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A Noteworthy Year in Health and Safety

As 2015 winds to a close and the holidays start to approach, we can look back and say with confidence that it’s been a positive year for the construction industry and for the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA). Throughout the year, the Fund continued its mission to better the health and safety of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) members and LIUNA’s signatory contractors who employ them.

To meet this goal, the LHSFNA expanded several existing initiatives and worked to create new programs that benefit both members and contractors. One new service began early in 2015 when the Fund began producing online webinars for LIUNA signatory contractors and other LIUNA affiliates. These hour-long sessions, which will continue into 2016 and beyond, give contractors key information on critical issues such as new OSHA regulations and best practices to keep workers safe on the job.

The Fund also continued to take part in shaping regulations and safety standards that will improve job conditions for workers across the U.S. for years to come. LHSFNA staff played a major role in updating American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for highway construction and for chemical health hazards in construction and demolition. ANSI standards are widely viewed as some of the best in the industry, and the improvements these standards bring will translate into improvements in health and safety for LIUNA members.

This year also saw the expansion of the LHSFNA’s annual Sun Sense campaign, which in years past focused solely on raising awareness about the dangers of skin cancer. The expanded program, Sun Sense Plus, brings the same level of attention to the dangers of heat stress. Though this program always kicks off in May, the Fund has used new publications and articles in Lifelines to encourage Laborers to watch out for these hazards year-round. To highlight the importance of yearlong sun protection, this month’s issue takes a look at non-melanoma skin cancer and the dangers of indoor tanning.

Shining the spotlight on health and safety issues relevant to LIUNA members and signatory contractors continues to be the driving force behind Lifelines. This month, we cover an issue that has drawn national attention – the looming expiration of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Thousands of first responders, cleanup workers and others – including over 4,000 Laborers – have had the medical treatment they need and deserve put in jeopardy. For all the details on why Congress needs to act now, see the full article on page 4.

Safety and health initiatives in the construction industry often focus on hazards we can see. The potential for falls, trench collapses or work zone intrusions can be spotted early and avoided by taking proper precautions. Yet there are many invisible hazards that threaten Laborers on the job and are far less likely to be uncovered until it is too late. This issue of Lifelines examines several such hazards: biological outbreaks, carbon monoxide exposure and radiofrequency radiation from telecommunications equipment. The methods to prevent exposure to these unseen dangers may differ, but one constant remains the same – awareness and prior planning are key.

The Fund remains committed to furthering the wellbeing of LIUNA members and providing LIUNA signatory contractors with valuable, high-quality services that are among the best in the industry. Activity around some jobsites may be a little quieter this time of year, but it’s always peak construction season here at the LHSFNA.

Recent Lifelines