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ACT Ohio advocates for quality, safe construction by qualified contractors and skilled craftsmen, as well as level competition to ensure the state’s tax dollars are spent properly. ACT Ohio strives to educate and inform the public on the importance of fair wages, workforce training, industry regulations, safety standards and green construction practices.

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Power plant project starts under PLA in Northwest Ohio

The Oregon Clean Energy Project has broken ground on the construction of a new 800-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Oregon, Ohio. While the official groundbreaking ceremony won’t be until next month, preliminary construction is being done on the 30-acre site. The natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating facility will utilize high efficiency combustion turbines with heat recovery steam generators and a single steam turbine.

The project expects to employ around 500 local labor workers, under a Project Labor Agreement. The Project Labor Agreement sets standards for terms of employment and ultimately enables labor stability for a mutually beneficial outcome.

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Construction Industry Gets OSHA Ruling on Confined Spaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its final ruling on confined spaces on May 4, which should provide much needed protection for those who work in those spaces.

Roughly two decades in the making, the new rule is designed to keep workers safe from exposure to hazards in confined spaces, such as tanks, manholes, pits, crawl spaces, and air ducts. It is scheduled to go into effect on August 3, 2015.

According to OSHA, six workers die each year from accidents in confined spaces while another 812 suffer injuries. With the new rule in place, OSHA estimates it will save five lives and reduce injuries by almost 96 percent per year.

According to The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, a union-created safety organization for the construction industry, one-third of all deaths in confined spaces occur when individuals try to rescue someone who has collapsed in the confined space. Often times, the deaths are linked directly to improper training or no training at all.

The ruling creates greater emphasis on communication and training, especially when dealing with potential hazards such as asphyxiation, electrocution, and toxic substances. Multiple employers must share safety information and must continuously monitor all hazards associated within the confined space, ensuring that new individuals working outside that area do not introduce hazards into that confined space.

Dr. David Michaels, head of OSHA, said the rule covers confined spaces, such as manholes; crawl spaces; tanks; bins; boilers; elevator, escalator, pump and valve pits; fuel, chemical, water and gas tanks; incinerators; scrubbers; sewers; transformer vaults; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning ducts; storm drains and water mains; drilled shafts; silos; and step-up transformers.

OSHA will require the identification of confined spaces on all work sites. Employers will be required to continuously monitor engulfment hazards, which help to ensure those working in the confined space can safely evacuate the area before being trapped in the confined space.

The new mandate does not cover workers in excavations or other underground construction, though. In those particular scenarios, workers are covered under general OSHA rules.


Cleveland Event Emphasizes Workplace Safety

Held on February 17, Cleveland Construction Safety Day provided attendees an opportunity to learn about current industry trends and emphasize key topics crucial to the well-being of construction workers.

Put on in part by the Construction Employers Association, this event is just one example of the industry’s continued emphasis on creating a safer workplace environment.

Bill Donovan, Deputy Regional Administrator for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Region V, discussed major safety issues facing the Ohio workforce including the rise in workplace fatalities, fall statistics, and the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations at construction sites.

Howie Eberts, OSHA Area Director of Cleveland Office, and Bill Hocevar of Great Lakes Construction discussed all aspects of an OSHA inspection with the crowd of over 200 people at Tri-C Corporate College.

Rich McElhaney, a global safety consultant, delivered the keynote speech. He discussed Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and its role within an Experience Modification Report (EMR). McElhaney repeatedly advocated for taking simple safety precautions to cut back on injuries and save lives on jobsites, a personal testament since he survived a construction accident that has left him in both physical and emotional pain for the rest of his life. 

The event concluded with a series of breakout sessions that allowed participants to learn about several topics including JSA, traffic control, scaffolds, confined space, drug impairment recognition, OSHA top 10 citations, rigging, and lessons learned.


Renovation work at Progressive Field now under a PLA


The Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council has successfully negotiated a Project Labor Agreement for the major stadium renovation project underway at Progressive Field.

While the union construction trades in Cleveland have had a positive relationship with the Cleveland Indians and the county-owned stadium, this is the first time a formal PLA was signed for a renovation project. The original construction of the ballpark 20 years ago, then known as Jacobs Field, was covered by a PLA.

While numerous factors contributed to the successful negotiation of the Project Labor Agreement – including a track record of quality work by highly skilled tradesmen and women – the labor trades' vocal support for the renewal of the Cuyahoga County sin tax last year was a critical final piece, according to David J. Wondolowski, executive-secretary of the CBCTC.

But the current renovation work is not funded by the renewed tax on alcohol and cigarettes. That money will go towards infrastructure improvements, such as heating, concrete and sewage pumps – work also expected to be handled by the construction trades.

The current, privately-funded renovations involve removing about 7,000 infrequently used seats and some empty suites to create new “gathering areas.” The work is expected to be completed in time for the Indians' home opener on April 10. 

The inclusion of a PLA ensures that all faces of the project will be handled only by highly-skilled and properly trained construction workers covered by collective bargaining agreementsin exchange for labor stability on the project.