Monthly Archives: June 2013

It’s going to get hot — be prepared!

With temperatures expected to hit the 90s next week, workers should prepare for the heat.

The state Department of Labor & Industries says working outdoors in hot weather can put you at risk of heat-related illness and offers these tips:

1. Start work well hydrated and drink as much as a cup of water every 15 minutes.
2. Watch co-workers for signs of heat-related illness, such as headaches, dizziness or nausea.
3. Pace your work and take scheduled breaks.
4. Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it’s safe to do so.
5. Avoid drinking caffeine or eating a heavy meal.

Be safe!

Construction Needs Immigration Reform to Allow More Temporary Workers

Immigration reform is a hot topic in Congress these days. There are no ideal solutions to this complex issue, regardless of which side of the argument you are on. Traditional allies can be see the solution differently. No easy answers.
The H-2B section deals with temporary non-agricultural workers. In Washington state, we tend to think of software employers needing H-2B workers for their high tech engineers and programmers, but now that the construction economy is finally rebounding, the construction industry is once again (didn’t take long!) facing a skilled worker shortage. However, the number of skilled construction guest workers per year is maxed at fewer than 20,000. With a projected shortage of hundreds of thousands, that is hardly enough. However, organized labor is opposed to more, so that number may be as good as it gets. Wonder whose going to build the buildings that all those high tech programmers are going to work in?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment in construction will rise 33 percent by 2020, adding about 1.8 million jobs. As much as those of us in construction, both union and open shop, would like those to be “home grown” workers, we all know that isn’t going to happen. There are deep, long-standing societal and public policy/budget issues that stand in the way of achieving that dream. (But addressing those issues could take up a lot of blog space!)
We need more guest workers than we are going to get. But the whole reform bill, in any form, has to pass first. Stay tuned.

L&I Targeting High Risk Employers

On May 23, the Department of Labor and Industries, with the support of business and labor representatives from the Construction Advisory Committee, sent letters to nearly 200 construction employers in this state.  The letter identified the recipients as the employers in their respective Risk Class Code as having the highest claim frequency or highest claim costs or both.

The intent is to try and get L&I resources where they are needed most and not invest as much time on employers who are already doing great things for safety.  These letters firmly set the expectation that recipients had 60 days to contact L&I’s Consultation division for assistance.  Failure to do so puts these employers on an elevated enforcement list for compliance activities.

The Construction Advisory Committee responsible for this effort has worked hard for many years to help L&I get their resources to the employers who need the attention and assistance most.