Category Archives: Global

Despite the emphasis placed on safety, and decreases in the total numbers of deaths and most reportable injuries incurred on the job1, construction remains one of the most dangerous industries, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting 986 fatal work injuries in 2021—a rate of 9.4 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.2 At the same time, the increase in mental health issues reported across the United States is similarly reflected in the construction field. The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) focused on mental health among construction workers using response data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and found that in 2020, more than one-quarter of construction workers surveyed reported feelings of anxiety at least once a month, and nearly 10% reported feeling depressed.3 While one could argue that with 2020 being the start of a pandemic, everyone felt anxious and depressed, earlier NHIS data showed that monthly levels of anxiety went up 20% from 2011 to 2018, well before Covid-19 showed up. And there is the particularly grim, often reported statistic that the suicide rate among construction workers in the United States is more than four times higher than that of the general population. Clearly, the industry has a problem with mental health issues, but is that also an overlooked aspect of workplace safety?

Certain attributes of construction work contribute to the development of anxiety and depression even in those not clinically predisposed to, and never previously diagnosed with, mental health conditions. Construction workers face the same stresses faced by those who work in other industries—such as wage concerns and job insecurity—but there are additional factors at play in construction, ranging from physical demands to a culture that prides itself on toughness. Long workdays at job sites that can be physically uncomfortable and hazardous—noisy, in extreme temperatures, often involving work in tight spaces or areas with high risk of slips and falls—become even more difficult to someone who may already be suffering chronic pain from a previous injury. Then there is the emotional strain of knowing a project is short-term, the work is seasonal, with no long term guarantee of income and, potentially, no healthcare or retirement benefits. Depending on the type and location of projects, construction jobs also may take workers away from their home and family for extended periods of time, adding another layer of stress while temporarily removing the support structure and restorative downtime that comes from spending time with loved ones. And, of course, construction work is always performed against a deadline, with progress often impacted by factors outside the worker’s control, such as weather, availability of materials, schedules that rely on the performance of other contractors, and tight budgets requiring people to do more with less. Any one of these factors can lead to on-the-job stress and burnout. Taken together, particularly if exacerbated by a corporate culture that does not place a priority on promoting worker well-being, they can result in levels of mental and physical health degradation that equate to unsafe work conditions.

If you wonder how wide scale the wellness challenge is, 2022 saw release of The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace and Mental Health & Well-Being, prompted in part by the staggering increase in mental health issues seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Framework cites the following statistics from a survey of 1,500 workers in the United States, crossing government, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors:

  • 76% reported one or more mental health-related symptom, and
  • 84% said “at least one workplace factor… had a negative impact on their mental health.”4

Compelling Statistics

Beyond the basic humanitarian drive to prevent or reduce suffering, there is a strong  business case for addressing worker mental health.
  • 2023 Workplace Safety Index data published by Liberty Mutual Insurance estimates that the construction industry in the United States loses almost $11.4 billion/year to “serious, nonfatal workplace injuries,” more than half of which (50.3%) involve falls of some type or being struck by equipment or an object.16
  • $170.8 billion were lost to “preventable workplace injuries” in 2018.17
  • Productivity suffers: 42% of workers whose job requires some type of manual labor surveyed reported that mental health problems kept them from achieving their goals at work in the previous month.18
  • A 2016 study of the effect of depression/presenteeism/absenteeism on workplace productivity in eight countries estimated “mean presenteeism costs per person [emphasis added]… in the USA” at $5,524.00.19 Update that to 2023 dollars, consider that there are an estimated 160+ million people in the U.S. workforce20—more than 80% of whom have said conditions at their workplace contribute to mental health issues—and you can see why estimates of the cost of presenteeism in the United States range in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

How Can Mental Health Affect Physical Safety?

A host of studies have shown a correlation between mental illness and physical health problems ranging from fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and “brain fog” to headaches, high blood pressure, stomach and digestive issues, cardiovascular disease, all the way up to what is known as “all cause” mortality—that is, risk of death from any cause. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) brief reports that “depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.”5 Anyone who has ever tried to work through a migraine, or struggled to focus on their work the day after a night of insomnia, has no trouble picturing how the physical and mental issues listed above can negatively affect job performance on a given day. Now imagine that it is a chronic problem, and that the worker suffering has to perform physically difficult tasks on a construction site perhaps at elevations requiring a harness, under obligation to protect others from falling object hazards—and it is easy to see how the safety risks rise exponentially.

Compounding the problem, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that more than a third of U.S. adults suffering from mental illness also struggle with a substance use disorder6, often attempting to self-treat their condition. Many construction workers self-medicate with over-the-counter drugs to deal with pain related to the constant physical demands of their occupations, but scores also have been prescribed narcotic pain killers after being injured on the job. It is no surprise, then, that the construction industry has substance abuse rates that are nearly twice the U.S. national average—another source of safety risk7 and an acknowledged risk factor for suicidal ideation when coupled with psychological distress.8

The Dangers of “Presenteeism”

Companies recognize the dangers posed by cell phone distraction and working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Policies exist, and employee compliance is mandated and monitored. It can be harder to see when someone is at risk, and is putting others at risk, because they are working while unwell or otherwise disengaged. Most people are familiar with the concept of “absenteeism,” which is when people miss work. Fewer have heard of “presenteeism,” the term used to describe when workers show up despite illness. They could have obvious symptoms of disease, such as coughing and sneezing, and are reporting to work because they have run out of sick days and cannot afford to take unpaid leave, or they know their coworkers will be hard pressed to make a deadline without them, for example.

Other cases of presenteeism are harder to spot, and they may represent a greater threat. Coworkers who see someone coughing will know to keep their distance if they want to stay healthy. Workers who are emotionally or mentally disengaged are harder to spot. As the popular commercials for antidepressants depict, many people who are suffering on the inside put up a brave face on the outside, and this can be particularly true on job sites that are still predominantly male and where, regardless of gender, individuals can be loath to show weakness.

Living (and working) with the pain of mental illness is tragic in itself. It is even more tragic to realize that injuries or deaths are occurring across the country that are absolutely preventable if the work environment and corporate culture promoted wellness.

Achieving Workplace Well-Being

Workplace well-being expert, international public speaker, and author of Workplace Wellness that Works Laura Putnam has written and spoken widely on the importance of employee well-being not only to the individual worker but also to the entire organization. She notes that the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 “is not called the Occupational Safety OR Health Act,” emphasizing that “safety and well-being, particularly mental well-being, go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.” She adds, “It’s very intuitive but somehow has been separated out.”

