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August 29, 2012
Report suggests a way to reduce high cost of construction accidents

A report by the watchdog group Public Citizen says construction injuries and fatalities cost Maryland $713 million between 2008 and 2010. The publication is The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Maryland’s Construction Industry.

The report showed a total of 18,600 accidents, of which 11,000 required days away from work or job transfer. Also, 55 construction-related deaths were reported in these years.

In order to reduce the taxpayer burden, Public Citizen recommends awarding public construction contracts only to companies with strong safety records. Maryland already screens construction companies to ensure that they meet standards involving past performance, bonding capacity, and legal activity.     

However, safety is excluded from the prequalification system. Public Citizen suggests, “The system should be expanded to require construction firms to demonstrate that they provide safety training to workers and site supervisors, and that they don’t have serious safety violations.”

Although a prequalification process for public construction projects would not address all of the industry’s safety problems, it could yield significant gains. Public Citizen Worker Safety and Health Advocate Keith Wrightson says, “It’s the right thing to do and would position Maryland as a leader in occupational safety and health.”

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