Lawmakers call for safer construction sites

Feb 19, 2009

Tallahassee Democrat--February 19, 2009

By Bill Cotterell
Florida Capital Bureau Political Editor

Two legislators Wednesday called for uniform statewide rules to protect construction workers at job sites using large cranes.

State Rep. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, were backed by representatives of the construction industry at a news conference in front of the House chamber. The coalition of 25 trade associations joined with the federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration in endorsing model standards for workplace safety, including training and communication on job sites.

Evers and Altman said there has been a decline in employment in construction trades in recent years, but an increase in accidents.

“Crane accidents and hazards on work sites have been a national concern,” said Evers. “A uniform standard keeps crane operators and workers on the ground safe.”

Altman, a construction contractor, said some local governments have passed ordinances “purporting to increase crane safety” but he said conflicting requirements have reduced safety for construction workers.

Their bills (HB 923 and SB 1654) would set state standards for regulating use of hoisting equipment at construction, demolition and excavation job sites. Applicants for building permits would have to submit detailed information, provide radio communication between operators and make preparation for hurricanes and other emergencies.

“We understand the importance of a uniform standard and how our job sites can be made safer through national best practices and a statewide code that focuses on crane safety and regulation,” said Gary Stoud, chairman-elect of Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida.