From the Desk of Chris Trahan Cain, Executive Director
December 2020
Small Study Grant Funding Available
Our Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers. We define small employers as those with 19 employees or fewer. We are giving priority to studies aimed at:

  • Reaching high-risk populations: small employers, vulnerable workers, residential and light commercial construction firms
  • Developing applicable, practical interventions
  • Engaging stakeholders, through partnerships and other means, to better understand the barriers to and motivators for adoption of best practices
  • Addressing emerging issues and exploring new technologies
  • Evaluating promising research translation products and dissemination strategies
  • Disseminating good practices to small employers

We are also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators. A study may be proposed at any time and can receive funding of up to $30,000. For more information, including how to apply, visit the Small Study Program on CPWR’s website.
New Data Bulletin Focuses on
Economic Effects of COVID-19
The latest CPWR Data Bulletin examines COVID-19’s economic impact on the construction industry through September, including construction spending, new residential construction, and the well-being of small businesses. Included in the findings: residential construction was hit harder than other construction subsectors, and businesses with five or fewer employees were more likely to report a large negative effect yet less likely to receive federal financial assistance.
Applications Open for the 2021
Liberty Mutual Safety Innovation Award
The Liberty Mutual Safety Innovation Award in Construction honors innovative, evidence-based interventions -- including technologies, work practices, and programs -- to reduce hazards for construction workers. Sponsored by Liberty Mutual and administered by CPWR, the award includes a $15,000 cash prize to the winning individual or organization. One or more honorable mentions may also be awarded, each with a $5,000 prize. The application deadline for 2021 is February 28, 2021; learn more about the award on our website, including about last year’s honorees. 
New Resources for Working Safely with Nanomaterials
CPWR has just posted three new resources to help keep workers safe when working with products containing nanomaterials. Two Toolbox Talks -- Airborne Exposures When Working with Nano-Enabled Concrete and Right to Know About Chemical Hazards: Nanomaterials – offer guidance through a short story, key points to remember, and a graphic. A new infographic provides an overview of what nanomaterials are, where they appear, why they can be hazardous, methods for controlling exposure, and where to learn more. Both the Toolbox Talks and the infographic are available in English and Spanish. 

CPWR COVID-19 Exposure Control Planning Tool
CPWR has developed multiple resources to help protect workers from COVID-19, prevent its spread, and keep job sites open, including the free, online COVID-19 Exposure Control Planning Tool. OSHA and NIOSH recommend that employers have a plan to assess the risk and take action, and our tool lets users create their plan in four steps:

  1. Assess the risk for exposure to COVID-19 and the control measures that will be used to prevent exposure, such as using physical distancing.
  2. Establish a protocol for screening workers and visitors and handling those who become sick or may have been exposed on the job.
  3. Identify the COVID-19-related training that will be provided, including who will be trained, how the training will be provided, and who will conduct the training.
  4. Complete the final elements of the plan, including information about the job and who will be responsible for implementing the plan.

The planning tool is aligned with the COVID-19 Construction Clearinghouse to make it easy to find additional information on ways to implement controls, conduct screenings, and provide training. The tool is still evolving; if you have questions or ideas to improve it, please email [email protected].
Musculoskeletal Disorders and Prescription Opioid Use among U.S. Construction Workers
Xiuwen Sue Dong, Raina D. Brooks, and Samantha Brown. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2020. Read the Key Finding.
Prescription opioid use and associated factors among US construction workers
Xiuwen S. Dong, Raina D. Brooks, Chris T. Cain. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2020. Read the Key Finding.

Research Request: Seeking Employers, Health Fund Managers to Share their Ideas on Opioid Policies
Washington University in St. Louis is looking to interview key stakeholders at union health funds and employers as part of a research study to develop workplace guidelines that will help organizations and employers develop policies and procedures to reduce opioid use and misuse among employees and members. The interview will take one hour. If you are interested in participating, please contact Sam Biver, [email protected] or (314) 325-4386.

Research Request: Take a Short Survey on Exoskeletons
Researchers from the University of California San Francisco/Berkeley and Virginia Tech are examining the benefits and challenges of using exoskeletons to reduce sprain and strain injuries in construction. Share your input by taking an anonymous 15-minute survey. Existing knowledge of exoskeletons is not required. Use one of the following links to complete the survey by December 31.

Contact Dr. Carisa Harris ([email protected]) or Dr. Maury Nussbaum ([email protected]) with questions.
Tuesday, December 15 at 2:00 p.m. ET -- Identifying Common Root Causes of Falls from Heights

CPWR and the ANSI Z359 Committee are working together to create and administer a new survey to collect detailed information on past fall incidents and their root causes. The survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge left by the Bureau of Labor Statistics CFOI data and other traditional data sets by focusing on the experiences and observations of workers, contractors, and other industry stakeholders who were victims of or witnesses to a fall. In this hour-long webinar, including Q&A, Thom Kramer, a partner at LJB Inc. and chairman of the Z359 Accredited Standards Committee, and Jane Beaudry, Senior HSE Manager at Jacobs and a member of the ANSI/ASSP Z359 National Work at Heights Subcommittee, will provide background on the need for this type of qualitative data, describe how it will inform the ANSI Z359 Committee’s development of standards as well as CPWR’s fall prevention outreach efforts, and conduct a review of the survey instrument and methodology.

Thursday, December 17 at 2:00 p.m. ET -- CPWR-NIOSH COVID-19 Webinar Series: NIOSH Activities Supporting the Optimization of Respiratory Protection

Respirators and face masks (coverings) can help protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Understanding the differences between types of respirators and face coverings, how to wear them and when, and their effectiveness is critical. Join us for this webinar to hear the latest from Maryann M. D’Alessandro, director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, on NIOSH research related to respirators and face masks, what it means, and how to use their findings.

Please be aware that the webinar platform enables 1,000 people to attend live; however, everyone who registers for the event will automatically receive the recording. 

Past Webinars
Learn more about our recent webinars on COVID-19 and the construction industry, as well as webinars on a wide range of safety and health topics.
CPWR in the News
Career Opportunities
CPWR has job openings -- visit our Career Opportunities page for current postings and instructions on applying.
Speaking Engagements
December Meeting: "A Christmas Potpourri of Construction Safety Tools"

  • Grace Barlet, Research Assistant
  • Jessica Bunting, Assistant Director, Research to Practice
  • Linda Goldenhar, Director, Evaluation and Research
  • Bruce Lippy, Director, Nanomaterials Research