By Randy Palladino
Construction safety and health have come a long way in the past 40 years. Over the past dozen years, fatality rates have fallen for construction laborers in both general industry and construction, even as the overall number of workplace fatalities has increased. Injury rates in construction are now similar to those in retail work – an achievement that seemed out of reach 15 years ago. Despite this progress, more than 930 construction workers were killed on the job in 2015 and almost 80,000 suffered serious injuries. In the past, tying worker safety to public health concerns has been a successful strategy to improve conditions for workers. Asbestos didn’t become a national issue until it was seen as a threat to children in schools. Community demands for information about what chemicals were being used at nearby plants resulted in the passage of state Right-to-Know laws, which eventually led to OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard. In light of this, how can we move forward and keep making improvements? Here’s a look at what has worked and what could be done better.