In a press release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Labor has announced a "Weekend Work" initiative in which unannounced visits will occur on various Colorado jobsites in an effort to curtail the safety issues that plague unchecked "weekend" work. The sites under scrutiny are residential worksites spread out across ten counties along the front range in central Colorado.
“This is a proactive effort to identify hazardous worksites and to ensure workers end their shifts safely." said Osha representative Nancy Hauter.
OSHA cites safety incidents over the last two years. According to the agency, at least six workers have fallen to their deaths while on jobsites and nearly a dozen excavation collapses and trenching incidents have taken the lives of three workers.
Residential homebuilding has been booming in Colorado
Demand has been high over the past year which means tight schedules and an accelerated pace for many of the homebuilders. Building materials have skyrocketed in cost and home prices have risen by 11.2% this past year. With building costs increasing simultaneously with demand, cost cutting inevitably happens at the ground level in order to keep overall costs down and profits up.
Union members represent just 9% of the workforce in Colorado.
Residential projects are notoriously non-union, have lax safety controls and jobsites lack accountability. It is no surprise that safety standards have lagged inordinately. Workers are paid less by contractors who cut costs through below par sub-contractors. This is all to meet their bottom line at the expense of workers' well-being.
"There is no oversight on these residential jobs, the workers lack training, contractors rip off the workers while overworking them to make inhumane deadlines. Of course it's dangerous on these jobs. And of course, the weekends are the worst. That's when they can really get away with it." said Colorado Carpenters Union Special Representative Mark Thompson. He continued, "thankfully Osha has realized this and is going after these careless, unsafe weekend work environments."
Read the press release on Osha.gov