Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Crane Goes Down

Don't Dump Your New Crane

Note: I received this post as an email. I do not know where this event occurred. But, it does demonstrate the need for assuring that a crane MUST be placed on a firm foundation before beginning any lifting.)

Nine-Day-Old, 250 T Liebherr Crane (never used before) $4 Million Price tag.

Failure of back propping beneath the 200mm thick concrete deck.
Crane support outrigger punches through slab causing crane to lose balance and collapse across the site and onto adjoining property.
Crane balanced in the air for approximately 1 hour before the entire rig and boom collapse completely across site and rig falls through to the basement level.

Amazing that no-one was seriously injured or killed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

OSHA Fines Cintas

Cintas Fined

The article below appeared in the (Mobile)
Press Register on Saturday, December 20, 2008. It was written by Sean Reilly from their Washington Bureau.

On several of my previous posts, I have complained that the fines by OSHA have been much too lax. In comparison of those minimal posts with the fines to Cintas, it seems that the pendulum has swung to the opposite direction. This is not to say that the fines are excess to Cintas as compared to others, but I mean to say that the others should have been more in line with these.

It just does not make Horse Sense for one company in the Construction Industry to receive mere pats-on-the-back while a General Industry company is fined more severely. After all, I guess that one side of the fence is governed one way and the other side is governed differently!

Cintas Whacked With a Large Fine
Problems cited at industrial laundries in Mobile, other plants.
By Sean Reilly
Washington Bureau

Washington--Cintas Corp., the nation's largest uniform supplier, will pay almost $2.8 million to settle alleged health and safety violations at its industrial laundries in Mobile and five other locations around the country, including a Tulsa facility where a man died last year after being trapped in a 330--degree industrial dryer.

The agreement also requires that the Cincinnati-based company hire new safety and health coordinators, including one at its Mobile plant, and install new safeguards in its washing and drying operations over the next two years. It must take immediate, interim steps to protect employees in the wash areas, according to the settlement announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In return, federal labor regulators downgraded citations accusing the company of "willful" health and safety violations and took 10 percent off the amount of the fines originally proposed. Cintas did not admit to any wrongdoing.

In a statement, Acting Assistant Labor Secretary Thomas Stohler said the agreement is binding on the company and "will help create a more safety-conscious corporate culture." Cintas spokeswoman Pam Lowe called the plan "one of the most comprehensive, forward-looking safety programs designed for our industry." Before the settlement, the company had expanded training and taken other steps to improve safety, according to a release.

But while the fine is relatively large by OSHA standards, it amounts to 1 percent of Cintas' annual profits, said Eric Frumin, health and safety director for Unite Here, a New Your based union that represents laundry and garment workers. The settlement also sets no schedule for OSHA inspections to ensure compliance, Frumin said.

"If I were Cintas, I would not worry about OSHA inspectors showing up because of this agreement," he said.

In April, Cintas' safety record was probed in a congressional hearing that focused on the March 2007 death of the Tulsa employee, Eleazor Torres Gomez. Later that year OSHA proposed $196,000 in fines for the Mobile plant, citing 15 safety violations including an unguarded hole in the floor, as well as repeated failures to protect employees from electrical shock and implement measures to keep machines from starting accidentally.

The Mobile plant has about 120 employees; under the settlement, it is one of three Cintas facilities that must hire a full-time safety and health coordinator. The other two are in Tulsa and Columbus, Ohio.

plant in the wake of the agreement. Kurt It is unclear whether Mobile's OSHA office plans added oversight of the CintasPetermeyer, the office's newly named area director, referred questions Friday to an agency spokesman in Atlanta, who declined to comment.

The settlement terms will apply to other Cintas facilities in states where OSHA has direct oversight, but not to 41 Cintas plants in the 15 states that run their own health and sadfety programs under OSHA's authorization, Frumin said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vegas Newspaper Editorial

Las Vegas Sun Editorial
The Editorial from the Las Vegas Sun really makes Horse Sense in urging officials to work more closely to assure that the jobsites in the Vegas area are safe places to work.

What is the payoff for preventing one incident
that stops any worker from being killed or maimed? What is the value of keeping all workers safe on the job?

A simple Horse Sense approach to a good safety program that is conformed to prevent the workers on any jobsite from unsafe acts is worth untold monetary costs from loss of income to the workers and their families, the cost of workers comp for medical expenses, the higher cost of insurance to the contractors and the loss of good, producing craftspersons on the site.

I have advocated in previous posts that I oppose individual state and city safety programs that substitute for Federal OSHA. There are just plain too many versions of too many safe work approaches from one of these programs to the basic OSHA nationwide standards. It is well known that many construction workers move from state to state to perform construction work. Variying safety procedures from state to state, city to city, et al are confusing and dangerous to workers if consistant regulations are issued.

I commend the Sun Times for this Editorial and hope and trust that, not only the safe work practices in the Las Vegas area, but across the nation will be closely followed during the 2009 year.

Improving safety

Officials should press in the next year to make changes to help protect workers

Tue, Dec 16, 2008 (2:07 a.m.)

In the wake of six construction deaths at the massive CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip, state and federal investigators found 109 safety violations, including 42 that could have resulted in serious injury.

That number is high given that the inspections came after the high-profile accidents and a worker protest about safety on the job.

For example, a Las Vegas Sun analysis of the investigators’ reports found there were 20 violations of standards designed to keep workers from falling. That is troubling considering falls killed two workers at CityCenter and two workers at the neighboring Cosmopolitan, which is being built by the same general contractor, Perini Building Co.

Perini has said it is doing all it can to make the workplace safe and blames the deaths on workers’ mistakes. However, the government investigators’ reports paint a picture of a systemic problem on the job site, and a failure of government oversight.

As we have said before, Congress should overhaul the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency created to protect workers. But this isn’t just a federal issue. Nevada has its own agency, a miniature version of OSHA, that regulates safety in the state, and like its federal counterpart, it is understaffed and doesn’t have the resources to do the job. State officials had to call in federal OSHA inspectors to conduct the CityCenter review because it didn’t have the resources to do the job.

While Congress moves toward changing federal OSHA, state and local leaders can make a difference in Nevada by working to improve the state agency and its regulations.

On Wednesday state and local government officials are scheduled to meet with union and construction leaders at the Clark County Government Center, following up on a meeting they held in June. They plan to discuss policy changes that could improve worker safety, including whether to allow the practice of round-the-clock construction.

State lawmakers should pay attention to this group’s ideas and make worker safety legislation a priority next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Charlotte Worksite Still Dangerous

More Dangers Exposed on Worksite

The article below from Creative Loafing News from Charlotte by Ryan Pitkin exposes more dangers in the Wachovia tower project in downtown Charlotte.

In a post that I made on November 11th, I stated that I wondered why the public is allowed to pass down the street where materials are lifted up to the ever increasing heights. Apparently everyone who wishes to drive or walk by this site can and has been exposed to falling items onto the street and apparently a side walk cover built of plywood.

It seems as the powers that be that are permitting these conditions that expose the public need to back up and seriously look into the closure of this street and close the street and side walks during lift operations to protect the public.

Apparently, there is a real problem with Safe Work practices on this site that has resulted in at least one fatality and a number of injuries and "near misses." Again, I think it is long past due to use some Horse Sense pertaining to the on the job safety and the safety of the public in the area.

Wachovia tower incident provides window into worksite rules

Published 12.09.08
Karen Shugart

OSHA: Number of accidents at the Uptown project doesn't appear disproportionate

With one death and at least two other accidents within a month, the Wachovia tower Uptown may appear to have experienced more construction problems than usual. But appearances don't necessarily make it so.

"This is the biggest [Uptown] job site in Charlotte history, that I know about. If you were to combine the NASCAR Hall of Fame with the Epicentre project, it would be about that big. I wouldn't say it's a disproportionate amount so far, but if a couple more accidents were to happen, I might have to," said Robby Jones, local compliance supervisor of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA, the federal workplace safety regulator, has been called in to investigate the Dec. 2 death of Jonathan Beatty, a 24-year-old construction worker who was struck when a tool fell down an elevator shaft at the site, which is part of an massive mixed-use development.

Beatty's death followed other incidents. On Nov. 10, a crane dropped two steal beams, shattering building windows and sending shards toward pedestrians and vehicles below. And on Nov. 4, a similar incident occurred. That day, Leslie Hoppes and her daughter had just left the Discovery Place and were on their way out of town when glass rained down on her car, breaking the windshield, chipping her sunroof and flattening her tires.

"The only warning we had that something was wrong was that there was already glass in the street," Hoppes said not long afterward. "And we couldn't see that until we were right on top of it."

Hoppes was frustrated by what she felt was a seeming lack of concern for safety. "What worried me was that they didn't stop cars or pedestrians," she said. "They closed down the street long enough to sweep away the glass, and they said they stopped doing whatever it was that made the glass fall.

"I just keep thinking how lucky I am that it was a rainy day, or I probably would have had my sunroof opened," she said.

Perhaps one disturbing aspect of these incidents is that, excepting the Dec. 2 death, if they didn't happen on such busy streets, they would remain private matters. Employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 are only required to report incidents to OSHA if someone dies or three or more people are hospitalized. The Nov. 11 steel beam fall is also being investigated by OSHA, yet that might only be due to media attention, Jones said. Sometimes work sites are reluctant to call regulators. "There's a lot of accidents that happen at construction sites in Charlotte that nobody will ever know about," he said.