Putnam notes that just as we’ve seen with workplace safety, the conversation about health and well-being is starting to shift to a discussion about culture and environment. She adds that while the solutions offered to address mental health issues are still individually oriented for the most part—e.g., access to counseling through an Employee Assistance Program—research overwhelming suggests that the rising rate of issues like burnout, despair, loss of purpose, and hopelessness often have more to do with the workplace itself and less to do with the individual. She references Douglas Conant and the remarkable story of how he turned around Campbell Soup in the 2000s.

Additional Information and Resources

Call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
If you are in crisis, please call or text 988.

Resources for Employers

More Information on Workplace Bullying/Harassment

Learn More about Suicide Prevention

If You Need Help

In 2001, when Conant took the helm as CEO, the Campbell Soup Company was in disarray:
declining sales, market value dropped in one year by 54%, and a workforce demoralized by layoffs and a toxic environment described by one Gallup manager as “among the worst [he had] ever seen among the Fortune 500.”9 Conant worked with executive leadership to address the corporate culture by creating The Campbell Promise: “Campbell valuing people. People valuing Campbell.”10 Valuing people came first in the promise, and Conant underscored that by emphasizing civility, modeling that behavior and replacing senior leaders who were unable or unwilling to adapt to his approach. Putnam says, “On Day 1, he told people across the organization that he was going to be tough minded on standards and tender hearted with people. The way he went about doing this is he focused on his daily touchpoints. Meetings, hallways, cafeterias, he made an intentional effort to handle each of those touchpoints well, even if it was a moment, to help that employee feel valued.” She adds, “Doug wrote personally hand written thank you notes—it’s estimated he wrote more than 30,000 personally hand written thank you notes… He thought the only way to turn around performance was to turn around culture first: lifting people’s spirits up every day. [It’s] foundational to performance and to safety.” During Conant’s tenure (2001 to 2011), Campbell turned itself around, receiving Gallup’s “Great Workplace Award” 4 years in a row. In the process, Conant proved that culture of civility is good for both employees and the bottom line: 2 years after he began his tenure, in fiscal 2003, net earnings grew 14%11; and by 2009, Campbell was outperforming the S&P 500.12

Putnam contrasts Conant’s leadership style with the bullying style of leadership seen at jobsites and in offices across many industries, including construction. She describes a scenario that is all too easy to picture: “Let’s say you have a safety meeting, and you’ve got a team that gets humiliated by a tough boss who mocks them openly. They’re not going to be as focused throughout the day. They’ll be thinking of that moment [that they were humiliated] throughout the day.” So, that day, both productivity and safety will be compromised across the team. And if that toxic boss behaves that way all day, every day, it will take a toll on employee well-being, productivity, and safety long term.

Putnam emphasizes that companies need to drive the culture of well-being from the top—the “trendsetters,” as she calls them (think of Douglas Conant’s example). Next are the front-line managers, the “permission givers.” They’re the ones who have the greatest influence on behavior. Putnam explains, “If you have dispersed sites, the influence that trendsetters have on remote sites is less, [while] the influence that direct supervisors/permission givers have is greater.” She adds, “Even if you are in headquarters, your day-in and day-out culture is largely what you experience in your team, so those permission givers/managers are not only key to mental well-being… but also chief architects of culture for the people on their team.” Putnam stresses that every manager and supervisor “needs to understand why well-being matters, and how it ties to safety and every metric that matters.”

Putnam references the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Total Worker Health® (TWH) Program. The program’s roots go back to a 2004 NIOSH-sponsored
symposium, Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce, and it has evolved considerably since then. As described on the NIOSH website:

Total Worker Health® is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness-prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. The Total Worker Health (TWH) approach seeks to improve the well-being of the U.S. workforce by protecting their safety and enhancing their health and productivity. Using TWH strategies benefits workers, employers, and the community.13

Many in construction are familiar with the standard CDC/NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls
(Figure 1), which lists an order of actions to reduce/remove workplace hazards.

People are less familiar with the “Hierarchy of Controls Applied to NIOSH Total Worker Health,” a companion to the original model that features strategies specifically targeted at advancing well-being (Figure 2). As with the traditional version, the strategies appear in order of effectiveness, beginning at the top.

As is clear from Figure 2, addressing the issue of well-being at the individual level is the least effective solution. Conditions that threaten worker wellness must be identified and eliminated at the top—the environmental/cultural level—with changes driven down through the organization.

Call to Action

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the construction industry experienced  4,472 preventable fatal injuries—the highest number across industry sectors.14 Most readers of this magazine have defined safety policies and a safety plan that identifies potential hazards and defines corresponding mitigation activities. Project safety plans typically include elements like a detailed description of the project scope, site conditions, hazards, job site rules and standards, safe practices, crisis and emergency plans, a list of people responsible for the project, and more. The plans are living documents, updated as new requirements and conditions appear. This focus on safety is vital, but such safety plans focus largely on external items—physical dangers, hazardous materials, procedures to be followed. What is your company doing to address the issue of workplace stress and worker well-being, to influence the internal factors that can have a tremendous impact on how safe your jobsites are? Did you know that OSHA’s Field Safety and Health Management System Manual includes a chapter on providing “a workplace that is free from violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior”15 (Chapter 10, Violence in the Workplace)? Does your company have an anti-harassment/anti-bullying policy statement? If so, is it enforced?

If you have an Employee Assistance Program and health insurance benefits that cover mental health issues, that is an important first step. Beyond that, though, consider whether your corporate culture supports open dialogue and acceptance of issues surrounding mental wellness. What is the environment like in your office(s) and on jobsites?

When you consider the human cost of preventable injuries and deaths, as well as what they mean for your business, it is certainly worth looking into what can be done to support worker well-being in your organization.


  1. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in cooperation with state, New York City, District of Columbia, and federal agencies, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Modified December 16, 2022. Accessed at
  3. Brown, Samantha, MPH, Amber Brooke Trueblood, DrPH, William Harris, MS, Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH, “Construction Worker Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training Data Bulletin, January 2022, accessed at
  4. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well Being, 2022, accessed at See also Mind Share Partners, 2021 Mental health at work report—the stakes have been raised (
  5. “Mental Health in the Workplace, CDC, July 2018, citing Lerner D, Henke RM, “What does research tell us about depression, job performance, and work productivity?” in J Occup Environ Med. 2008;50(4):401–410. accessed at
  6. “Mental Health By the Numbers,” NAMI, updated April 2023, accessed at
  7. Kaliszewski, Michael, PhD, “Construction Workers & Addiction: Statistics, Recovery & Treatment,” American Addiction Centers, updated July 24, 2023, accessed at
  8. Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH, Raina D. Brooks MPH, Samantha Brown MPH, William Harris, MS, “Psychological distress and suicidal ideation among male construction workers in the United States,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 65, Issue 5, May 2022, pages 395–408, accessed at
  9. Porath, Christine, and Conant, Douglas R., “The Key to Campbell Soup’s Turnaround? Civility” Harvard Business Review, October 5, 2017, accessed at
  10. Ibid.
  11. Schnorbus, Roger R., “Campbell Soup Company in 2004 (A),” Virginia: Richmond, 2004.
  12. Duncan, Rodger Dean, “How Campbell’s Soup’s Former CEO Turned The Company Around,” Fast Company, 09-18-14, accessed at
  13. “NIOSH Total Worker Health® Program,” accessed at
  14. NSC analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), accessed at
  15. See
  17. NSC 2020 data reported in “Making the Business Case for Total Worker Health®”, NIOSH/CDC website, accessed at
  18. “The American workforce faces compounding pressure: APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey Results,” American Psychological Association, 2021, accessed at
  19. Evans-Lacko S, Knapp M., “Global patterns of workplace productivity for people with depression: absenteeism and presenteeism costs across eight diverse countries.” Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2016 Nov;51(11):1525-1537. doi: 10.1007/s00127-016-1278-4. Epub 2016 Sep 26. PMID: 27667656; PMCID: PMC5101346.
  20. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, “Table A-1. Employment status of civilian population by sex and age” (Aug. 2023), accessed

