St. Petersburg City officials, including Mayor Rick Kriseman, officially broke ground on the new pier project on June 28, 2017. Residents and visitors have been eagerly looking forward to this impressive new undertaking, and the city provided a suitable ceremony.
City officials also provided updated information as to the timeline for when the project will be finished. The city expects the entire project to be completed in early 2019. As of now, only the pier and pier head construction is underway. However, the city has received all the appropriate environmental permits and expects to receive all the other necessary permits in the fall.
During the summer, most of the construction will be underwater, as pilings are built which will support the overwater structure. In the fall, everyone will be able to see the project take place as workers start on the overwater structures. There is a separate $20 million dollar project for the pier approach, which will attach the pier to the busy Beach Drive area. That project is still in the earlier stage of design development,
Construction will provide new local jobs
Because of the length of the project, the city expects to provide construction jobs for many people throughout the Tampa Bay area during this time period. They will need significant help from the time of groundbreaking until the end of the project in 2019. This is a boon for the local economy, as construction jobs pay well and are highly sought after. The workers will then pour money back into the local economy.
But there’s a catch...
Drug use in the construction industry
Unfortunately, those who work in the construction industry are exposed to many hazards. The main four, identified by the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as The Fatal Four, are falls, electrocution, being struck by objects and caught-in or caught-between hazards.
Unfortunately, despite these dangers, the construction industry still has the second highest rate of drug use in America, and it’s only going to get worse as marijuana legalization continues to sweep the nation. This makes finding qualified and drug free employees particularly challenging for employers in the construction industry. As you might imagine, that drug use leads to more accidents in the workplace, and also makes workers less efficient, which eats into contractors’ profits.
According to OSHA, 17% of fatal accidents in 2013 occurred in the construction industry, with 20.3% of worker fatalities in the private sector also construction related. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) identified construction workers as high in illicit drug use in 1998, and it is possible that this is what leads to such a high accident and high fatal accident rate.
While employers in the construction industry are not required to conduct drug testing, many do in order to reduce accidents and improve safety on the job site. A study found that within two years of starting drug testing, accidents went down 51% for construction workers. Drug testing also cut down workers’ compensation claims by over 10% and significantly reduced absenteeism and theft. Some employees may balk at a seeming invasion of privacy, but drug testing in the construction industry protects both employers and workers.