As this issue of Lifelines arrives in your mailbox, there is plenty of good news to go around in the construction industry. In 2015, construction spending reached levels we haven’t seen since 2007, and industry forecasts predict continued growth throughout 2016. Demand for large scale commercial and residential ventures as well as much-needed infrastructure projects should keep LIUNA members and their signatory contractors very busy this year.
The energy sector, which has been booming over the last several years primarily due to the oil and gas industry, may now be poised to expand in the area of sustainable energy. Five-year extensions on tax credits for the wind and solar sectors were part of a $1.8 trillion dollar federal spending and tax breaks package approved by Congress for 2016.
On the health and safety front, workers and responsible contractors have reason to celebrate now that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has finalized a silica rule that’s been 40 years in the making. The standard, which is predicted to save more than 600 lives annually, will protect workers against harmful dust that’s known to cause lung cancer, silicosis and several other deadly diseases. The agency also estimates savings of more than $7 billion every year in health care, workers’ compensation and other costs related to silica exposure. Though the rule isn’t slated to go into effect until the summer of 2017, the LHSFNA’s Occupational Safety & Health Division is already working with many of LIUNA’s forward-thinking signatory contractors on early compliance efforts.
This is a very important time of year for the LHSFNA. May marks the official kickoff of the Fund’s annual Sun Sense Plus campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer and heat stress at jobsites across the U.S. and Canada. Each year, the Fund offers a variety of educational and promotional products to help LIUNA members learn about early detection methods and tips for preventing overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Materials are also available to provide guidance to signatory contractors about the risk factors for heat stress and how simple practices can keep Laborers working safely and at their best. Sun Sense Plus materials are available free of charge to LIUNA Locals, training centers, signatory contractors and members. If you haven’t already received an order form in the mail, you can contact the Fund’s Health Promotion Division at 202-628-5465 to order.
Our mission at the LHSFNA is to ensure the health and safety of LIUNA members and the competitiveness of LIUNA’s signatory contractors. The Fund’s ever-expanding collection of services and materials helps us meet that goal. We encourage all LIUNA Locals, signatory employers, members and other LIUNA affiliates to take full advantage by getting in touch with LHSFNA staff next time you need assistance with health and safety.