ASSE: OSHA launches Texas construction safety initiative

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO, June 29 -- US Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis plans a constructive safety initiative in Texas to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities, she told a meeting of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will implement the construction safety initiative. Solis said more workers die on construction jobs in Texas than in any other state. This involves all types of construction work, including oil and gas projects and expansions. Statistics show 67 fatalities in Texas construction last year and 33 so far this year, Solis said.

“Beginning in July, OSHA will increase the number of inspectors in Texas for a concentrated effort to prevent injuries and fatalities at construction sites,” Solis said. “When these inspectors observe unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches, or other hazards, they are empowered to launch an immediate investigation.”

Solis told reporters after her speech that she is dissatisfied with OSHA’s current reputation and that she wants “to see a turn to the respect that OSHA needs.” She emphasized repeatedly that DOL is willing to work with businesses.

She is requesting a department budget request that would enable OSHA to hire 130 new inspectors and 25 more discrimination investigators.

ASSE represents 32,000 occupational safety, health, and environmental professionals who work with employers to protect workers and employers’ property from safety, health, and environmental risks.

In opening statements at the ASSE meeting, Solis and ASSE Pres. Warren Brown both mentioned concerns about crane safety. ASSE is working to help develop updated crane safety standards.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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