The NSC, in collaboration with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, recently released New Value of Safety in a Changing World, which underscores the importance of embracing modern safety approaches and the profound impact of environment, health, and safety (EHS) initiatives on organizations and society at large. The report dives into the interconnectedness of safety, sustainability, and societal responsibility, marking a significant step forward in contemporary workplace safety.

“Feeling and being safe is a fundamental condition for our well-being, but health and safety interventions in the workplace are often taken for granted and undervalued,” said Dr. Ruth Boumphrey, CEO of Lloyd’s Register Foundation. “This groundbreaking research makes us rethink the value we put on safety and makes the case for better investment and support for new health and safety approaches.”

This in-depth research delves into the critical role EHS plays in today’s dynamic landscape, bridging scientific advancements, technological innovations, regulatory transformations, and the pursuit of holistic well-being. It explores the convergence of safety with environment, social, and governance (ESG) considerations, emphasizing the interconnectedness of these factors in shaping modern safety excellence.

“This report highlights the intricate relationship between EHS, sustainability, and societal well-being, offering valuable insights into the transformative power of modern safety tools and initiatives,” said John Dony, Vice President of Workplace Strategy at NSC. “In an era defined by technological leaps, global well-being and economic challenges, and shifting cultural norms, understanding and embracing the critical role safety—and all it encompasses—plays in the workplace is a must, and it needs to start with an expanded, holistic approach. This report will not only help decision-makers advance safety but will also help workers across the globe live their fullest lives.”

The New Value of Safety in a Changing World report highlights the following findings:

  • Holistic Approach: Modern safety programs extend beyond physical safety and direct cost reduction. The research identifies Human and Organizational Performance, Total Worker Health, and ESG as integral concepts that collectively drive value creation across various domains.
  • Value Generation Areas: The Hierarchy of EHS Value illustrates how EHS programs
    generate value across eight distinct areas: health, economic, environment, sustainability, resilience, ethics, society, and reputation. The report elucidates the intricate relationships among these areas, underscoring their interconnectedness.
  • Integrated Initiatives: Themes such as diversity, equity, inclusion, mental health, and sustainability intertwine across Total Worker Health and ESG. Integrating these areas offers compelling benefits, including increased trust, enhanced reputation, and better overall resilience.
  • Future-Ready Strategies: The report advocates for businesses to embrace a holistic safety approach and adapt to the changing regulatory and standards landscape. Organizations are encouraged to implement tailored interventions based on the profiled themes to drive value creation.

NSC has also developed an activation guide to equip organizations with practical tools to implement continuous improvement strategies and navigate the evolving EHS landscape. For more information on the new value of safety, visit

The NSC ( works to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing its efforts on the workplace, roadway, and impairment. They create
a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

Every employer wants a healthy and happy workforce. Robust levels of productivity, after all, contribute mightily to the bottom line. Recent times, however, have seen the rise of a threat to efficient operations: a growing incidence of employee mental health issues. “Nearly one in five adults is battling a mental health condition today,” said Lynn Merritt, Senior Vice President for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association ( “And only about half are receiving adequate treatment.”

The workplace is being hit especially hard. Some 76% of full-time employees reported experiencing at least one mental health symptom in the past year, according to a survey from Mind Share Partners, a workplace wellness consulting firm ( Moreover, more than half the Gen Zers who make up a growing percentage of the nation’s workforce reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The problem is especially acute in the construction industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction occupations have some of the highest rates of suicide. Of the variety of causes for this phenomenon, one of the most common is the
preponderance of injuries that accompany any occupation utilizing heavy equipment. “When people are injured, they end up getting opioids to get rid of the pain and get back to work,” said Bernie Dyme, President of Perspectives Ltd, a workplace wellness consulting firm. “And substance abuse can very often lead to depression and suicide.”

The industry’s seasonal nature can also create psychological stress. “Work can be sporadic in the construction sector,” noted Dyme. “And whenever the economy slows down, there is less work to be had. That can also cause mental issues.” Also, the industry often requires workers to be mobile, which can lead to disconnection from families, sleep deprivation, and mental and physical exhaustion. It can be difficult to gauge how employees are feeling when teams are dispersed across different locations and have little face time with managers.

Another contributor is the male-dominated nature of the profession, which can often discourage the sharing of psychological problems. “The macho mentality doesn’t want to talk about mental health issues, and the stigma surrounding them is much, much greater than in many other industries,” said Dyme. “When people keep their internal stresses bottled up, of course, the result is very often a worsening of their conditions.”

Rising Costs

Unresolved mental health issues can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression—common causes of absenteeism and poor performance. Employers also incur direct costs in the form of spikes in disability claims and health insurance premiums. Finally, high stress levels can result in an increase in resignations at a time when employers can ill afford to lose personnel. “50% of survey respondents reported leaving their jobs due to mental health reasons,” said Michael Davis, Principal of Mind Share Partners. Notably, the comparable figures were 68% for Millennials and 80% for Gen Zers.

The aftereffects of COVID-19 are the most immediate cause of the public’s increasing stress levels. But while the pandemic has disrupted lives and created anxiety about the future, psychologists say other factors are also in play. “Shootings and other violence in the news, social justice issues, economic uncertainty, and a sense of political polarity have all made people keenly frightened,” said Dyme. “They feel the world is not comfortable, safe, and secure.”

Moreover, these societal pressures are hitting employees as they struggle to handle the growing workloads and longer hours resulting from the business world’s continuing drive for greater productivity. Such workplace-specific pressures are only made worse by the tight labor conditions that have been the legacy of the great resignation. When job positions go unfilled, already overworked personnel must handle additional responsibilities.