How can it be ensured that construction companies aren't just allowed to overlook potential safety hazards up until someone gets seriously hurt? Jones said OSHA has a "good relationship" with the Charlotte Fire Department. When the department goes to a construction site for any number of reasons, they know what to look for as unsafe, and they call OSHA and give them a heads up. Jones said, "I try to do as much as I can, but we just wouldn't have the manpower to watch every work site ourselves."

The first sign of trouble at the Wachovia site happened in August when a crane tipped over and landed on the Goodyear Auto Services Center on Stonewall. The subcontractor who employed the man working the crane was issued a citation, Jones said.

When an accident is reported, OHSA workers show up at the site to conduct interviews with witnesses and to make sure everybody was complying with regulatory standards, said Jones. When they feel they have acquired enough information, the investigator compiles a report and decides whether the company running the construction site should be issued a citation. This process usually takes between four and five weeks, said Jones.

Construction companies, such as Batson-Cook, the contractor in charge of the Wachovia site, gain "credit" from OHSA when they go certain periods of time accident free, said Jones. If a company is found to have a clean record after experiencing an accident, there will usually be a ten percent cut on any citation issued, he said. If the company has a history of problems, they pay the maximum amount, according to Jones.

"There's a misconception out there that OHSA is supposed to be there to keep the job safe, but that's not true," said Jones, "It's the construction company's job to ensure the safety of their workers. We are just the safety police. We come through and make sure everybody is complying with regulations, but we've never put people on sites to watch over the work."

Since its 1970 creation, OSHA has been a somewhat controversial agency, alternately criticized by conservatives for being an onerous burden on business and by liberals for insufficient resources and enforcement.

Regardless of whatever happens, Jones said, OSHA doesn't have authority to shut down jobsites.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Horse Sense Comes First

Horse Sense Use of a Safety Program

The article below from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, written by Mike Hampton, a Safety Expert for the Atlanta Office of Bovis Land Lease.

The content of Mike's article makes total Horse Sense. I am attaching this article to my blog in order to get his message spread out to as many people as possible.

I just want to congratulate Mike on this excellent article.

Construction safety programs need constant support

Monday, November 24, 2008

My heart sank the morning of Nov. 18, when I read the AJC’s article about a 15-year-old boy who died because he wasn’t wearing any safety gear while working on a construction site in Duluth (“Youth died without safety equipment at construction site,” Metro, Nov. 18). I’ve noticed that much of the coverage of the accident focused on the fact that Luis Montoya was too young to work on the construction site and shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But we can’t forget that the unfortunate death of Montoya could have happened to anyone, and will continue to, if something doesn’t change.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry and were responsible for 442 deaths nationwide in 2007, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Each one of those people could have been saved if their construction company had a better safety policy. For that reason, construction companies need to improve their safety practices and adopt meticulous safety programs to prevent tragedies like Montoya’s.

Effective safety programs are easily accessible and offered by numerous associations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Associated General Contractors, and Associated Builders and Contractors. According to their Web site, ABC members participating in their program have a 70 percent lower fatality rate and 50 percent lower incident rate than the BLS average. Because safety programs have such a dramatic effect on the lives of construction workers, it is imperative that they become the standard for our industry.

A primary way that safety programs reduce construction incidents is by adopting a policy of using safer building practices to eliminate the risk of injury while building. For instance, at Bovis Lend Lease, we don’t allow unsafe A-frame ladders of any kind on our construction sites, and instead use scissor lifts, baker’s scaffolds and podium-style ladders. We have also modified our formwork system and build concrete stairs while building floors so that no one is ever exposed to the kind of fall that killed Montoya.

Equally as important as instituting safer building practices is creating a culture of safety among co-workers. You can have all the rules and regulations in the world, but if your people don’t believe in the program, those efforts won’t matter. Most accidents happen in safe environments because workers choose to do the wrong thing. Taking shortcuts might save a little time, but they can dramatically increase the risk of the task. That’s why you can’t just hand workers a guidebook on the first day and never mention safety again. Supervisors have to be an example and emphasize the importance of safety on the first day of work and every day thereafter. If companies are consistent in their commitment to safety, you can change the way construction workers view those rules and guidelines and actually make people want to wear that hard hat and take the extra time to do a job safely.

Our firm is proof that safety programs can make a difference. Since we adopted our safety program, Incident and Injury Free, in 2002, our experience modification rate, calculated by number of incidents and cost of injuries, dropped from an already low .46 to an even better .34 within two years.

