Region 2 News Release: NY 183
September 9, 1999
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT AND NEW JERSEY HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION TRADE GROUP FORM ALLIANCE TO PROMOTE REDUCTION OF WORKER FATALITIES AND ILLNESSES
The U. S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey (UTCA) signed an agreement today to promote worker safety and health in the highway and utility construction industries throughout the state of New Jersey.
In a signing meeting at OSHA's Parsippany area office, Patricia K. Clark, OSHA regional administrator, and Michael D'Annunzio, president of the statewide contractors' association, formally established a cooperative alliance as partners to reduce on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
"OSHA and the Association have worked closely together for some time," Clark noted. "Our ongoing effort to bring down accidents in New Jersey highway construction zones would not have attained the degree of success it has without their continued support." OSHA and the Association, whose membership includes some 1200 contractors who build highways and install utility infrastructure, have been informally working together to improve the safety of trench excavation and also to reduce two hazards associated with highway construction.
The more widely known of the hazards is the high risk of workers being struck when working around heavy equipment, trucks, and passing traffic. The Association has strongly supported a highway work zone partnership between OSHA, the New Jersey State Police, State Transportation Department, and labor unions which has worked to keep highway construction workers safe. Statistics of the Federal Highway Administration indicate that fatal accidents in New Jersey highway construction zones are declining.
The other hazard arises from concrete. The Utility and Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA) and OSHA have been working together to raise awareness in the industry of the danger associated with the dust generated when highways are drilled, sawed or jackhammered. "This dust," Clark said, "is often high in crystalline silica, which can cause a debilitating disease called silicosis. OSHA has made the reduction of employee exposure to silica dust one of its top priorities-part of the OSHA national strategic plan."
Ten contractors in the Association have been working with New Jersey state health officials, OSHA, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to accurately assess employee exposure to silica dust in highway construction. The information will be utilized to find real-world, permanent solutions to the problem.
"Strategic partnership is an important tool in achieving our goal of driving down workplace injuries and illnesses," Clark said. "Partnerships take advantage of the resources of like-minded agencies and organizations. They are a direct complement to OSHA's meaningful enforcement policy."
OSHA's Parsippany area office is located at 299 Cherry Hill Road, suite 304, Parsippany, New Jersey, telephone (973) 263-1003.
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