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NIOSH recommendations to protect workers on construction sites

Workers in Connecticut may be protected under new laws released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The aim of these regulations is to better protect indoor environmental quality during renovation and construction.

These conditions affect both construction workers and building occupants. In addition to noise, building work can release gases, vapors, odors, dust and other contaminants. These could cause such issues as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, congestion and sinus problems. Furthermore, people can develop asthma and asthma-like symptoms from mold, damp and construction materials. There are certain steps employers can take to improve air quality for employees. Among those steps are making sure that contractors understand how renovation and construction will affect occupants, including the creation of contaminants, and having a system in place so that both construction workers and occupants have their exposure minimized.

Using site visits and a literature review, NIOSH developed recommendations for contract and project bid specifications, effective communication, planning, good work practices and more. Other federal agencies also have standards and regulations. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has an Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act for the renovation and demolition of schools as well as National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. It is also recommended that employers work with engineers, building managers, occupants and contractors to keep IEQ at acceptable levels.

People who become ill on the job as a result of exposure to environmental hazards may be eligible to receive workers' compensation. Many employees may not know their rights and may be told by their employers that they are not eligible. In some cases, workers might even have to deal with retaliation from their employers. Employees may want to discuss these situations with an attorney. A lawyer may assist an individual with filing any necessary paperwork as well as an appeal or a lawsuit if necessary.

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