And yet, even though our company has become known for providing a safe construction environment, I worry that the next construction site our subcontractors work on won’t have the same emphasis on safety, and those same workers that were safe on our jobs might get hurt on another. The only roadblock to safety programs is that not enough construction companies are committed to making safety a priority. Having a written program as required by OSHA is not a commitment. Believing in the program and visibly supporting it at all levels of the organization is what is required.

Let’s not wait until someone gets injured or dies on a job site to improve safety policy. All construction companies should learn from Montoya’s death and re-commit to their safety programs.

• Mike Hampton, a construction safety expert, is principal-in-charge for the Atlanta office of Bovis Lend Lease, a project management and construction company.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Is A 16-year-old Working at Night

Note: See the second post on this fatality below.

Note 2: See article below showing OSHA's fines levied against the Contractor in this incident.

Why Was A Teenager Working
On a Demolition Site at Night?

The article below from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Andria Simmons is VERY disturbing relating to working anyone without proper Safety Equipment and Safety Training.

Why was a 16-year-old allowed to work on a demolition project on a school night, especially with NO SAFETY EQUIPMENT in use?

It is very obvious that Donkey Sense was in use on the site of a building being remodeled that allowed any workers to be working without proper safety equipment and no safety training having been provided. This seems to be one of the many sites all over this country that hires hispanic workers for small wages with no training so that the companies they work for can make big money and that they care nothing for the safety of their employees.

This is one incident that OSHA should use as an example and completely shut down the company this young man was working for and the owners of the site and fine them both for the maximum possible by law. There is just plain no excuse for these people being in business.

Teen dies in fall at construction site

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the deadly fall of a 16-year-old construction worker at Gwinnett Place mall this week.

A Gwinnett County police officer who arrived at the vacant Macy’s building shortly after Luis Montoya fell to his death at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday noticed there was “no safety equipment in site,” and none of the workers was wearing a hard hat. Instead, the hard hats were piled together on the second floor, a police report stated.

Montoya was tossing a step from a demolished escalator from the third floor to ground level when he lost his balance and fell over the ledge. He landed in a 5-foot-deep concrete pit at the bottom of the empty escalator well, said Ray Rawlins, an investigator with the Gwinnett County medical examiner’s office.

The teenager was working in the vacant Macy’s department store, which developer George Thorndyke is converting into a giant Asian ethnic shopping destination.

“He fell approximately 40 feet, so I don’t think a hard hat would have done much for him,” Rawlins said.

The late hours that Montoya was working on a school night are not illegal, said Elizabeth Todd, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor. Sixteen-year-olds can work an unlimited number of hours during the week. However, the law does not allow them to work in a “hazardous position,” Todd said.

Todd said it was difficult to say whether Montoya’s job would be considered a hazardous position without knowing his specific duties.

Generally, occupations involving wrecking and demolition are considered hazardous under U.S. labor law.

The accident site has been turned over to OSHA for further investigation. A spokesperson for OSHA’s Atlanta-East area office could not be reached Friday.

Montoya was employed by Demon Demolition, which is based in Suwanee. Neither company president Wayne Johnson nor developer George Thorndyke returned calls Friday.

A public relations company for Gwinnett Place mall issued a brief statement about Montoya’s death.

“We are extremely saddened to learn the news of his passing, and our thoughts are with his family,” the statement said.

Note: This is a followup post from Andria Simmons and Helena Olivero of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the post above.

This post indicated that the teen that was killed was only 15-years-old. And it points out that no 15-year-old is allowed to work on construction projects in the State of Georgia.

Stepdad: Teen was unprotected

Youth died without safety equipment at construction site

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A 15-year-old Lawrenceville boy was working without any safety equipment when he fell to his death at a construction site last week, his stepfather said Monday.

Raul Torres was at work with his stepson, Luis Montoya, at the old vacant Macy’s building at Gwinnett Place mall in Duluth when Montoya toppled through an empty escalator shaft and fell about 40 feet, from the third floor to the ground floor. Torres, who was in another area removing scrap metal, said Montoya wasn’t wearing a hard hat or safety harness.

“There was none of that, no protection,” Torres said in Spanish.

“There really should have been a supervisor saying, ‘You have to put this on before you go to work.’ Someone should have been responsible for this. But there was none of that.”

The death has thrown a spotlight on his employer, Demon Demo, and the Suwanee-based company’s hiring and safety practices.

A spokesperson for Demon Demo said the company is conducting an internal investigation and is actively cooperating with OSHA’s investigation.

An initial police report says Montoya was 16. However, authorities have since determined he was only 15.

“A minor in Georgia under state law is not supposed to be working in a construction site,” according to Sam Hall, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Labor.

