Public Citizen News / March-April 2019
By Rhoda Feng
This article appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.
When a 36-year-old construction worker was killed in December after being struck by an excavator in Maryland, it was yet another reminder of the dangers construction workers face in the state.
From 2015 to 2017, Maryland recorded 15,000 construction industry accidents, and 63 construction workers were killed on the job. In 2017, the construction industry accounted for nearly 30 percent of workplace deaths in Maryland.
Public Citizen in January testified before Maryland state lawmakers in support of a bill (HB 24), introduced by U.S. Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore City), that would require the state to screen contractors for their safety and health records when awarding public work contracts.
In testimony before the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee, Shanna Devine, a worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, explained that if the state considered safety and health records when selecting contractors, companies would take steps to stop preventable construction industry injuries and deaths.
An identical bill that was introduced in 2015, 2016 and 2017 was influenced by a Public Citizen report showing that insufficient safety practices cost Maryland $712.8 million between 2008 and 2010. A subsequent Public Citizen report found that nearly half of the major construction contracts awarded by Maryland have gone to companies cited for worker safety violations.