As regular readers of Engineering News-Record and longtime volunteer leaders of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, we were extremely disappointed by two articles relating to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s crane and derrick standard that painted the association in an unfavorable light.

The articles in question, “Gutsy Builder Took a Quantum Leap” (8/16/2010) and “Hoisting Hero Sent Clear Message to Industry When Voting for Higher Safety” (1/12/2011), stated that ARTBA “pressured” its rulemaking committee representative, Joe Collins, to vote down a key provision of the crane and derrick standard “on the grounds that it was bad for business.” The problem with this assertion is that it has no basis in fact.

Throughout the rulemaking process, ARTBA fully supported certified training. The critical question at hand, however, was who would or could oversee the certification. Many of our mid-size and small contractor members, concerned about the cost implications of third-party certification, were interested in flexibility and self-certification in meeting the OSHA requirement. The proposed vote was solely on third-party certification.

When it came to the actual vote, the story stated: “Collins, ARTBA’s rep, knew that he was on the hot seat. ‘They actually gave me direct orders to vote “no,”’ Collins says. ‘I dug my heels in.’” The use of the word “they” in that context leaves the false impression that ARTBA ordered Collins to vote “no.” ENR did not, however, report ARTBA’s response to this specific charge. We categorically state that no one on the ARTBA senior staff or the association’s elected leaders ever ordered Joe Collins to vote “no.” Because of the disparate views of ARTBA’s contractor members, ARTBA told Joe Collins to vote his conscience.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the stories obscured the real issue: ARTBA has a decades-long legacy of fighting to break down political, ideological and bureaucratic barriers in order to help improve safety for both workers and motorists. The association has worked closely with the Federal Highway Administration, OSHA, private sector groups and labor organizations to jointly develop innovative training programs that have helped improve safety and saved lives—at our firms and thousands of others in our industry.

In today’s hyper-paced and competitive 24/7 news-cycle environment, we recognize the tendency and perhaps the need to make a story more interesting. In the end, however, this story lacked proper context and drew an inaccurate conclusion, which does a tremendous disservice to ENR’s readers.

ARTBA Chairman
Bill Cox, Corman Construction

ARTBA Senior Vice Chairman
Paul Yarossi, HNTB Corp.

ARTBA First Vice Chairman
Steve Wright, Wright Brothers Construction

ARTBA Past Chairman
Gene McCormick, Parsons Brinckerhoff