Why are construction workers supposedly the happiest of any major industry?

By Neil Gerrard | Originally posted on international-construction.com

Employees are unhappier than ever across all industries, according to new research.

And yet construction workers are, perhaps surprisingly, the happiest in any major industry in the US.

The findings come as part of a new report by HR software provider BambooHR. It found that construction workers are not only the happiest but that their mood was the least volatile. That means that as they were polled on their mood from month to month, there was a lower range in their average scores than among workers in other sectors.

On average, construction workers scored 49 in BambooHR’s database of employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS). That compares to 41 in the next-happiest sector of technology and 31 in healthcare, the least happy of eight major industries studied.

Construction workers’ eNPS have remained consistently high, ranging from a low of 48 in 2022, up to a high of 53 in 2021.

 

So why are construction workers supposedly happier than their peers in other sectors?

The report pinpointed two trends in particular:

  1. High demand for construction work as the manufacturing industry spent big on new facilities amid the collapse of global supply chains during 2022. That was combined with the US government’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which aims to inject $550 billion into roads, bridges, and high-speed internet infrastructure.
  2. Hourly construction wages rose to a 40-year high in 2022, with today’s median hourly wage at $17.58 but as high as $28.58, according to Payscale.

Perhaps oddly, construction workers’ happiness peaked in 2020. Despite the wider uncertainty the covid-19 pandemic created, it may have unexpectedly created greater stability for construction companies.

That’s because in addition to a boom in residential construction projects, the materials shortages that arose amid supply chain issues resulted in deeper backlogs of work for construction firms.

Meanwhile stimulus to protect businesses from the effects of pandemic lockdowns, including the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, pumped trillions of dollars into the economy.

Are construction workers getting less happy?

There are seasonal variations in construction workers’ happiness.

The report found that there are lower scores in the autumn, before they rise again towards the end of the year.

However, construction workers’ happiness has tapered off slightly since 2020. And from January to May 2023, it declined at a rate of 81%, according to BambooHR.

That was a sharp drop compared to the gentler average decline of 13% from 2020 through to the present and could indicate that the mood among workers is changing.

One factor that could affect workers’ happiness is the ongoing shortage of skilled personnel in the sector.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has previously reported that the construction industry will need 546,000 workers to meet demand in 2023 and a report from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Autodesk has warned separately that 91% of construction companies are having a hard time finding workers.

That shortage could place more pressure on existing workers in the industry, as well as prompting an influx of inexperienced workers who have greater training needs, BambooHR’s report warned. And it urged human resources professionals to focus on recruitment strategies and training programmes to cater for that influx of less experienced employees.

How the results were compiled

To gauge the happiness of workers, the report has been building a database of regular, self-reported answers to two questions that aim to measure employee satisfaction.

One asks employees to give a numeric rating of how likely employees are to recommend their organisation as a place to work. The second is an open question about their reasoning.

The database is based on information from 1,600 companies. There were more than 1.4 billion self-reported eNPS scores since January 2020, according to BambooHR.

Electricians in the US are in huge demand, fueled by the IRA

By Europe News | Originally posted on news.europenewss.com

The number of electricians employed in the US is at an all-time high in April, and they’re being paid better than ever. But can America sustain the supply of skilled tradespeople needed for these roles?

As a result, electricians are getting the best wages they’ve had in decades. In April, they saw a 7.4% year-over-year increase in their wages—the largest one-year change in their earnings since the Labor Department started recording this data in 2007.

How much money do electricians make?

Entry level electricians across the US regularly make $60,000 to $80,000, and some contracting companies are willing to pay off student debt to entice workers to come into the field, said Greg Sizemore, vice president of health, safety, environment, and workforce development at the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group.

As of April, government statistics show, the average American electrician earned $37.51 per hour, which comes out to $78,000 per year.

Why are electricians in such hot demand?

