Partnerships are integral to the NIOSH Program for the Construction industry sector. Input from customers and stakeholder groups, which have inherent knowledge and concern about the safety and health of workers in the sector, helps in setting research priorities. Collaborative research with our partners may include in-kind contributions that help to leverage NIOSH research dollars. Partners also add expertise or specialized experience to the research team, which benefits the research, analysis, interpretation, and communication of the results. In recent years, there has been an increase in multiple partner projects that bring together various key players involved with a given construction issue.
While not an exhaustive list, the examples below are provided to help portray the value and variety of these partnerships. For information about partnering with the NIOSH Construction Program, contact the Construction Program Coordinator. For general information about partnerships with NIOSH, contact the NIOSH Office of Research and Technology Transfer.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
NIOSH coordinates with OSHA through meetings and participation in OSHA's Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) . For example, NIOSH has worked with OSHA's Directorate of Construction and an ACCSH trenching workgroup to develop outreach materials to target trenching and excavation fatalities. While trenching fatalities are entirely preventable, typically about 50 fatal injuries a year occur related to trenching. NIOSH worked as part of OSHA's Trench Initiative team to develop and disseminate materials to raise awareness of the risks and precautions in trenching and excavation operations. OSHA developed quick cards and posters; NIOSH developed a Trench Safety Awareness Training CD-ROM. OSHA has sent these materials with a letter from the Assistant Secretary to more than 2,500 contractors to date. Plans are underway for a wider distribution and additional activities in 2006. NIOSH is also assisting OSHA with the evaluation of the readability, comprehension, and usefulness of the trenching quick card.
NIOSH collaborated with faculty and students at Michigan Tech University, Penn State University, Iowa State University, Purdue University, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Cincinnati to develop Student Engineering Teams to identify noise emission sources on various power tools and to make recommendations to reduce those emissions. The NIOSH Student Engineering Team partnership provided NIOSH with necessary access to expertise, facilities, and equipment to accomplish a broad scope of work in a short time frame. It created a positive image and provided NIOSH exposure on campus, particularly within the engineering community, which typically has limited exposure to occupational safety and health issues and organizations, and it enhanced both the students' learning experience and the NIOSH capability in the engineering control of noise. The resulting solutions, many of which addressed common construction tools, are available at the NIOSH Hearing Loss topic page.
Midwest Tool and Cutlery Company
NIOSH is partnering with this Michigan manufacturer of nonpowered construction hand tools. NIOSH, Midwest Tool, and Colorado State University are collaborating in a research project to evaluate two ergonomically improved manual cutting hand tools used by workers in the sheet metal and other construction trades. Midwest Tool is providing both traditional and ergonomically improved tools that will be used in the study. NIOSH and Colorado State University researchers will evaluate the biomechanics and worker acceptance of the traditional and ergonomically improved cutting tools.
NIOSH is partnering with this noise instrumentation company to test and evaluate prototype systems for accurately capturing and analyzing impulsive noise in real time. Impulse noise is recognized as an important concern for construction. NIOSH has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to facilitate this work.
Laborer's Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA)
NIOSH is partnering with the LHSFNA to evaluate bilingual construction training materials to provide information about ways instructors, supervisors, and employers can more effectively meet the learning needs of Spanish-speaking workers.
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of North America (UBC)
NIOSH is working with the carpenter apprentice training centers in the Ohio and Indiana area to investigate the risk for occupational hearing loss among carpenters and millwrights and to develop interventions specifically designed to prevent occupational hearing loss among these workers. The long-term goal has been to develop hearing loss prevention tools that can be applied to other construction workers, as well as to workers in other industries. The partnership developed a hearing loss prevention program that is a model for the construction industry. It also performed a pilot study that showed that a training program positively influenced attitudes and beliefs about preventing occupational hearing loss and increased worker skills at fitting and using hearing protection.
National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE)
Since 1997, NIOSH, NATE, and OSHA, have worked together closely as partners to improve the safety and health of tower erectors. NIOSH findings and injury prevention recommendations from the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) project have been used by OSHA and NATE to improve the safety and health of tower workers. NIOSH had originally reviewed existing data systems and found more than 200 fatalities associated with tower erection during an 11-year period. NIOSH has provided technical assistance and input for regulatory guidance and assisted with the development of train-the-trainer courses. NIOSH data analysis, information from fatality investigations, and recommendations are used by OSHA and NATE as training materials, and NATE has distributed more than 7,500 copies of the NIOSH Alert Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Falls During Construction and Maintenance of Telecommunication Towers to conference attendees.
CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training and their university consortium
NIOSH partners closely with CPWR and their university partners on research and r2p issues. For example, NIOSH and CPWR collaborated to develop the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health to provide user-friendly information in English, Spanish, and other languages-from a wide range of sources. CPWR is collaborating with developers of the NIOSH workplace solutions database to create a Construction Solutions database for the Construction sector. CPWR consortium research projects also often involve partnering. Two examples are provided below:
- Duke University, the St Louis area Carpenters District Council, and the St Louis area Homebuilders Association. The Duke/CPWR researchers are working with these partners to evaluate three very different efforts to prevent injuries from the use of nail guns used in residential construction.
- Hunter College, Labor/Management Craft Committee of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), and the International Masonry Institute
Hunter/CPWR researchers will evaluate an intervention that will develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a contractor certification program recognized by owners, workers and their unions, regulators, and insurance carriers. The intent is to lead to the systematic adoption of silica control programs by masonry restoration contractors in the New York area.
The Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Coalition-American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), OSHA
NIOSH is working closely with this partnership and alliance on a number of issues, with a particular focus on safe work zone research. NIOSH originally reviewed current highway safety literature, analyzed fatality and injury data, and convened a meeting of work zone safety stakeholders. The meeting led to the creation of the NIOSH publication: Building Safer Highway Work Zones. It presents complementary prevention measures to protect workers from hazards posed by construction vehicles and equipment as well as by traffic vehicles. The partners helped to identify several promising interventions for further reducing the incidence of highway construction workers getting struck by construction vehicles. NIOSH lab and field research is evaluating the effectiveness of Internal Traffic Control Plans , proximity warning devices, and blind area diagrams for construction vehicles. Upon completion, the partnership will work to transfer successful solutions into construction practice.
National Center for Environmental Health, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, CPWR, OSHA, and 38 State health departments
NIOSH works with a large group of partners on the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance and Research Program (ABLES). ABLES is a State-based surveillance system for identifying and preventing elevated blood lead levels among U.S. adults. Construction operations involving lead paint removal, painting, and bridge and highway maintenance are typically among the industries identified. ABLES data provide the public health community with essential information for setting priorities for research and intervention. State ABLES programs collect blood lead level data from local health departments, private health care providers, and public and private reporting laboratories. State ABLES programs are encouraged to (1) collect, analyze, and report their data, (2) conduct followups with physicians, workers, and employers, (3) target on-site inspections of work sites, (4) provide referrals to cooperating agencies, (5) identify new exposures and failures in prevention, and (6) target educational and other interventions.
International Union of Operating Engineers, CPWR, Zachry Construction Corp., Allied Safety Systems, Inc., Hirschmann/ PAT America, Inc., and OSHA
NIOSH is partnering with a diverse group of labor, industry, users, manufacturers, and government partners to develop meaningful, real world evaluation criteria for power line proximity warning systems. This group has devised criteria to allow testing of proximity warning systems at full scale voltages up to 25kV at the NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Lab’s newly constructed power line test site. Performance data from these tests will be used to further develop national standards for use by OSHA-recognized testing laboratories to performance test such systems.
Arizona Roofing Contractor Association, CPWR, United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, OSHA, Petersen Dean
NIOSH is working with these groups to evaluate silica and noise exposure controls for tile roof installers. Cement tile roofs are more common in the South, and NIOSH has recently found that cutting tiles can generate overexposures to respirable silica. NIOSH is working with these groups to identify and evaluate engineering controls for cutting concrete roofing tiles such as wet cutting, use of local exhaust ventilation, and use of cutting stations.
New Jersey Silica Partnership-Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey Associated General Contractors, Laborers’ International Union Locals 172 & 472, New Jersey Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund, New Jersey Department of Transportation, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, New Jersey State Safety Council, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, New Jersey Department of Labor On-site Consultation Service, OSHA
NIOSH worked with this large group of partners to evaluate and reduce or eliminate the amount of respirable crystalline silica dust to which workers are exposed during heavy highway construction in New Jersey. The partners first defined the problem by surveying actual highway construction projects in New Jersey to identify where excessive exposure to crystalline silica was most prevalent. This identified many routine tasks such as jackhammering and drilling, which led to development and testing of control prototypes. All of the resulting devices reduced operator dust exposures by at least 50%, and one of the controls-a water spray dust suppressor-reduced respirable dust levels by as much as 90%. The partnership is now evaluating the water spray control on actual job sites. The partners also developed and provided silica-related outreach in the form of training, guidance, and best practice bid specifications, and identified cost effective ways to reduce costs and time delays associated with respirator fit testing.
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