Getting Help

In the fall of 2022, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of medical experts appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommended that all adult patients under the age of 65 be screened for anxiety during their physical exams. Anxiety is described as excessive fear or worry that interferes with an individual’s normal daily activities. Left unaddressed, anxiety can lead to depressive disorders.

While screening for anxiety is a good start, businesses can also take steps to enhance the mental health of their employees. The most important one is to create a healthy work environment. “To hold onto people, companies need to build good corporate cultures where people feel connected,” said Patrick J. Kennedy, Co-Founder and Director of One Mind at Work, a global coalition of organizations committed to the development of a standard for workplace mental health ( That means creating cultures of psychological safety where people feel respected by a company that cares about them.

Opening up about mental health issues is critical. Supervisors need to eliminate any of their own lingering resistance to discussing the topic, and workers need to feel free to communicate when something is amiss. “People have always been very reticent to say they have hidden disabilities because they are afraid of the reaction at work, of putting their job in jeopardy if they ask for accommodations,” said Maureen Hotchner, a Workplace Wellness Consultant. “We need to erase the stigma of speaking about mental health and provide a way for people to get help.”

This is one area where Gen Zers are leading the way: Psychologists say people in their twenties are more comfortable talking about mental health issues than their older colleagues. Of course, not everyone will speak up when something is wrong, which is why employers must know how to spot employee behavior that might signify problems. Maybe Andrew has started to show up late for work, or has been calling in sick more often. Or Lisa has been going through the motions of her assigned duties without any real engagement. Or Mark has become argumentative with co-workers.

The ability to spot signs of trouble presupposes a knowledge of the employee, and here is where supervisors and managers can be proactive. “One of the things that employers can do is build relationships with their people,” said Davis. “It’s really hard to have a conversation with someone about their behavior when you haven’t checked in with them on a regular basis.”

Mid-level management also must be brought aboard. “A lot of training needs to be done at the higher levels of construction companies, especially with supervisors, in order to make it safer and okay for workers to come forward with depression or pain problems or addiction,” said Dyme.

Spotting changes in employee behavior is one thing. Responding appropriately is another. Rather than mentioning stress or mental health when approaching the individual, psychologists advise supervisors to only discuss observed behaviors. “Erratic or different behavior might be related to a mental health issue, or it might not,” said Davis. “Maybe the person has just not been getting enough sleep because a family member is sick, or they were up late playing video games or watching TV.” Help the employee open up by asking what can be done to provide the resources required to improve performance. Would some adaptations help the person be at their best?

Providing Resources

Given the human and business cost of workplace stress, it is little wonder a growing number of businesses are reaching out for help. Consider the experience of the Center for Workplace Mental Health, a division of the American Psychiatric Association that maintains a website for employers seeking assistance ( “Over the last 5 years, the volume of requests that we’ve received has grown fourfold,” said Director Darcy Gruttadaro. Visits to the organization’s website doubled during the pandemic.

Insurance companies also can provide assistance, and more employers are helping workers get the services they need by ensuring the company insurance program covers the requisite care. “Part of the challenge is that the healthcare system has never been equitable in terms of providing services for, or paying claims of, mental or behavioral healthcare,” said Dyme. “Certainly not in the same way as they have the physical or medical side of things.”

While signing up for an appropriate plan is important, the fact remains that ensuring adequate care can still be elusive. “You may have robust mental health coverage, but if you don’t have enough therapists and psychiatrists in the health network, it amounts to a
plan without a promise of care,” said Gruttadaro. “Furthermore, many psychiatrists and therapists do not accept insurance because they have experienced administrative burdens and low reimbursement rates in health plan networks.”

Another problem is a lack of sufficient personnel. “Even if patients are lucky enough to find a practitioner in their network who takes new patients, they often must wait 3 to 6 months for an appointment,” said Gruttadaro. Blue Cross Blue Shield has estimated that 77% of U.S. counties are underserved by therapists. Scarce resources are an especially common problem in rural communities.

Here is where technology has come to the rescue, at least to some extent. The work-from-home trend sparked by the pandemic has opened the door to telemedicine, expanding the pool of potential medical personnel to include practitioners far from a patient’s place of residence. “Being able to connect to a psychiatrist or therapist through a computer has been a real plus,” said Gruttadaro.

Remote treatment also can help resolve the special challenges experienced by the growing number of remote workers. There is evidence that isolation from colleagues can lead to mental health issues. “We typically get in the 16,000 range in terms of requests for our employer guides,” said Gruttadaro. “But our title about working remotely on mental health has received more than 300,000 requests.”

Quiz: How Well Do You Address Mental Health Issues?

Does your workplace encourage good employee mental health? Find out by taking this quiz. Score 10 points for each “yes” answer to these questions. Then, total your score and check your rating at the bottom of the quiz.

Has your business taken the following steps?

  1. Created a work environment that encourages employees to communicate openly about stressors and mental health issues?
  2. Ensured that supervisors build healthy relationships with workers through regular check-ins?
  3. Developed appropriate procedures for approaching employees who exhibit behavioral problems?
  4. Encouraged autonomy, fairness, and enhanced employee self-worth with rewards and recognition?
  5. Given special attention to the psychological well-being of remote workers?
  6. Informed employees about available mental health resources, including clear instructions on where to go for help?
  7. Modified policies and procedures around paid time off, flexible hours, and mental health days?
  8. Reframed performance reviews as opportunities for feedback and learning?
  9. Conducted pulse surveys to better understand ongoing stressors affecting employees?
  10. Ensured the company health insurance program covers mental and psychological issues, and looked into telemedicine as a way to assist employees who need counseling?

What is your score?

  • 80 or more: Congratulations! You have gone a long way toward ensuring good mental health for your employees.
  • Between 60 and 80: It is time to fine-tune your policies.
  • Below 60: Your business is at risk. Take action on the suggestions in the accompanying story.

Bonus question: Would your employees or even coworkers answer and score this quiz the same way you do?

This quiz is intended to get you thinking about your corporation’s policies on mental health, but your company should always consult experts when creating policies
for employees.

Taking Action

Traditionally, businesses have put the burden on individual employees to deal with the burnout and stress that can lead to mental health issues. “Employers have always expected people to show up at the workplace and leave their problems at the door,” said Hotchner. “Today, we know a lot more about human behavior, and we know that’s often not possible. People will put on a social face and avoid asking for any accommodations that might jeopardize their jobs. But because they have a hidden disability, they are not able to give 100%.”

Times are changing, and today’s workers expect their employers to join in the mental health effort by providing a supportive workplace. That means taking steps such as adjusting workloads, encouraging autonomy, ensuring fairness, and enhancing self-worth through reward and recognition.