The need for electricians has partially been driven by a strong labor market that’s paying many different types of workers better. A recent boom in the housing market also has helped. But demand is also being boosted by federal funding for the clean energy transition.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, allocated $369 billion in federal money toward enhancements to US energy infrastructure and efforts to alleviate issues contributing to global warming. Electricians will play a critical part in upgrading infrastructure as US households and businesses turn to electricity versus fossil fuels for powering appliances and other everyday living needs.

Can enough Americans be drawn to jobs in the trades?

But cultural attitudes about electrician jobs need to change if the US is going to successfully make the energy transition that the IRA is now funding.

“For a long time, we have valorized white-collar jobs and tech workers and the knowledge economy,” Leah Stokes, a professor of environmental politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently told The New Yorker. “We need a whole new group of people to think about going into the trades, including people whose families have had white-collar jobs.”

Stanley Black & Decker, a Fortune 500 American manufacturing company, estimated in 2022 that job openings in the skilled trades include more than 650,000 construction jobs that need to be filled in the US, and 10 million manufacturing jobs globally.

Working to attract, retain apprentices a skilled job in and of itself

By Ian Harvey | Originally posted on canada.constructconnect.com

Skilled construction tradespeople should be earning more than some Phds, says Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.

“I always say I need more people in the skilled trades earning more money than the Phds,” says McNaughton, speaking about how to get students streaming into apprenticeships and away from universities.

The need for more apprentices going into the skilled trades has been obvious for some time, he says, but we’re making headway though there are still more challenges ahead.

Less than one-fifth of people who embark upon an apprenticeship program in Canada complete their training within the designated time period, according to a 2021 Statistics Canada study.

What does hold apprentices’ interest, however, is money with higher-paying apprentices more likely to complete their program within a given period of time than those in lower-paying positions, according to one Statistics Canada study.

Still, how long it takes to complete a program isn’t that important, says Cihan Bilginsoy, professor emeritus from the University of Utah who has studied the sector and is poised to issue an annual summary of apprenticeship programs in the United States.

“Completion may be delayed for a variety of reasons and, say, a one year delay should not be viewed as ‘failure,’” he says, noting completion rates are lower in lower paying trades.

The key factor in apprenticeships is how they are inducted into training, Bilginsoy says, with union programs holding the edge over non-union contractors.

“They have the training facilities and the mandate to supply uniformly trained workers,” he adds. “It’s not 100 per cent foolproof but it allows unions to generate a more homogenous body of workers.”

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in the U.S. says 2022 data shows the percentage of construction industry wage and salary workers belonging to unions dropped to a record low of 11.7 per cent, down from 12.6 the year before.

In Canada, the percentage of union members in trades holds at between 35 to 45 per cent, depending on the province and the trade in 2022. In Ontario the 2016 Census found 26 per cent of Ontario’s total construction industry (residential and non‐residential) workforce (465,710) worked in the unionized sector in 2015.

However, that figure includes many smaller home renovation contractors blended with ICI contractors where generally unionization is about 80 per cent or more.

It’s in the ICI trades where unions hold the strong hand in apprenticeship numbers and that’s led to some friction with non-union contractors who don’t have the formal training programs and facilities the unions have.

Some non-union contractors complain unions play gatekeeper to ensure supply of skilled tradespeople doesn’t exceed demand and force down wages.

One of the changes brought in by the Doug Ford government in Ontario in January 2022 changed the ratio of apprentices to journeymen which made it easier to hire apprentices.

In concert with $1.5 billion over four years invested in programs like Better Jobs Ontario, the Ontario Youth Assistance Program, which provides support for potential apprentices and employers to hire them, there are tangible results, McNaughton says.

Others have also stepped up such as the Schulich Foundation which has created a $3 million scholarship for students looking at skilled trades at 10 Ontario colleges.

“I’m confident momentum is building around skilled trades and we’re making a huge difference,” he says. “New apprenticeship registrations for women is up 30 per cent since last spring and overall there’s been an increase of 25 per cent in apprenticeship registration, so we’re moving the big needle, though we will still need 100,000 more skilled construction workers over the next decade.”

