Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health. (Forum)

By Dooley, Erin E. | Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health. (Forum)


Dooley, Erin E., Environmental Health Perspectives


In the year 2000, construction work had the highest number of fatal work injuries to date, with 1,154 deaths. The construction industry encompasses a wide variety of occupations, and construction workers face not only inherent physical dangers--for example, the hazards of working around heavy machinery, with electrical equipment and power lines, and atop ladders and scaffolding--but also environmental hazards such as exposure to dust, asbestos, lead, coal tar, and high noise levels. For example, driving a ready-mixed concrete truck may appear to be one of the less risky jobs in construction, but it may expose workers to a number of hazards such as high noise levels, silica dust from sand and gravel, oxygen deficiency and heat stress (from being confined in truck cabs), and hexavalent chromium from cement products.

Part of the federal effort to improve construction worker safety is the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (eLCOSH) Web site located at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/elcosh/index.html. The site was developed by the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Center to Protect Workers' Rights, along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The eLCOSH site is a database of resources on the environmental hazards encountered in construction work. It includes recommendations for reducing hazardous conditions, NIOSH and Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration data on hazards and the problems they can cause, and summaries of published research. From the home page, visitors can search for information by hazard, trade, or job site.

For example, browsing through the Chemical Hazards page under the Hazard link reveals a NIOSH article on controlling drywall sanding dust exposures, a training guide for using respirators, and a physicians' alert developed by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers to help ensure that silicosis cases are properly treated, documented, and reported to state health agencies. …

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