“[A minor] is someone 15 years of age or under,” Hall said. “Clearly, he should not have been working in a construction site.”

Demon Demo is demolishing the Macy’s department store interior because it will soon be converted into a giant Asian ethnic shopping destination.

The company was fined by OSHA for a safety lapse in 2005, and the company had a repeat violation in 2008. Both violations involved employees not wearing a “body belt” or safety harness to prevent them from falling when using aerial lifts, said G.T. Breezley, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East area office. Demon Demo was fined $2,500 for the first violation. The second violation drew a $4,000 penalty, which later was reduced to $2,000.

Montoya’s brother, Lucky Montoya, said the family is “very angry” about the accident and believes safety violations played a role.

A police officer who arrived shortly after the accident at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday noted there was “no safety equipment in site.” No one was wearing a hard hat. Instead, the hard hats were piled on the second floor, the police report stated.

“He was a good kid,” said Lucky Montoya. “And he just wanted to go on with his life. He had dreams. He didn’t want any of this to happen.”

The family said Montoya had been expelled from Berkmar High School for disobeying a teacher at a football game. Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, could not confirm the details of the expulsion. She said the second-year freshman left school after facing a disciplinary panel in August.

Lucky Montoya said his brother was being home schooled and he hoped to return to Berkmar in the spring. Montoya decided to get the construction job to stay busy in the meantime and save up to buy a car, his brother said.

Below is an article from the Gwinnett Daily Post by Heath Hamacher, Staff Writer listing the fines levied by OSHA.

5/6/2009 12:01:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article
Company fined in teen's death

By Heath Hamacher
Staff Writer

ATLANTA - A Suwanee-based demolition company has been fined more than $50,000 following the accident in which an underage worker fell to his death about six months ago.

The penalty against Demon Demo Inc. is the first assessed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division under the Genetic Information Act of 2008. That act increased the maximum penalty to $50,000 for each child labor violation resulting in death or serious injury of a minor.

Fifteen-year-old Luis Montoya, of Lawrenceville, was working at the Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth last November when he plummeted three stories down an escalator shaft. Georgia law prohibits children under 16 years old from working at construction sites.

The company was fined an additional $3,162 for failing to keep accurate records and allowing Montoya to work in a hazardous occupation. The Labor Department's Mike D'Aquino said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied an additional $23,800 fine, the third such safety-related fine OSHA has hit Demon Demo with since 2005.

According to documents sent to the Daily Post by the Department of Labor, Demon Demo was cited in the latest incident for 10 "serious" violations and two other violations, including requiring employees to purchase personal protective equipment that should've been provided to them at no cost.

A police report written after the incident stated that there was no safety equipment in the area where the teen was working.

While some industries allow minors to work at what are considered dangerous work sites, the tasks they may perform are very specific and compliance is closely monitored by state and federal agencies, according to a Labor Department news release.

Demon Demo was also cited for failing to properly compensate 126 workers for overtime hours. As a result, the company will be required to pay nearly $109,000 in back wages.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Incidents, Same Site!

Two Incidents - Same Site - Who Cares?
In the two posts below, one by Rad Berky and the other by Ann Sheridan of WCNC channel 36, each one relates to a VERY DANGEROUS site safety incidents that happened at one site, yet the Safety Director does not indicate that OSHA has been notified! I know that Safety Directors don't want to have an incident that REQUIRES OSHA's participation, but in many cases OSHA can and will assist contractors in preventive safety procedures.

The two articles below, while very similar, indicate that there has not been adequate training of riggers, and or, crane operators and lift supervisors to assure that proper supervision by a Competent Person and proper rigging procedures have been followed.

Also, it seems that the Public is not adequately protected while lift operations that can allow materials to fall onto public streets. This is a VERY SERIOUS situation and should have been taken into consideration prior to any lifts and/or the possibility of materials falling from the structure onto the streets below. This should have been in a JOB SAFETY ANALYSIS PLAN before any lifts were made.

Construction beam falls, hits school bus

07:52 PM EST on Monday, November 10, 2008
By RAD BERKY / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Rad:


One beam bounced into the side of a school bus. The l bus was empty except for the driver, who was shaken up but not seriously hurt.

No one was injured as the beams fell 51 floors, breaking some of the newly installed windows in the Wachovia tower being built at the corner of South Tryon Street and Stonewall Street.

"I'm just thinking, 'Oh God, it's coming right at me," said Rick Dufrane who had just made a delivery in the area when the accident happened. "They started spinning around and bouncing and I jumped and when I did that I twisted my hip."

The 51-story building is being constructed by the Batson-Cook Co. of Atlanta. Project Manager Curt Rigney said the accident is under investigation.

"We will evaluate and see what was or wasn't followed and make any changes as need be," Rigney said.