While the intake numbers are encouraging, Adel Esayed, dean of the centre for construction and engineering technologies at George Brown College in Toronto, says the schools also need to modernize to serve those apprentices.

“We need to start intensively introducing new technology into trades schools,” he says, noting the generation coming into apprenticeships are technically literate and ready to embrace digital tools as much as physical tools. “The pandemic showed us that tradespeople are as smart or smarter than post secondary students (in adapting to technology.)”

Efforts over the years — and higher wages out of the gate — for skilled trades have kindled interest among high schoolers and McNaughton notes students in Grade 1 will get exposure to trades as a career path, says Esayed, but there is a lingering stigma among some segments of the population. Until fairly recently guidance counsellors were still favouring university, he says.

“Canadian citizens not so much, but new immigrants don’t like their kids going to trades,” he says. “They think it is for people who have no other options. The kids want to and I have to explain to their parents it’s not like it was in their country because here it’s a good option and you can make a very good living.”

Mike Gallardo, a board member at Skilled Trades Ontario but speaking in his role as president and CEO at Merit Ontario, the non-union contractors association, says it’s something he hears from his members all the time how paperwork can be a drawback.

“Some people do think we should look at apprenticeship programs and look to see whether skills learned in another trade can be transferred to another trade, if they are complementary,” he says. “The biggest challenge is when you talk with prospective apprentices, young or old, they look at the pathway, it’s cumbersome and you have to complete a lot of paperwork which is an administrative burden and turns off a lot of people from the pursuing it, because they look at it and say it’s not as easy as it looks.”

Melissa Young, CEO and registrar at Skilled Trades Ontario, agrees its an area that needs work.

“We’re moving to a digital platform where they can log hours and keep a digital log book,” she says, adding future plans will be to remove silos in the apprenticeship process and reach out much more over the year to raise interest.

Gallardo says the burden of bureaucracy is similar for the employer because the challenge is not just guiding the apprentice through their initial learning, it’s also creating the best environment for safe learning and a culture for training.

On the other hand, some companies don’t want to be burdened. A 2020 survey by the Workforce Planning Board for Sudbury Manitoulin found while employers are looking for a diverse range of skilled construction workers, there was a split between those who were eager to support apprentices and others who wanted no part.

Some would pay their wages while they went to school as part of their apprenticeship and provide other supports while the other group didn’t see it as their responsibility to get involved.

Construction Worker

There’s Never Been a Better Time in the US to Be an Electrician

By Nate DiCamillo | Originally posted on qz.com

The May US jobs report showed that electricians are getting hired and paid at record levels

The number of electricians employed in the US is at an all-time high in April, and they’re being paid better than ever. But can America sustain the supply of skilled tradespeople needed for these roles?

This area of the job market has been setting records setting records in employment since late 2021 and shot past the 1 million mark for the first time in more than 30 years in early 2022, according to the US Department of Labor. Now, the industry stands at 1.032 million employed in the US.

As a result, electricians are getting the best wages they’ve had in decades. In April, they saw a 7.4% year-over-year increase in their wages—the largest one-year change in their earnings since the Labor Department started recording this data in 2007.

How much money do electricians make?

Entry level electricians across the US regularly make $60,000 to $80,000, and some contracting companies are willing to pay off student debt to entice workers to come into the field, said Greg Sizemore, vice president of health, safety, environment, and workforce development at the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group.

As of April, government statistics show, the average American electrician earned $37.51 per hour, which comes out to $78,000 per year.

Why are electricians in such hot demand?

The need for electricians has partially been driven by a strong labor market that’s paying many different types of workers better. A recent boom in the housing market also has helped. But demand is also being boosted by federal funding for the clean energy transition.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, allocated $369 billion in federal money toward enhancements to US energy infrastructure and efforts to alleviate issues contributing to global warming. Electricians will play a critical part in upgrading infrastructure as US households and businesses turn to electricity versus fossil fuels for powering appliances and other everyday living needs.

