DOL reports reduction in construction unemployment

According to a May 4 report by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S.' construction industry unemployment rate fell to 14.5 percent, down from 17.2 percent in March and 17.8 percent in April.

The nonresidential building construction sector added 6,000 jobs, a 0.9 percent annual increase as April employment stood at 658,400. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors gained 3,900 jobs, a 0.2 percent increase since April 2011. Heavy and civil engineering construction employment increased by 3,300 jobs and added 18,400 jobs, a 2.2 percent increase from April 2011. And during the past year, the U.S. has added 1,816,000 jobs—a 1.4 percent increase—to job totals.

NSC holds successful distracted driving campaign

The National Safety Council (NSC) has reported its Distracted Driving Awareness Month, held throughout April, was a success with almost 10,000 people visiting the campaign's Web page containing educational posters and fact sheets.

This year's campaign theme was "How many will it take?" noting thousands die each year because people continue to use their cell phones while driving. During April, NSC encouraged people to pledge to drive without using cell phones.

In conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, NSC released two reports—"State of the Nation of Cell Phone Distracted Driving" and "Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies." "State of the Nation of Cell Phone Distracted Driving" addresses progress made in legislation, enforcement, corporate policy, public perception and technology while emphasizing the need for further improvement in these areas. "Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies" discusses the potential liability employers face when employees are involved in accidents where cell phone use was a factor.

NSC also updated its Cell Phone Policy Kit, which includes frequently asked questions, a sample employee cell phone policy, posters and tip sheets, a one-year plan and roll-out calendar, and staff activities that communicate the dangers of driving while using a cell phone.

More information about NSC's Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign is available at www.nsc.org/safety_road/distracted_driving/pages/distracted_driving.aspx.

OSHA answers frequently asked questions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a list of 52 frequently asked questions intended to clarify how employers should interpret its crane standard, Subpart CC—Cranes and Derricks in Construction.

OSHA also is working on an enforcement directive for the standard—a document inspectors will be expected to refer to when conducting visits and citing violations.

The list of frequently asked questions covers such topics as which crane inspections are required by the standard; how an employer knows whether a signal person is qualified; whether all cranes require outriggers; and whether the use of a hoist during water well drilling is covered by the standard's requirements. The list is available at www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/faq.html.

IREC releases report

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has released "Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting," a comprehensive report focusing on strategies being implemented throughout the U.S. to help increase the efficiency of permitting procedures for rooftop solar systems.

Sky Stanfield, counsel for Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP, Oakland, Calif.; and Erica Shroeder and Thad Culley, associates at Keyes, Fox & Wiedman, prepared the report after one-on-one conversations with city and county representatives regarding their permitting processes and the specific improvements they were putting in place.

IREC found the dramatic increase in the volume of solar applications is placing a burden on local permitting agencies, and as a result, municipal staff, as well as solar installers, want increased efficiency.

"Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting" examines the role state and regional entities play in improving permitting procedures. The report focuses on the permitting process' steps at the local level. It examines the pre-application stage and the importance of providing clear, accessible information to installers so system design and application is accurate. It looks at three main methods of submitting and processing permit applications and highlights innovations from cities such as Honolulu; Portland, Ore.; and San Jose, Calif., to expedite review.


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