May Newsline: FCC Submits Broadband Changes, Aurora Plans Sewer Improvements, Sustainability New Goal For Public Works

May 2010 Vol. 65 No. 5

More stimulus-funded work to come in 2010
Stimulus funded infrastructure projects are saving and creating more direct construction jobs than initially estimated, according to a new analysis of federal data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. The analysis also found that more contractors are likely to perform stimulus-funded work this year as work starts on many of the non-transportation projects funded in the initial package.

“The stimulus is one of the very few bright spots the construction industry experienced last year and is one of the few hopes keeping it going in 2010,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The stimulus is saving construction jobs, driving demand for new equipment and delivering better and more efficient infrastructure for our economy.”

Simonson noted that new federal reports show the $20.6 billion dollars worth of stimulus highway projects initiated over the past twelve months have saved or created nearly 280,000 direct construction jobs. That amounts to 15,000 jobs per billion dollars invested, well above pre-stimulus estimates that every billion invested in infrastructure projects would create 9,700 direct construction jobs.

The economist added that heavy and civil engineering construction employment was stable in January even as total construction employment declined by 75,000.
Meanwhile, highway and road construction was one of the only areas to see an increase in spending last year even as total construction spending fell by $100 billion. The two figures are a clear sign the stimulus is having a significant, and stabilizing, impact on the industry, Simonson noted.

Revised standard on rollover protection needed
In December, an Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should revise its standard on rollover protection to allow for new technology and equipment to be covered by the standard.

Specifically, the work group will call for revision of 29 C.F.R. 1926.602 to cover skid steer loaders, compact excavators and the Challenger. The rollover protection standard, as written, applies to earthmoving equipment, including scrapers, loaders, tracked or wheeled tractors, bulldozers, off-highway trucks, graders agricultural and industrial tractors, and similar equipments.

Between 1992 and 2007, there were 50 construction tractor deaths and 48 of these were overturns where in at least five cases the driver was not wearing a seat belt.