Construction companies are stepping up to the plate. Consider the initiatives underway at Gardner Builders, a commercial construction contractor based in Minneapolis. “We have introduced Wellness Pods, mobile private accommodations that allow anyone working on a construction site to take a personal timeout, as needed,” said Brett Smith, the company’s Safety Director. “They might place a telehealth call with their doctor, pump breast milk for their baby, meditate or pray, or just take some time to decompress.”

Gardner Builders is piloting several different models of these Wellness Pods, with plans to roll them out to job sites nationwide. “We also intend to make the plans publicly available, so every worker on every construction site can have the space and dignity they need and deserve.” said Smith. “We believe this initiative is in the interest of both the individual worker and the construction industry at large.”

Some other initiatives are underway, such as a communications platform called Beekeeper, which gives construction workers the capability to report safety incidents more efficiently and employers to address them more effectively. “We know that when construction workers feel safe at their jobs, it has a positive impact on their mental health,” said Cris Grossmann, CEO and Co-Founder of the company. In contrast with traditional, paper-based reporting processes, the Beekeeper platform digitizes the entire process, providing construction workers a way to easily report safety incidents that managers can quickly and efficiently address. “The platform also optimizes a safety culture by providing training for employees and metrics for managers, helping to reduce future risk,” he added. “And an environment with less risk has a positive impact on workers’ mental health.” (For a selection of resources and technologies available to the construction industry, see the sidebar, “Mental Health Resources.”)

Mental Health Resources

Employers will find additional information about effective mental health programs at the following organizations:

  • The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be shared by employers so workers learn about this nationwide network of crisis centers. Available at
  • Beekeeper provides software that encourages reporting of psychological problems in the construction industry and enhances communication between employees and supervisors. Available at
  • The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) provides a variety  of resources for the industry. Available at
  • Center for Workplace Mental Health maintains an array of resources for employers, including a popular series of guides on mental health issues. Available at
  • Mind Share Partners publishes reports with insights into causes of, and solutions for, burnout, anxiety, and depression. Available at
  • Perspectives Ltd. offers an Employee Assistance Program and provides mental health resource guides and case studies for managers and employees. Available at
  • Procore Technologies, creator of a construction industry software platform, has created a video on how mental health can be better addressed in the workplace. Get Construction Talking is a video series aimed at bringing to light the real challenges faced by those in construction, and how to create real change and offer effective resources. Available at

The mental health community applauds such efforts. “We encourage organizations to look
critically internally and make the required changes to ensure that people are not getting burned out, because that’s the fastest move toward the exit when it comes to people’s work experiences,” said Gruttadaro. “It is really important that we build cultures in which people want to be part of the organization when they go to work in the morning, whether they’re walking through an office door or firing up their home computer.”

A new rule will require certain employers in designated high-hazard industries to electronically submit injury and illness information to OSHA. The rule, effective January 1, 2024, includes the following requirements:

  • Establishments with 100 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries must
    electronically submit information from their Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries
    and Illnesses, and Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report, to OSHA once a year. (Note: This is in addition to required submission of Form 300A, Summary of
    Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.)
  • Establishments will be required to include their legal company name when making
    electronic submissions, rather than their Employer Identification Number.

Previously, two groups of establishments were required to electronically submit information from their Form 300A annual summary: (1) establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain designated industries, and (2) establishments with 250 or more employees in industries required to routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records. New is the requirement that establishments with 100 or more employees in certain designated high-hazard industries electronically submit information from their OSHA 300 and 301 to OSHA annually. The industries included were chosen based on industry hazardousness and will be listed in the new Appendix B to 1904 Subpart E.

The Final Rule includes employers that had 100 or more employees at any point during the previous calendar year, including all full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. Submissions will be due by March 2 for the previous calendar year.

OSHA plans to publish some of the data collected on its website to allow employers, employees, potential employees, employee representatives, current and potential customers, researchers, and the general public to make informed decision about a company’s workplace safety and health record.

With the Final Rule not in effect until January 1, 2024,affected employers should have time to prepare for the new requirements and establish a process to ensure timely electronic submissions.

Additional information on this new rule will be detailed in a later article.

NIA provides the information in this article as an educational resource to promote a safer industry. While the information provided is based on the NIA’s and the author’s best judgment and the best information available at the time the article was prepared, NIA encourages all readers to consult with their safety experts and legal counsel for their unique business circumstances or when making changes to their safety programs.

Construction Industry: Focusing on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Every year, during September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month, the construction industry dedicates a week to raising awareness about the unique challenges workers face in construction that lead to suicide. During Construction Suicide Prevention Week, September 4–8, the industry calls attention to the higher-than-average number of suicides in the construction industry and provides resources to help prevent those deaths. Visit to learn more.
During OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week that took place in August, the agency released three new videos (available in English and with Spanish captioning at to provide tips on reaching out to workers to support their mental health. The videos
are less than 3 minutes long and address mental health as part of every workplace safety and health program( Visit to learn more.
The October issue of Insulation Outlook will include several articles on the important topic of mental health for the construction industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $90 million in competitive awards to help states, cities, tribes, and partnering organizations implement updated energy codes for buildings. Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these awards will support 27 projects across 26 states and the District of Columbia to ensure buildings meet the latest standards for energy efficiency—reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy bills for American families and businesses. Awardees will provide technical assistance for updating state and local building codes, which are projected to save Americans $138 billion on their utility bills and reduce 900 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2040. Modernizing energy codes is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and make communities more resilient to extreme weather events, which are key to addressing the climate crisis and achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious clean energy goals.

“Cutting emissions from buildings across America and ensuring they’re more energy efficient are critical components of President Biden’s plan to tackle the climate crisis and create cleaner and healthier communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The DOE is providing new funding to help cities and states modernize their building codes — lowering energy costs for American families and businesses while improving public health.”

Energy codes substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also lowering builder risk. Homes built to today’s energy codes are 40% more efficient than homes built 15 years ago, making energy costs a smaller fraction of household expenses, insulating hard-working families and underserved from communities from volatile fossil fuel prices. The current Presidential administration is prioritizing the benefits of energy codes to communities that need them most including environmental justice communities, rural communities, and underserved communities.

Today, America’s 130 million commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 35% of the nation’s total carbon emissions. Energy codes establish minimum standards for energy efficiency in new and renovated buildings and help ensure they are healthier, safer, and more resilient. Through 2040, building energy codes are estimated to save Americans $138 billion on their utility bills and reduce 900 million metric tons of CO2 emissions — an amount roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 108 million homes. 

To realize these immense cost-saving and public health benefits, it is critical that states and local governments update their building codes based on the latest technologies and construction practices and support their successful application. However, according to FEMA, two out of every three communities in the U.S. have not adopted the latest building codes in part due to a lack of available resources to support their implementation. This funding seeks to address this challenge, and help states and local governments across the country adopt and implement modern construction standards. This announcement builds on the June 2022 National Initiative to Advance Building Codes (available at, which supports energy and building codes and standards that save lives, reduce property damage, cut utility bills, and create good-paying jobs while advancing environmental and energy justice priorities.

