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Unions May Make Construction Sites Safer

Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers discuss unions possibly making work sites safer to reduce the number of injured construction workers. A 2017 survey by the Center for Construction Research and Training revealed that construction companies that hire union workers have better safety practices and training than those without unions. Called The Construction Safety Management Survey, it showed that construction firms with union workers are larger, and involved with more large commercial and industrial buildings.

According to, unions have historically advocated for worker safety, and have been pushing the employers harder these past years. Investing in workers’ welfare and health through improved technical expertise and education is one way to promote job site safety. The unions and construction company management often have differing opinions about the methods, though.

The Surveys

Three hundred and thirty-four companies took part in the survey, and out of these, 90 only employed union members; 109 had union and nonunion workers; 135 employed nonunion workers only. The first two categories of respondents were grouped together and considered as “union firms.”

For training, 63.4 of the union firms made Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour training mandatory; while 50 percent of the non-union ones did. Also, 71.7 percent of union firms surveyed made supervisor OSHA 30-hour training mandatory; 54.5 percent of nonunion firms did.

A high percentage (78.9 percent) of union firms conducted job safety and hazard investigations before the start of work, while a lower percentage (55.6 percent) of non-union firms performed this testing.

Another category was site safety and health plans, and 86.9 percent of union companies had them, while 68.9 percent of the non-union firms did.

A separate study by The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) focused on 2016 construction site fatalities in New York City. It showed that 94.7 percent of the victims on private sites in New York State were non-union employees, while 93.8 in New York City were also non-union.

The report noted that non-union employers may not receive enough OSHA support due to a lack of funding; union sites employ union workers to conduct safety inspections and report hazards.

Safety Committees

One of the best ways to promote construction site safety is the formation of union and/or joint union and labor safety committees. This group can take initial charge with frequent workplace hazard evaluations that include inspections; identifying, correcting or removing hazardous situations and materials; reviewing injury reports and documents; and interviewing workers and supervisors.

It is essential to keep accurate records of the inspections and document all safety concerns. If the hazards are not addressed appropriately, an OSHA complaint may be needed.

Labor and Management

It is in everyone’s best interest to maintain safe construction sites, but factors like costs and time can lead to disagreements between unions and the companies that employ them. An AFL-CIO representative stated that conflicts can arise when profit considerations are in the forefront, but that most companies believe in the importance of safe working environments.

Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Injured Construction Workers

Employers are responsible for keeping their workers safe, whether the employee is union or non-union. If you are a victim of a construction accident, we can help. Contact an experienced Philadelphia construction accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC for a free case evaluation. Reach us at 215-569-8488 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.