He said there were strict procedures involved in securing any load lifted by the giant cranes.

This is the second incident at the site in a week. Last Tuesday a panel of glass fell to the street as it was being installed. No one was hurt but glass covered most of a city block.

Rigney said safety is the No. 1 priority on the job for the sake of the public and work crews.

Witness Rick Dufrane is just happy everyone was able to walk away.

"That was a close one. Very close," he said.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Regs Overzealous

Too Much Regulating?

The AP article below written by Amy Westfeldt is a prime example that I have written in previous posts cautioning City, State and Local organizations not to OVER write regulations, particularly in relation to cranes.

I have cautioned that Basic Guidelines under current and the new proposed new Crane Standards that OSHA has out for comments and will be effective in about a year.

If every City, State and Local organizations continue to write uninforcable regulations it will become impossible for contractors to be able to complete high rise constructon projects, particularly in large cities like New York. Also, with so many possible sets of regulations, contractors will have to hire all sorts of legal personnel to assure that they meet regulations of every different location that the contractors work in.

This type of over regulation just does not make Horse Sense, it more resembles operating the Donkey way. Therefore, I urge these different organizations to go back, re-read the basic OSHA guidelines that have been in effect since 1971, compare them to the PROPOSED new OSHA Standards that are available on-line, which refer them to Manufacturers' guidelines and adopt these OSHA Standards to their inforcement teams.


Construction industry: NYC regulations overzealous

NEW YORK (AP) — It takes a lot of paper to raise a crane in New York City these days.

On top of maintenance records and operator certification tests, engineers have to sign off before cranes are raised or dismantled. The city also requires documents that prove a safety meeting was held before work begins.

It may seem like a lot to ask for, but New York is seeking to become a national example after two deadly crane collapses in Manhattan killed nine people this year.

This year's spate of deadly accidents in New York and other U.S. cities, including Houston, Miami and Las Vegas, triggered the federal government in September to propose updated crane regulations for the first time in 40 years.

But New York has introduced more stringent rules governing constructions in addition to those required by the federal government, including laws that require training for tower crane workers, limit the use of slings that hold loads, and overhaul licensing requirements for mobile crane operators.

"We have worked closely with industry officials to develop checks and balances that are making construction sites safer than ever before," city Department of Buildings spokesman Kate Lindquist said. "There are thousands of construction sites in New York City that are managed without incident every day, and there is no reason why developers cannot build safely to avoid any preventable delays."

But the city's construction industry says the rules are difficult to follow, hard to enforce and often cause costly delays. Contractors say sites are often shut down for days or weeks for minor violations, like a missing piece of paperwork, and stopping work at a high-profile site can cost more $100,000 a day.

"In some respects, it's already overkill," said Louis Coletti, president of New York's Building Trades Employers Association. "You've got new rules and regulations coming out every day."

In midtown Manhattan, where a crane crashed into a town house on March 15 and killed seven people, a crane still hasn't returned to the high-rise development site. A crane at the site of a May 30 collapse that killed two workers was not re-erected until September.

Work stopped at both sites for months, and the latter site was ordered to stop again a week ago because of a missing permit.

Coletti said contractors have received orders from multiple inspectors with conflicting interpretations of building codes, and finding an inspector to lift an order can be as challenging as fixing the violation.

Contractors are most up in arms over a requirement for engineers or manufacturers to certify plans to raise tower cranes. They say professionals would be unlikely to approve plans for work they can't supervise.

Alfred G. Gerosa, executive director of the Cement League, whose members often contract out crane work, said in September that the rule could "shut down the entire tower crane industry in the city."

Frank Bardonaro, president of a suburban Philadelphia crane rental company and head of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association's crane safety task force, called New York's rules "unenforceable."

"Are you going to test every bolt, nut, bracing?" he asked.

The city maintains the regulations are standard across the construction industry and are necessary to ensure safety.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Training Needed in Lift Operations

Training Lacking for Lift Operations

The article below
from the Argus Leader, written by Steve Young is a prime example of the need for training in lift operations, especially for Trained and Certified Lift Supervision, Trained and Certified Riggers and Trained and Certified Crane Operators.

The statement that the operator was not at fault and that South Dakota does not require Crane Operators to be Certified. This Training and Certifications WILL be required upon the final issue of the new OSHA Crane Standards in a little over a year.

Site of crane accident inspected

Victim a father of four from Doon, Iowa

Steve Young • • October 22, 2008

A compliance officer with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was in Sioux Falls on Tuesday to investigate a crane accident that killed a 51-year-old welder from Doon, Iowa.

Henry Wayne VandenTop died Monday afternoon at Sanford USD Medical Center after a large boom on a crane struck him and knocked him 25 feet off the wall where he was working. The accident occurred at the site of an elementary school being built near 53rd Street and Tea-Ellis Road, police said.