Resilient and Efficient Codes Implementation

The 27 awarded projects were selected following a robust stakeholder engagement process and target partnerships across the range of energy code stakeholders who play an important role supporting the successful implementation of building codes. These awards encompass a number of key activities supporting energy code updates and implementation, including workforce development, community engagement, research and data collection, energy, equity and environmental justice, and increased support for compliance and enforcement.

A key focal point will be providing industry practitioners with access to education and training opportunities on the latest building codes. Awardees will help develop, attract, and train new workers and retain existing workers to bolster a skilled and diverse workforce that is well-versed in modern building standards, can keep pace with the latest technologies and construction practices, and will help build an inclusive clean energy future. Such programs are integral to the effective implementation of energy codes at the state and local levels, and represent the government’s commitment to strengthening our workforce, empowering American workers, and providing new opportunities for good-paying, family-sustaining jobs across the country.

Selected projects include:

  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (Washington, D.C.) will establish a National Energy Codes Collaborative, which is a nationwide capacity-building network that empower states and jurisdictions to effectively and sustainably implement updated cost-effective building energy codes through technical assistance, community engagement, focused local strategy development, and peer-to-peer collaboration and convenings. (Award amount: $9.6 million)
  • ClearlyEnergy, Inc. (Severna Park, MD) will create regional building performance standard cohorts to implement building energy efficiency programs at a regional level in small, rural, and Justice40 communities, which offer opportunities to standardize policy models among adjacent jurisdictions and promote their consistency. (Award amount: $2.9 million)
  • Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (Boston, MA) will use develop a comprehensive plan to support the adoption, implementation, and compliance of updated Stretch building energy code and Specialized code throughout the state. (Award amount: $3.9 million)
  • Metropolitan Energy Center (Kansas City, MO) will leverage its extensive multi-state network of 30 regional, state, and local community partners not typically engaged in energy code efforts to conduct outreach and workforce development in rural and disadvantaged communities. (Award amount: $6.8 million)
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Harrisburg, PA) will develop energy code technical trainings and building science training programs at career and technical high schools as well as community colleges across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to provide students with opportunities to be trained in building science topics and help address the building code and trades employment gaps. (Award amount: $3.0 million)
  • Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (Atlanta, GA) will develop and deliver accessible and replicable energy code resources, technical assistance, training, and workforce development strategies to stakeholders in the State of Louisiana, to increase the state industry’s knowledge and expertise in response to their recent energy code update. (Award amount: $1.6 million)

Additional award highlights include projects in Alaska where local communities and tribes will work together in energy code implementation; workforce development in Kansas and Missouri that include union partners to brings energy codes to rural communities; partnerships with unions and community groups in Massachusetts to bring energy codes to environmental justice communities; workforce development in Ohio and southeastern states with a focus on training on Building Performance Standards for retrofits; and municipal, contractor and union partnerships in Wisconsin to bring energy codes to more municipalities. For a full list of projects, please visit

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is accelerating the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and solutions to support President Biden’s ambitious plan to transition America to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 2050. EERE is helping to ensure the clean energy economy benefits all Americans, creating good paying jobs for the American people—especially workers and communities impacted by the energy transition and those historically underserved by the energy system and overburdened by pollution. Learn more at

For more information on DOE’s activities supporting building codes, visit the Building Energy Codes Program at or see the full list of projects at

OSHA recently issued a new NEP directed toward warehousing and distribution center operations after Bureau of Labor Statistics history showed that injury and illness rates for these establishments are significantly higher than for other establishments. The 3-year NEP, effective July 13, 2023, provides policies and procedures for inspections of warehousing and distribution center operations, mail/postal processing and distribution centers, parcel delivery/courier services, and certain high-injury-rate retail establishments. All inspections conducted under this NEP, except high-injury-rate retail establishments, will be comprehensive safety inspections. In the case of high-injury-rate retail establishments, inspections will be partial inspections, unless OSHA expands the scope after finding evidence that violative conditions may be found in other areas of that establishment.

Workplace hazards of focus may include, but not be limited to:

  • Powered industrial vehicle operations,
  • Material handling/storage,
  • Walking/Working surfaces,
  • Means of egress,
  • Fire protection, and
  • Heat and ergonomic hazards.1

OSHA plans to target establishments for a programmed inspection using neutral and objective selection criteria. Area offices will be provided two separate lists to be inspected under this NEP: (1) a list of establishments taken from certain NAICS codes2, and (2) a list of high-rate retail establishments3. OSHA also will conduct unprogrammed inspections based on fatalities/catastrophes, complaints, or referrals related to establishments in the NAICS codes covered under this NEP.

OSHA state plans will be required to adopt this NEP or establish a different program at least as effective as the federal model within 60 days of July 13, 2023.

Employers not included in the NAICS codes listed but that maintain a warehouse can use this NEP for insight into areas an OSHA Compliance officer may be interested in during a compliance inspection conducted under a different NEP or as part of an inspection following an employee complaint or reportable injury or illness.

NIA provides the information in this article as an educational resource to promote a safer industry. While the information provided is based on the NIA’s and the author’s best judgment and the best information available at the time the article was prepared, NIA encourages all readers to consult with their safety experts and legal counsel for their unique business circumstances or when making changes to their safety programs.

1. A health inspection shall be conducted if OSHA learns that heat and/or ergonomic hazards are present
2. 491110-Postal Service (Processing & Distribution Centers Only), 492110 (Couriers and Express Delivery Services), 492210 (Local Messengers and Local Delivery), 493110 (General Warehousing and Storage), 493120 (Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage), 493130 (Farm Product Warehousing and Storage), and 493190 (Other Warehousing and Storage).
3. 444110 (Home Centers), 444130 (Hardware Stores), 444190 (Other Building Material Dealers), 445110 (Supermarkets and other grocery stores), 452311 (Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters).

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule on August 8 to raise the
prevailing wage standard for approximately 1 million construction workers under the federal Davis-Bacon Act.

The number of construction workers affected by the new prevailing wages is likely to increase in light of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, which funded many federal infrastructure projects, senior Biden administration officials said.

The final rule will provide periodic updates for non-collectively bargained wages. It also adds anti-retaliation provisions and strengthens the DOL’s ability to withhold money from a federal contractor in order to pay employees their lost wages.

The final rule gives the DOL authority to adopt prevailing wages determined by state and local governments, issue wage determinations for labor classifications where insufficient data was received through the wage survey process, and update outdated wage rates.

The Davis-Bacon regulations have not been comprehensively updated in 40 years.