Can enough Americans be drawn to jobs in the trades?

But cultural attitudes about electrician jobs need to change if the US is going to successfully make the energy transition that the IRA is now funding.

“For a long time, we have valorized white-collar jobs and tech workers and the knowledge economy,” Leah Stokes, a professor of environmental politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently told The New Yorker. “We need a whole new group of people to think about going into the trades, including people whose families have had white-collar jobs.”

Stanley Black & Decker, a Fortune 500 American manufacturing company, estimated in 2022 that job openings in the skilled trades include more than 650,000 construction jobs that need to be filled in the US, and 10 million manufacturing jobs globally.

Construction

U.S. DOL introduces construction safety, health committee

By Lindsey Anderson | Originally posted on constructiontechnology.media

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the appointments of 15 people to serve as members on the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health.

The committee provides advice and assistance to the Secretary of Labor and the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health on Construction Safety Act-related policy matters and the setting of construction standards.

Members will serve two-year terms and represent the interests of the public, employers, employees, and state and federal government. The committee — which has broad experience with issues relevant to construction safety and health — generally meets two to four times a year. The appointed members include the following:

Five employee representatives:

  • Christina Trahan Cain, North America’s Building Trades Unions
  • Liliana A. Calderon, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
  • Ryan Papariello, Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America
  • Kenneth G. Seal, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • Robert Seman, International Union of Operating Engineers

Five employer representatives:

  • Kevin Cannon, Associated General Contractors of America
  • Matthew Compher, Quanta Services Inc.
  • Michael P. Lawler, Walsh Construction Company
  • Greg Sizemore, Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Mindy Uber, Skanska USA Building Inc.

Two public representatives:

  • Marissa G. Baker, University of Washington
  • Eric D. Fidler, Manitowoc Company Inc.

Two state government representatives:

  • Christopher Scott Mabry, North Carolina Department of Labor
  • Charles Stribling, Kentucky Labor Cabinet Department of Workplace Standards

One federal representative:

  • G. Scott Earnest, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Christina Trahan Cain will serve as the ACCSH chair.

The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, also known as the Construction Safety Act, established the committee.

Nonresidential Construction Employment Increases in May

By abc.org/economics | Originally posted on consupt.com

The construction industry added 25,000 jobs on net in May, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has increased by 192,000 jobs, an increase of 2.5%.

Nonresidential construction employment expanded by 22,100 positions on net, with growth in all three subcategories. Heavy and civil engineering added 10,700 positions, while nonresidential specialty trade and nonresidential building added 7,200 and 4,200 jobs, respectively.

The construction unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% in May. Unemployment across all industries increased from 3.4% in April to 3.7% last month.

What Does the NLRB’s New Take on Non-Competes Mean for Employers?

By Grant T. Pecor, David J. Pryzbylski, and Aaron Vance | Originally posted on natlawreview.com

Highlights

  • According to the NLRB’s General Counsel, nearly all non-compete provisions contained in employment agreements are invalid restrictions on employee’s rights under the NLRA
  • Non-competes are only valid in “special circumstances,” which do not include desire to avoid competition; to protect confidential information; or to retain talent
  • The memo itself is not law, but the General Counsel wants cases involving non-competes sent to the Division of Advice to shape precedent and redefine current law

 

In another unprecedented move (and maybe the most audacious yet), the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a memorandum to all Regional Directors, Officers-in-Charge, and Resident Officers setting forth her belief that non-compete provisions contained within employment contracts, including severance agreements, are generally unlawful. The memo also requires that all cases involving non-compete provisions now must be submitted to the Division of Advice.

According to Abruzzo, non-compete provisions are unlawful because they “reasonably tend to chill employees in the exercise of Section 7 rights” to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. These protections extend to all private-sector employees covered by the NLRA, regardless of whether the employer’s workforce is presently unionized or the employee is a member of a union.

Specifically, she claims the denial of access to other employment opportunities interferes with Section 7 activity in a number of ways:

  • Employees’ bargaining power is undermined in the context of work stoppages and other labor disputes
  • Employees cannot threaten resignation knowing that they will have greater difficulty replacing their lost income if they are discharged for exercising their statutory rights
  • Employees cannot solicit their former coworkers to work for a competitor and, thus, be able to leverage their prior relationships
  • Employees cannot seek employment for the purpose of engaging in protected activity such as union organizing or “salting”

While seeking to effectively ban nearly all non-competes (particularly for what the memo called “low wages employees”), Abruzzo does acknowledge that not all non-competes are prohibited. In doing so, she notes that lawful non-compete agreements might only occur in extremely narrow circumstances where the contract concerns an individual’s ownership interest in a competitor; true independent contractor relationships; or when “justified by special circumstances.”

However, such special circumstances would not include a desire to avoid competition; interests in retaining employees or investments in training employees; or protecting proprietary or trade secret information, which she claims can be protected by other narrowly tailored workplace agreements such as longevity bonuses or confidentiality agreements.

While memos such as this from the General Counsel are not by themselves law, they signal the enforcement priorities of the Board and how the Board is to approach these issues when such cases arrive before it. For example, Abruzzo previously issued a memo attempting to outlaw captive audience meetings with a similar directive requiring that all cases involving captive audience meetings be submitted to the Division of Advice, to which the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan filed a lawsuit in March 2023 asking a federal judge to issue an injunction concerning her efforts.

Given this memo includes a similar instruction that Regional Officers send cases involving non-competes to the Division of Advice, there should be little doubt that her office is looking for cases that might be used to pursue binding Board precedent in this area. Employers should consider this memo or risk becoming one of Abruzzo’s test cases. According to the memo, she “recently” authorized at least one complaint against an employer for their use of an allegedly overly-broad non-compete provision.

While not presently law, Abruzzo has made it clear that she intends to continue to tenaciously advance her pro-labor agenda and her latest memo ensures her office will join the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in efforts to curb the use of non-competes nationwide. Given the Board’s previous departures from significant and long-standing precedent, coupled with its willingness to create new precedent (for example, a recent Board decision severely restricted the use of confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions in severance agreements), employers must be ready for what is likely to come next – a sweeping prohibition of non-compete agreements across the nation.

With this in mind, anyone considering the use of non-compete agreements should consider working with counsel familiar with both Abruzzo and the FTC’s efforts.

Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act into Law, $5B in Funding to Drive Low-Carbon Procurement in Buildings and Construction

By Jessica Hoover | Originally posted on acppubs.com

The largest federal climate investment in U.S. history was made on August 16, after President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. The act aims to fight climate change and address record inflation.

The IRA includes policies that will invest in U.S. energy production, reduce carbon emissions, and ensure American infrastructure is affordable, reliable, clean, and secure. Included in the act are policies that aim to drive aggressive emissions reductions by 2030 within the building sector and $5 billion in funding to drive low-carbon procurement.

According to a group of green building leaders and advocacy organizations, the Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to reduce over 220 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2030.

The act includes the following investments in clean procurement:

  • $250 Million for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) Assistance, which provides funding to support the development and standardization of EPDs for construction materials by providing grants and technical assistance to manufacturers to produce EPDs and invest in transparency.
  • $100 Million for Low-Embodied Carbon Labeling for Construction Materials, to identify and label low-carbon materials and products for use in federally funded transportation and building projects based on data available via EPDs.
  • $2.15 Billion for Use of Low-Carbon Buildings, to be used to specify and install low-embodied carbon materials and products for use in General Services Administration-owned buildings.
  • $2 Billion for Low-Carbon Transportation Grants, which reimburses and incentivizes the use of low-carbon materials and products for Federal Highway Administration projects.
  • $4 Billion for Improving Climate Resilience of Affordable Housing, which will provide funding to improve the energy or water efficiency, indoor air quality and/or sustainability of projects, and implement low-carbon technologies, materials, and products to improve the climate resiliency of affordable housing.
  • FEMA Building Materials Program, which provides financial assistance for the use of low-carbon materials and incentives that encourage low-carbon and net-zero energy projects.
Conflicting Reactions from Industry Associations and Companies

Since the Inflation Reduction Act was first introduced, there have been some mixed reactions from industry associations and companies about how the act will affect the construction sector.

