Feb. 27, 2013

Public Citizen Report Spurs New Maryland Legislation to Protect Construction Workers

Proposed Measure Would Require Companies to Meet Safety Standards to Qualify for Public Projects

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In response to an August 2012 Public Citizen report, Maryland lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would require companies to meet safety standards as a prequalification for working on public projects in the state.

House Bill 1486 was introduced by Maryland Delegate Brian McHale and co-sponsored by Delegate Cheryl Glenn. The bill was inspired by a Public Citizen report — the first of its kind — that showed safety shortfalls cost the state $712.8 million between 2008 and 2010. During that time, Maryland recorded 18,600 construction industry accidents, of which 11,000 required days away from work or job transfer. Additionally, 55 construction-related fatalities were reported in those years.

Maryland screens construction companies to ensure that they meet standards on past performance, bonding capacity and legal proceedings. But the state does not currently consider a company’s safety record before awarding contracts. Under the proposal, construction firms would have to demonstrate that they provide safety training to workers and site supervisors, and that they do not have serious safety violations before being awarded taxpayer dollars to do work.

If this legislation is passed, companies will need to provide information about the frequency with which their employees suffer injuries, whether the companies have violated any safety and health laws, and what citations and penalties they have been subject to from occupational safety and health agencies.

“Requiring safety standards for companies working for the public is common sense,” said Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate for Public Citizen. “It’s a huge step forward that will create real protections for workers while also greatly reducing the state’s economic burden.”

The bill is available at http://1.usa.gov/VN3VPC.

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