The Supreme Court has described the Davis-Bacon Act as “a minimum wage law designed for the benefit of construction workers,” the DOL noted in its summary of the proposed rule. The law, enacted in 1931, requires the payment of locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits on federal contracts for construction. It applies to workers on contracts in excess of $2,000 entered into by federal agencies and the District of Columbia for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works.

The law’s purpose is to protect local wage standards by preventing contractors from basing their bids on wages lower than those prevailing in the area, the Supreme Court has noted.

In the new rule, the DOL recommended returning to a three-step process previously used to identify the most frequently used wage rate for each classification of workers in a locality.

This three-step process identified as prevailing:

  • Any wage rate paid to a majority of workers.
  • If there was no wage rate paid to a majority of workers, then the wage rate paid to the greatest number of workers, provided it was paid to at least 30% of workers— the so-called 30% rule.
  • If the 30% rule was not met, the weighted average rate.

The three-step process relegated the average rate to a final, fallback method of determining the prevailing rate. The average wage can pull down the prevailing wage if some employers pay workers significantly less.

A rule that took effect in 1983 eliminated the second step in the process. At the time, the DOL said that the 30% rule may be inflationary, and may give undue weight to collectively bargained wages.

But now the DOL has concluded that this change was mistaken or resulted in outcomes that did not align with the Davis-Bacon Act.

Recent research shows that wage increases, particularly at the low end of the distribution, do not cause significant, economy-wide price increases, the DOL has said.

The DOL said the use of weighted averages has increased from 15% of classification rates across all wage determinations before 1982 to 64% of classification determinations now. This overuse is inconsistent with the text and purpose of the law, the DOL noted.

The final rule comes as inflation has fallen by two-thirds over the last year, and inflation-adjusted wages are up 2.4% for nonsupervisory construction workers.

AIA Releases Compensation and Benefits Trends in 2023

American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released its most comprehensive report on architecture firm compensation and benefits trends in 15 years. The 2023 edition of the AIA Compensation & Benefits Report ( provides a comprehensive look into how firms are addressing rising inflation, staff shortages, and increased financial pressures and their impact on recruitment and retention.
Firms have been prioritizing creating a better pipeline to employment for students, as well as implementing diverse hiring and employee support practices. “Firms continued to find flexible, supportive, and transparent workplace solutions for employees,” said Michele Russo, AIA Vice President of Research and Practice.
The data collected for this report was extensive, with 16,308 positions reported—an increase of 53% from 2021. The data, which includes information from 37 metropolitan areas, indicates the average compensation for architects rose about 4% per year to $96,626 from 2021 to 2023.
The report also found that casual dress policies, child- and pet-friendly offices, flexible work hours, work-from-home opportunities, and adopting Juneteenth as a paid holiday have become more common among firms. Despite these efforts, though, for most architect positions, compensation gains did not keep pace with the rising cost of living over the last 2 years.
Although there were fewer remote workers in 2022 than in 2020, the number of remote workers remained higher than pre-pandemic levels. In addition to this shift toward remote work opportunities, 93% of all firms reported offering at least one form of employee licensure support in 2023.
The report provides an invaluable resource to help individuals and firms  understand the current landscape of  compensation and benefits trends, and  it provides the data behind AIA’s salary  calculator (
Visit for more information on this report.

New National Emphasis Program

OSHA issued a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on fall protection, effective May 1, 2023. In the 90 days after May 1, and prior to implementation, OSHA area offices were to draft compliance information to give employers during or following an inspection being made under the NEP. The NEP gives OSHA Compliance Officers authority to enter and inspect
any site/location where they observe any employee working more than 6 feet above the level below them, even if the employee is in compliance with fall protection rules.
Once a Compliance Officer has access to the site, however, they may cite the employer
for any OSHA violations observed.

Instance by Instance Citations

On March 27, 2023, OSHA began applying a new policy for inspections, known as
the “Instance by Instance” citation procedure. Under this procedure, OSHA Compliance
Officers have authority to issue multiple citations on any inspection site where they observe employers are repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements. Following a catastrophic injury—i.e., one involving hospitalization for treatment of at least one employee, a fatality, the loss of an eye, or the amputation of any extremity—if a Compliance Officer is inspecting a site and they find that employees have been exposed to life-threatening hazards, they may issue individual citations for each employee exposed to the hazard(s). Life-threatening hazards include fall protection hazards, ladder safety hazards, excavation hazards, machine guarding hazards, lockout tag-out hazards, etc. An instance-by-instance set of citations also may be issued if a Compliance Officer observes employees exposed to such hazards and determines that the employer had received a willful, repeat, or failure to abate
violation for any OSHA violation during the preceding 5 years; or the employer had at any time failed to report a fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye
pursuant to the requirements of 29 CFR 1904.39.

In Other News…

Additional developments include the following.

  • OSHA is examining expanding current enforcement of combustible dust hazards to the manufacture of trusses and the secondary cutting or sawing of precut lumber.
  • A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters found the Teamsters liable for damages caused to the employer while members of the bargaining unit were striking. The pro-management decision has been decried by organized labor because it removes one of the strategies used to push employers into agreeing to terms to settle strikes.
  • The Department of Labor has joined with the Federal Trade Commission in efforts to prohibit noncompete agreements or such clauses in contracts/ hiring documents. Counsel is not aware of a final rule being issued.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held hearings on the application of artificial intelligence in employment decision-making by company management.
  • A recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision revises the framework for determining independent contractor status under the National Labor Relations Act, overruling a 2019 decision that emphasized entrepreneurial opportunity as a key factor when evaluating a worker’s independence to pursue economic gain. The NLRB returned to a traditional, common-law test that requires consideration of several factors, not placing greater weight on any one factor. The independent business analysis considers whether the worker has a significant entrepreneurial opportunity, has a realistic ability to work for other companies, has proprietary or ownership interest in their work, and has control over important business decisions such as the scheduling of the contractor’s performance; hiring, selection, and assignment of employees; purchase and use of equipment; and commitment of capital.

NIA provides the information in this article as an educational resource to promote a safer industry. While the information provided is based on the NIA’s and the author’s best judgment and the best information available at the time the article was prepared, NIA encourages all readers to consult with their safety experts and legal counsel for their unique business circumstances or when making changes to their safety programs.

