contractors are being driven by the pandemic and policy responses to it, instead of typical market conditions,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer,. “This federal contractor vaccination mandate could further exacerbate the industry’s workforce and significantly increases federal project costs and delays to the detriment of meeting vast federal government infrastructure needs.”

Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, echoed that sentiment, stating, “This guidance will result in additional compliance burdens, exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled- workforce shortage and increase costs for federal contractors and taxpayers. ABC is philosophically opposed to federal mandates that undermine the desired policy outcome.”

Conflicting requirements at the state level add to the confusion, with several governors announcing they will ban the vaccine mandate. 

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.tortowheaton.com/?p=552

PCL Civil Constructors Cited After N.C. Bridge Worker’s Death

The investigation into a worker’s death on a bridge demolition project at the Outer Banks of North Carolina has resulted in a proposed penalty of $23,210 for the contractor.

PCL Civil Constructors, based in Tampa, Florida, overloaded bridge sections, exposed workers to struck-by hazards and failed to use engineering surveys or calculations to prevent collapse, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  

Jose Armando Maqueda Mejia, 42, of Manns Harbor, North Carolina, died April 14 after he fell more than 50 feet into the Oregon Inlet when a remaining section of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge bridge collapsed. The bridge was built in 1963 and was being demolished piecemeal after the new Marc Basnight Bridge opened in 2019 as its replacement.

Mejia, a welder, was cutting crossbeams on top of a bridge section where concrete had been discarded, OSHA says. The weight of the concrete caused the section’s collapse and Mejia’s fall, the agency reports.

According to the OSHA citation, PCL used “different demolition sequences, and developed its own plan, without performing any engineering surveys and calculations to determine the adequacy of the structure and the potential for unplanned collapse of any portion of the structure during demolition.” It added that workers “were exposed to struck-by hazards.”

The citation also said the structural members of the bridge’s last two spans “were overloaded beyond their load-carrying capacities.”

The two violations are deemed “serious” by OSHA, which means a hazard exists that could cause an accident that would most likely result in death or serious harm.

“PCL Civil Constructors violated federal safety standards and a worker needlessly died as a result,” said OSHA Area Director Kimberley Morton in Raleigh. “If they had followed well-known standards, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented.”

PCL won the $252 million contract to build the 2.8-mile Marc Basnight Bridge to and from Hatteras Island and to demolish the Bonner Bridge.

A PCL spokesperson said the citation is under review, and its policy is not to comment while it is still pending.

The company can request an informal conference with OSHA within 15 working days to contest the proposed penalty.

 

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.tortowheaton.com/?p=549