Minnehaha County coroner Dr. Brad Randall performed the autopsy and said VandenTop "died of blunt chest trauma."

Bruce Beelman, OSHA's area director in Bismarck, N.D., said he had an officer in Sioux Falls investigating the incident. That officer did a thorough walk-around and inspection to ensure the work environment remains safe, Beelman said, and investigated the particulars of the accident as well.

VandenTop worked for Hoogendoorn Construction in Canton. Police said the welder was on top of a wall working while the crane boom operated above him. Some of the supports for the crane began to sink into the ground, and the back end of the crane came off the ground, bringing the boom down to crush VandenTop and knocking him off the wall.

Paul Maassen, a minority owner of Hoogendoorn, said the crane and its supports were resting on layered wooden pads, and some of the supports "sank with the wooden pads; everything went into the ground."

Maassen said he didn't know what caused the supports to sink.

"There's nothing I can really speculate on at this time," he said. "We need to stay with the inspectors. They'll eventually give us how they think it happened."

Maassen did say, however, that he didn't think operator error was the cause.

"We had our inspectors, our safety guys, out to check everything," he said. "They didn't see anything out of the ordinary."

South Dakota does not require crane operators to be certified, said Dawn Dovre, public information officer for the state Department of Labor. It is one of 35 states that do not require such certification.

Beelman said his office has up to six months to complete the investigation, though "I would not want to provide a specific time period or date" for it to be finished. The agency has standards that companies have to meet when operating cranes, including taking appropriate precautions to ensure cranes are not operated on unstable surfaces, Beelman said.

Maassen said he thought the OSHA inspector finished his on-site work Tuesday.

If OSHA determines any serious safety violations were involved, it could cite Hoogendoorn and levy a fine ranging from $375 to $7,000, Beelman said.

In extreme cases, where OSHA determines that a company willfully disregard safety standards, the fine can go as high as $70,000, Beelman added.

This summer, Hoogendoorn was assessed a $1,500 penalty for not having an adequate guardrail system at a construction site in Brookings, Beelman said. That fine was reduced to $750 when the contractor agreed to correct the problem immediately and improve its safety and health programs through training and better monitoring.

VandenTop was married and has four children. Family members declined to comment Tuesday. Maassen said VandenTop had worked for his company for 14 years and was a friend who liked to fish and loved his family.

"Our guys are all close," Maassen said. "They're all friends together. This is hard for all our guys. They know each other really well."

Arrangements are pending with Porter Funeral Home in Rock Valley, Iowa.

Reach reporter Steve Young at 331-2306.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Kids Get In On the Act

Kids Want Safe Work Sites, Too!

The article below in The Chief Engineer makes total Horse Sense in that the children of ASSE Members work hard each year producing Safety Poster Ideas for job sites all around the world. This is one of the best things I've seen that promotes Safe Work Practices for Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles of children who want them to return home at the end of each work day without injuries or fatalities.

I urge anyone who is an ASSE member to urge their children to participate in this great program.

7th Annual Safety-on-the-Job Poster Contest

Through the annual American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) kids’ “Safety-on-the-Job” poster contest, children illustrate what job safety means to them, their families and friends. Each of last year’s five winning posters had a different tag line, but same theme - ‘Construction Cats Wear Hard Hats’ (from 6-year-old Victoria Benigno, Cherry Hill, NJ); ‘Think Safety - The One Person Who Can Prevent Accidents Is You’ (7-year-old Tiffany Jade Heishman, Strasburg, VA); ‘Fortune Strikes Where Safety Thrives’ (10-year-old Immanuel Adriana Rakshana, Kuwait); ‘Safety in Different Languages, But It’s All The Same Thing’ (11-year-old Robin Newman, Madison, AL); and, ‘1 Pair of Safety Glasses - $15, 1 Hard Hat $40, Work Boots $120, Daddy Coming Home - Priceless!’ (13-year-old Meghan Baker of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick).

ASSE is launching the 7th annual kids’ ‘Safety-on-the-Job’ poster contest open to ASSE members’ children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, with a Valentines Day, February 14, 2009, deadline. ASSE members can also sponsor local schools, co-workers’ children and more to enter. The contest is open to children 5-14 with top prizes to be awarded to those in each of the five age groups that best illustrate being safe on the job.