DOL Announces Proposed Changes to Clarify Regulations on Authorized Employee Representation during Workplace Inspections

Seeks public, stakeholder comments on proposed changes

The U.S. DOL recently announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise regulations regarding who can be authorized by employees to act as their representative to accompany the department’s OSHA compliance officers during physical workplace inspections.
Specifically, the proposed rule clarifies that employees may authorize an employee, or they may authorize a non-employee third party if the compliance officer determines the third party is reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.
The proposed changes also clarify that third-party representatives are not limited to industrial hygienists or safety engineers, two examples included in the existing regulation. Third-party representatives may be reasonably necessary because they have skills, knowledge or experience that may help inform the compliance officer’s inspection. This information may include experience with particular hazards, workplace conditions or language skills that can improve communications between OSHA representatives and workers.
In addition to the proposed revisions, OSHA is also seeking public comment by Oct. 30, 2023, on the criteria and degree of deference OSHA should give to employees’ choice of representative in determining whether a third party can participate in an inspection.
The OSH Act gives the employer and employees the right to have a representative authorized by them accompany OSHA officials during a workplace inspection to aid the investigation. Employee participation and representation is critical to an inspector’s ability to complete a thorough and effective workplace investigation and helps OSHA gather information about the job site’s conditions and hazards.
The proposed revisions do not change existing regulations that give OSHA compliance officers the authority to determine if an individual is authorized by employees and to prevent someone from participating in the walkaround inspection if their conduct interferes with a fair and orderly inspection, or to limit participation to protect employer trade secrets.
Submit comments at, the federal eRulemaking portal by Oct. 30, 2023. Include Docket Number OSHA-2023-0008 on all submissions. Read the full Federal Register notice at



Experts agree that designing an insulation system for proper moisture management is an effective tactic in the fight against CUI.

For several years, “compartmentalization” has been adopted as a best practice in CUI mitigation when designing above-grade industrial piping systems. Several industrial asset owners have employed this strategy, which involves installing materials that are impermeable to water at predetermined intervals (e.g., every 6m) or locations like low points, etc. This creates “compartments” along the length of the pipe, preventing the lateral movement of moisture and thereby limiting the extent of CUI damage and thermal losses due to moisture ingress when it does occur. This also may be an effective strategy to help contain process leaks.

The products used to create these moisture barriers are commonly known as termination
gaskets or moisture stops. There are products available in the market today that work well for this application.

Owens Corning Foamglas®

Foamglas cellular glass insulation has more than 60 years of proven stable performance and is approved in owner specifications.

The unique characteristics of Foamglas make it an effective product for creating compartments in pipe insulation systems:

  • Its 0.00 perm rating means it is completely impermeable to water and water vapor;
  • A wide service temperature range of -450⁰F to 900⁰F (-268⁰C to 482⁰C) means it can be used in a wide range of process temperatures;
  • Widespread availability makes it a cost-effective, North America-produced option, with typically low lead times; and
  • It is inflammable and commonly used as a material in passive fire protection insulation systems.

When used on horizontal pipe runs, a 6”-long piece of Foamglas (with matching ID and ODs) sealed with Owens Corning LV RTV sealant provides the desired results and contains moisture ingress within the compartment.

Integrity Products—Termination Gasket

Integrity Products Termination Gasket was designed to compartmentalize piping systems and create watertight terminations using solid-state silicone.

• The product has a service temperature range of -120⁰F to 480⁰F (-84⁰C to 250⁰C);
• The product is malleable to allow easy installation; and
• It is self-extinguishing, non-melting, and halogen-free.

Integrity Products—Termination Seal

Integrity Products Termination Seals are an effective and long-lasting solution to replace traditional metal end caps. They are made from silicone rubber and designed to form a watertight seal for metal end caps at insulation terminations. These seals offer an easy seal solution between the process pipe and the end cap, which is a high-risk area for moisture ingress. To accommodate all pipe diameters, this product is supplied in 100’ coils and is easily cut to suit the circumference of the pipe.

The Exit Strategy

While a compartmentalization approach can be an effective way to manage water ingress, moisture will be trapped in the compartments, and thus it needs a way to exit the system efficiently. Wherever compartments are created, a drain plug or weep hole must be installed within the compartment for the purposes of drainage. The moisture must be allowed to escape the system properly.


Compartmentalization is just one of several strategies that should be considered when designing an insulation system where water ingress and CUI are primary concerns. For more information on CUI products, strategies, and mechanical insulation, please contact your local SPI Account Manager; and visit us at

ROCKWOOL Technical Insulation

Stone (mineral) wool insulation can make a difference for both safety and performance in high-temperature piping and equipment. Superior solutions work as a physical barrier between the threats posing a risk to facility infrastructure.


Recent advancements have greatly improved stone wool insulation in terms of safety, reliability, and economics—by impeding water ingress to mitigate corrosion under insulation (CUI) and providing 2 hours of passive fire protection.

Staying ahead of water is a critical challenge for all industrial plants. Water intrusion can occur under every type of insulation system, and if not dealt with in the design phase, managing CUI becomes even more dangerous and costly. Insulation materials are an important system component that must be optimized to help mitigate CUI.

ROCKWOOL® Technical Insulation (ROCKWOOL) developed an innovative solution to help combat this common industry problem: ProRox® with WR-Tech™ (Water Repellency Technology). WR‑Tech is an advanced technology based on a unique binder that repels water. It is a hydrophobic, inorganic, resin-based additive that coats each individual fiber of the insulation during production.

WR-Tech is an award-winning technology, as a distinguished recipient of the Materials Performance Corrosion Innovation of the Year Award, recognized by corrosion experts as a proven technology that is an outstanding solution for CUI mitigation potential.

To continuously improve the performance of insulation materials, ROCKWOOL recently expanded WR-Tech into our ProRox MA 960 mat/blanket. WR‑Tech was first successfully launched in mandrel-wound pipe sections, where it quickly demonstrated reliable, long-term CUI protection. ProRox MA 960 with WR-Tech is suitable for applications such as large-diameter piping/equipment and where additional flexibility is required.

ProRox with WR-Tech is a durable choice to keep plants dry—now, and in the long run.


In addition to water, fire also poses a significant risk to industrial facilities that contain or process hydrocarbons, such as refineries or petrochemical plants. Hydrocarbon fires are known as high-intensity fires that are very hazardous due to their rapid rise in flame temperature. Typically reaching peak temperature in under 5 minutes, they allow little time to react and have a greater potential for damage to people, equipment, and the surrounding environment. Therefore, passive fire protection (PFP) is essential for process safety, and critical to piping equipment integrity, impeding the flow of heat and/or spread of fire.

ROCKWOOL is excited to announce the launch of our NEW solution for PFP against hydrocarbon pool fires: ProRox PS 680 with FR-Tech™ (Fire Resistant Technology).

FR-Tech incorporates an innovative fiber structure and chemistry to ensure mechanical and chemical stability during a fire. FR-Tech is a demonstrated, safe solution. In addition to stone wool being naturally fire resilient and non-combustible, ProRox PS 680 with FR-Tech has been tested and evaluated to the industry-standard UL 1709 fire curve, providing 2 hours of PFP.

Importantly, PS 680 with FR-Tech also includes WR-Tech, creating a dual-solution that is “The Difference Between”—the difference between elemental threats that pose a risk and proven protection.

For further information, please visit