Some construction associations expressed concerns with the IRA. Kristen Swearingen, Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Legislative & Political Affairs, said in statement that some potential consequences could be economic fallout, additional inflation, more workforce shortages, and high materials prices.

“While the bill provides $250 billion in incentives for clean energy projects, 83 percent of the value of these credits lies in projects that nonunion workers will be largely prevented from participating in due to these labor restrictions,” Swearingen said. “For an industry facing a workforce shortage of 650,000 in 2022, this is no time to impose restrictive labor policies that would exclude nearly nine out of 10 U.S. construction workers from building America’s energy infrastructure.”

Earlier this month, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) outlined its concerns to Congress. According to AGC, the IRA ties construction labor mandates for qualified apprenticeships to tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; creates new challenges for construction firms to fight climate change; further incentivizes the purchases of electric vehicles without creating a mechanism for them to pay into the highway trust fund; and supercharges Internal Revenue Service funding without providing adequate increases to address taxpayer service needs.

The following construction associations and companies released statements lauding the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act:

HOK’s Director of Sustainable Design, Anica Landreneau ASSOC. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, recently discussed the potential impacts of the IRA with Smart Surfaces Coalition’s Founder & CEO Greg Kats. Landreneau and Kats said that the IRA will modernize codes and improve both new and existing buildings; eliminate any remaining green building “excuses”; create a federal proving ground for green building technology; jump-start private investment and development in green technologies; improve conditions in low-income neighborhoods; promote Made in America; and reduce energy bills.

In the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) statement, interim President and CEO Peter Templeton said: “At USGBC, we are committed to transforming how our buildings are designed, constructed, and operated. Green buildings and homes are essential to meeting our climate goals and reducing the financial burden on hardworking Americans. This bill includes billions of dollars in investments in tax incentives for home and building owners, public building upgrades, green building improvements to affordable housing, and low embodied carbon construction materials. … The act will have a profound impact on communities across the country and will be marked in our history as a turning point in our climate fight.”

“The provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act will push HGA’s project teams toward delivering energy-efficient design, taking embodied carbon into account through environmental product declarations that assess the embodied carbon of a product,” said HGA Principal Manus McDevitt PE, CCP, CPMP, HPBDP, LEED AP. “This helps our designers, architects, and engineers understand the calculations and compare the difference in embodied carbon per project and the benefit of using mass timber versus using concrete or steel, for example.”

“NECA contractors are ready to go to work with their partners to build America’s new clean energy sector,” said David Long, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Chief Executive Officer. “I would like to commend Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema, and members of Congress for their due diligence in negotiating a bill to make significant investments in America’s domestic energy while not increasing taxes on our contractors.”

ABC’s 2023 Guide to Construction Safety Best Practices Reveals How Contractors Can Be Nearly 7 Times Safer Than the Industry Average

By CE Staff | Originally posted on compactequip.com

Associated Builders and Contractors recently released its 2023 Safety Performance Report, an annual guide to safety best practices on construction jobsites and comprehensive study of the impact of the STEP Safety Management System.

Established in 1989, STEP is a proven system that provides the framework to measure, strengthen and build industry-leading safety programs that enable top-performing ABC members to achieve incident rates 688% safer than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics construction industry average. The annual study is unveiled to coincide with Construction Safety Week, May 1-5.

“ABC’s safety report is the road map and how-to guide for contractors to achieve world-class safety and health,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “STEP participation can lower incident rates and create safer jobsites so that employees can return home to families and loved ones every day. STEP Diamond members are nearly seven times safer than the industry average, achieving an 85% reduction in Total Recordable Incident Rates.”

