Employment trends index on the rise; new OSHA rules imposed; pickup truck sales surge; and new jobsite tools enhance safety and productivity; that and more on the Construction News Tracker brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
The nations's latest unemployment rate has dropped to 7.5 percent with the addition of 165,000 jobs in April. Manufacturing and construction jobs remained stagnant or fell, likely due to weather conditions. Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference Board claims job market indicators have risen to their highest level in five years, a sign of moderate job growth moving forward.
A sure sign of industry improvement, however, rests with the rank and file of construction and pickup truck sales. That economic sector is booming as more home construction has contractors and tradesmen making deals on new rides. A New Jersey Ford dealer who claims his truck sales are up 74 percent this year says customers are eager for new vehicles and looking to hire employees- a sure sign of economic improvement.
IronPlanet, the online marketer of used heavy equipment, is expanding its offerings with the launch of TruckPlanet. The new online auction site will offer commercial turcks of all sizes and configurations coupled with guaranteed inspection reports, financing and warranty options. You can access the site at truckplanet.com.
New OSHA rules have recently been imposed - on cranes and derricks used in demolition and underground construction -that take effect May 23rd. The final rule standards are designed to protect workers involved with hoisting equipment at work sites. The new initiative aims to see if temporary workers adhere to all safety rules and regulations, and OSHA field inspectors will be checking to see whether employers and staffing agencies are providing required safety training in various languages as well.
Addressing President Obama's "Fix it First" agenda that calls for spending $40 billion on infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers has developed a list of $76 billion in immediate bridge needs. The organization is calling for spending of $8 billion a year just to keep pace with needed bridge repairs.
Virginia's Public Private Transportation Act, in place since 1995, has been dealt a blow after a court ruled it unconstitutional. Specifically, a $2 billion Portsmouth Midtown tunnel toll project may have to be halted. Opponents brought suit claiming public private partnerships are unfair and punitive for commuters. Appeals are likely.
New digital technology is being adopted by state DOT agenie called UPLAN. The computer program combines all aspects of highway planning inot a signle system. Idaho DOT planning manager Bill Shaw Outlines some benefits.
The work of AASHTO, UPLAN engages GIS technology as well as all other planning methods into a single database. While Idaho and Utah presently use it, there's hope that at least 30 states will adopt UPLAN before the year is out. Our thanks to AASHTO for giving us access to this information at Transportation TV.
New designs of handheld tools used in construction enhance safety and improve productivity. Engineering News Record claims employers are desperately trying to reduce the $20 billion annual cost of workmens comp directly related to repetitive use tools, many of which cause carpal tunnel and other related injuries. Labor saving devices used in the field greatly reduce overhead costs as well.
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