Children in five age groups -- ages 5-6; ages 7-8; ages 9-10; ages 11-12; and ages 13-14 are invited to create and submit posters no larger than 11x14 that best illustrate being safe at work. Winners will be announced the first week of March. Entry forms and contest rules can be found at under the ASSE’s 7th Annual Kids’ “Safety-on-the-Job” poster contest link.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Law at Highway Incidents

Safety Vests Now Required at Roadside Incidents

The article below from the Daily American, written by Tiffany Wright indicates that a good, Horse Sense rule will become effective on November 24th that will require ANYONE at the scene of a roadside incident MUST wear highly visible, reflective vests. I highly applaud this new rule for the safety of Construction Workers, Fire and Safety personnel and News Media's protection.

Law will require workers to wear safety vests

In a few weeks, people working along federal highways will have to gear up in reflective safety vests when responding to an incident on public roads.

The new federal regulation, required by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, will go into effect Nov. 24.

The regulation states, “All workers within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic or construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.”

This goes for construction workers, firefighters responding to an accident or media covering an incident.

Melissa Melewsky, the media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, said the association supports the regulation.

“We agree that this is necessary,” she said. “Ultimately this is for the safety of roadside workers. If media are on the roadside they have the same risks, so it’s only proper to have the same precautions.”

The regulation is important to workers’ safety, as 43,000 fatalities occur on highways each year, said Doug Hecox, a spokesman with the Federal Highway Administration.

“All of these people are working on roads but none are protected by safety gear,” he said. “Sometimes reporters think nothing can happen because they’re only going to be out there one minute, but sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Kris Wyant, Berlin Area Ambulance Association captian, said even though his emergency responders already wear reflective gear it is good others will have to as well.

“I think it’s a good idea because it’s added safety for people out there working on the highway,” he said.

The employees in Berlin will also have to purchase new vests to update their current ones that are no longer in compliance with the regulation.

“Most of our stuff is no longer in compliance with the new regulations,” he said.

Although not complying with the law is not a crime, those not willing to comply may face repercussions.

“As far as newspapers go I can see access becoming an issue if reporters didn’t wear the proper equipment,” Melewsky said.

Financial funding could also be affected.

“Theoretically the state could lose billions of dollars in federal aid,” Hecox said.

Most of the public roads in Pennsylvania are maintained using federal funding, so the state would have to abide by the rule in order to secure funding.

The International Safety Equipment Association maintains a list of manufacturers that produce reflective apparel that is compliant with federal regulations. Visit to find a manufacturer.

(Tiffany Wright may be contacted at Comment on the online story at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Listen to the Expert

Excellent Source For Trench Safety Info

The article below written by William C. Byrne of the Memphis Commercial Appeal sheds a good light on a source of Safety Information regarding trenching operations. It seems that the owner of Trench Safety and Equipment of Memphis, TN and North Litttle Rock, AR has knowledge that can be obtained from this company that will help make trenching much safer. As it pointed out in the below article, Trenching operations cause about 100 workers each year.

One fatality is Ten too many as the vast majority of these uncalled for deaths is the lack of proper planning, lack of a Competent Person and just plain "not placing brains in gear before placing trencher in motion." I hope readers will attain necessary information that is available either from this company or other sources to stop these useless fatalities.

Use the Horse Sense Approach to all Safety Related Situations.

Trench expert offers safety precautions

It's inevitable that a ditch will collapse, he says, so be prepared

All ditches eventually will cave in, an expert on ditch and trench safety said Wednesday.

"The only question is the timing," said David Dow, vice president, secretary and treasurer of Trench Safety and Equipment, which has offices in Memphis and North Little Rock.

Dow's firm rents bracing and blocking equipment to shore-up the walls of ditches and trenches and also provides training for utility companies involved with trenching.

He did not go to the site of the deadly cave-in in Horn Lake's Holly Hills subdivision Tuesday night, but he said the cave-in there was similar to a number of incidents in the Mid-South over the years.

"Trenching is one of the deadliest components of construction work," he said. "At one time, there were as many as 400 deaths attributed to trenches annually.

"In 1990, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) published rules regarding trench safety," he said.

Among the requirements:

Having a competent person on hand at all times when people are working in the trench. The designated person would have authority to stop unsafe acts or to order workers out of the trench at any time.

Removing or blocking and bracing any surface encumbrance -- any item on the ground surface that might fall into the trench or lead to a cave-in.

Classifying the soil type. Some soil types are more likely to give way than others.

All trenches deeper than five feet must have safety equipment in place.

"The safety precautions could be sloping the trench away from the main opening to prevent a cave-in; using a shoring system to hold up the walls of the trench, or what is called a trench shield -- a safety box that would protect the workers even if the walls of the trench collapsed," he said.

Dow, 57, who has been working in the area of trench safety since 1984, said trench construction accidents still cause up to 100 deaths annually.

"Cave-ins are predictable. Every trench ultimately will cave in," he said. "It's just a question of timing."

-- William C. Bayne: (662) 996-1408