ABC’s research on more than 850 million work hours completed by participants in the construction, heavy construction, civil engineering and specialty trades in 2022 identified the following proactive injury and hazard elimination best practices:

  • New hire safety orientation: Companies that conduct an in-depth indoctrination of new employees into the safety culture, systems and processes based on a documented orientation process experience incident rates that are 48% to 52% lower than companies that limit their orientations to basic health and safety compliance topics.
  • Substance abuse prevention programs: Robust substance abuse prevention programs/policies with provisions for drug and alcohol testing where permitted lead to a 59% reduction in Total Recordable Incident Rates and a 62% reduction in Days Away, Restricted or Transferred Rates.
  • Toolbox talks: Companies that conduct daily toolbox talks reduce TRIR by 78% and DART rates by 76% compared to companies that hold them monthly.
  • Top management engagement: Employer involvement at the highest level of company management produces a 54% reduction in TRIR and a 55% reduction in DART rates.

“Top-performing ABC STEP members actively build health and safety into their culture, creating industry-leading, holistic safety programs to protect their workers and deliver for their clients,” said Sizemore. “STEP measures performance on key components, strengthens and expands best practices and builds safety culture. Our people are our greatest asset, and ABC will continue to advance world-class safety for our people through valuable resources like the Safety Performance Report.”

Since 2018, ABC’s Safety Performance Report has captured the results of ABC STEP member companies performing real work on real projects to identify what comprises a world-class safety program. ABC member firms participating in STEP measure their safety processes and policies on key components and the criteria for best practices through a detailed questionnaire, with the goal of implementing or enhancing safety programs that reduce jobsite incident rates.

The 2023 ABC Safety Performance Report is based on submissions of unique company data gathered from members that deployed during the 2022 STEP term, Jan. 15-Dec. 15. ABC collects each company’s trailing indicator data as reported on its annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration Form 300A (“Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses”) and its self-assessment of leading indicator practices from its STEP application. Each data point collected is sorted using statistically valid methodology developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Survey and then combined to produce analyses of STEP member performance against BLS industry average incident rates. The report demonstrates that applying world-class processes dramatically improves safety performance among participants regardless of company size or type of work.

New in 2023, ABC added total human health as a key component of an effective safety program. Total human health raises the bar of keeping workers safe to acknowledge and address thoughts and preoccupying concerns that everyone experiences in daily life, incorporating:

  • A whole-person approach to engage a person’s body, mind, heart and soul.
  • Psychological safety that is respectful and inclusive of a diverse workforce.
  • Acknowledgement of the risk of distraction and impairment and responding with appropriate care.

The ABC 2023 Safety Performance Report is brought to you by SafetyHQ, powered by Foundation Software, which is a comprehensive health and safety management application designed to help contractors better manage their health and safety programs.

Any company can participate in STEP. Visit abc.org/step to begin or continue your safety journey.

Breaking Down the Stigma: Prioritizing Mental Health in Construction

By Conexpoconagg.com | Originally posted on conexpoconagg.com

The conversation around mental health has shifted since 2016 when the Centers for Disease Control reported that the construction industry had the highest suicide rate of any profession. At that time, the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) was formed to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health issues. According to Michelle Walker, Vice President of Operations for SSC Underground and CIASP board member, the organization faced resistance at first.

“Some people were saying this isn’t the employers’ job, this isn’t something we should be talking about,” says Walker. Today, she says it’s rare to have naysayers and easier to convince contractors to see the value of investing in mental health.

“Personal success stories are driving the message home,” says Walker. Research from Lyra shows that from 2021–2023, the percentage of workers who said mental health is discussed in at least one way in their workplace nearly doubled—whether through company-wide communications, during team meetings, one-on-one meetings, or peer-to-peer conversations.

Jerry Ouimet, President and CEO of Ames Construction Company, a family-owned civil infrastructure contractor with 5,000+ employees, says their efforts have also shifted since the suicide numbers were first released.

“Our focus evolved from just suicide prevention to mental health and emotional security to a culture of care and treating people like humans, like family,” says Ouimet, who is also a CIASP board member.

Optimize workforce performance

With a shortage of workers, employers are competing for talent and focused on optimizing the performance of the workers they have. “If you’re going to look for a business rationale, your people need to be at their best to win and be successful every day,” says Ouimet. ”You’re just trying to help them be successful.”

The National Safety Council’s (NSC) Mental Health Cost Calculator provides specific information about a company’s cost of mental health (including depression, anxiety, and general mental stress) based on the number of employees, industry, and state. This includes costs for lost time, job turnover and training, and excess health care. The NSC reports that organizations see a $4 return in improved health and productivity for every $1 invested in mental health treatment,

Recent research shows an increasing number of companies offering mental health benefits. In a 2022 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report, from Wellable Labs, 90% of employers reported increasing their investment in mental health programs, 76% reported increasing investment in stress management and resilience programs, and 71% were increasing investment in mindfulness and mediation programs.

Between lagging data for suicides and the pandemic, measuring the impact of suicide prevention efforts is challenging for companies. But the lack of hard data hasn’t kept companies from moving forward.

“I get calls all the time from our folks that they’re grateful that we’re talking about mental health,” says Ouimet. “They’ve been able to implement some of the tools and made a difference in someone’s life. That’s pretty powerful.”

“Unlike other safety trainings, this is something that can impact employees positively in all areas of their life,” says Walker. “It could be a child, a spouse, a friend, or a sibling who benefits.”

Construction industry mental health resources on the rise

According to Walker, the CIASP will be hiring its first executive director in 2023, and developing a roadmap and a toolkit of suicide prevention and mental health best practices for contractors. It costs nothing to take the pledge to stand up to suicide or to access any of the organization’s resources.

In addition, several construction industry associations are also focusing their attention on mental health. In January 2023, The Associated Builders & Contractors National Health and Safety Committee, with input from experts in mental health, addiction, and suicide, announced it had completed the development of a Total Human Health component to its safety program. It encompasses actions, initiatives, and policies that emphasize the health, well-being, and livelihoods of workers by incorporating a whole-person approach to engage workers.

The fact that mental health has an impact on safety on the jobsite is something that resonates with contractors. “If we want a productive, safe workforce, we need to equip people to be in the best mental space possible to be able to do that,” says Walker.

Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), which has supported suicide prevention and mental health programs over the years, formally established a Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Task Force in January 2022. According to Mandi Kime, who serves as Co-Chair of the task force and Director of Safety for AGC of Washington, the first goal of the task force is to create a free open-source clearing house for all of the content that’s available for mental health, suicide prevention, substance misuse and addiction, specifically for the construction industry. A series of powerful videos tell the stories of industry professionals who have struggled with mental health, in the hopes of letting others know they are not alone.

“We need people being boldly vulnerable, people that we look to as leaders in the industry saying, ‘Hey, I struggled, but I got better. And here’s how I got better,’” says Kime.

“I have seen an overwhelming amount of people reaching out to AGC of America; asking for speakers to come to company functions or resources for them to do it themselves, says Kime. “People are really ready to have the conversation,” says Kime.

“I think we have under underestimated people’s willingness to have the difficult conversation,” says Kime. “They just want tools and resources to do it appropriately. They want to do it right; they just don’t quite know how.”

In part 2 of this series, our Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Mental Health and Wellness in Construction will connect you to many of these resources.

The business case for investing in mental health

  • 5 days of work every 3 months are lost by employees who are experiencing depression
  • 19% loss in productivity due to depression1
  • 50% of U.S. workers have left a previous job, at least in part due to mental health conditions2
  • 62% of missed days are attributed to burnout, depression or anxiety3
  • $4 return in improved health and productivity for every dollar invested in mental health treatment4