Friday, February 29, 2008

Horse Sense Safety

Personal Fall Arrest Systems

OSHA Standard 1926.502(d)

Personal fall arrest systems and their use SHALL comply with the provisions set forth below.

All Dee–rings and snap hooks shall have a minimum tensile strength of 5,000 pounds. All harnesses and lanyards shall be able to withstand a minimum of 5,000 pounds of force. No alterations to any part of a fall arrest system shall be made to compromise the integrity of the system.

Personal fall arrest systems, must bring an employee to a complete stop and limit maximum deceleration distance an employee travels to 3.5 feet and, have sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential impact energy of an employee free falling a distance of 6 feet or free fall distance permitted by the , system whichever is less.

The above items are paraphrased from the standards and are applicable to Horse Sense actions. The items below are some “Donkey” items that many workers don’t do, don’t understand or just plain don’t think.

What about a person working off a platform that is 10 feet off the floor or ground? They should be anchored to something that will withstand the noted 5,000 pounds of force. They should be anchored 6 feet (the length of the lanyard) PLUS 3 ½ feet (the length of the acceleration device. Distances are to be computed as the bottom of the worker’s feet. The anchor point (snap hook) SHALL be the locking type to prevent rollout; not snapped back to the lanyard unless the snap hook and lanyard are designed for that purpose.

What about the worker that is standing on a platform and is anchored to a point that is even with or below the feet of the worker? Their fall distance will exceed the maximum allowed falling distance stated in the standard.

What about a worker that is moving from one place to another while still in a possible fall? They must have a second lanyard to connect to a safe point prior to disconnecting the first lanyard.

What about the worker that has a harness that is too large for them. So many times, I have seen workers take a pocket knife and cut a hole past the grometed holes in the harness to be able to get the harness to fit their body. When this happens, the entire harness must be destroyed as the integrity of the harness has been compromised. Harnesses MUST be of a proper size to fit the worker’s body.

What about the termination date that the harness manufacturer has placed on the tag of the harness? Harnesses MUST not be used past its termination date.

What about the lanyards that show excessive wear that creates a hazard of meeting the 5,000 pound force limit? These MUST be destroyed so that they cannot be used.

It doesn’t take much use of Horse Sense to properly check the safety and integrity of a Fall Protection System.

Check all parts of your Fall Protection system prior to EACH use.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Safe Rigging Equipment

Horse Sense Safety

Safe Rigging Equipment

OSHA Standard – 1926.251

“Rigging equipment for material handling shall be inspected prior to use as necessary during its use to ensure that it is safe. Defective rigging equipment shall be removed from service.”

This standard, as stated, is one that should be automatically followed by workers using this equipment. It only makes Horse Sense to do so. But, (always the butt), a high percentage of workers pay little attention to the condition of slings, hooks and material handling equipment.

I have seen workers that were too lazy or too careless with rigging that they will pick up an old used wire rope sling that has broken strands protruding from the wire rope that will, literally, stick into the worker’s hands while using them while a new or one in much better condition lies in a gang box. The “donkey” mentality causes them to think that taking a few steps across the jobsite to get a new sling or other rigging equipment is too much trouble.

Trouble? What about wrapping a sling around a big bundle of reinforcing steel, taking no consideration of the weight of the load compared to the capacity of the sling in good condition? Or, how many times does a rigger even take a few seconds to compare the rated load of the sling to the weight of the item to be lifted?

Wire rope slings that have been “choked” around loads many times will “open” the lay of the rope and cause breakage of the individual wires in the strand. The condition of synthetic (nylon, polyester or polypropylene), slings can deceptively unsafe without close inspection on every use. The general “rule of thumb” attention attractor is a RED thread woven through each edge of the sling material. When this red string begins to show, the sling shall be removed from service. At this point, the “horse sense” action is to destroy and dispose of this sling so that is it can’t be used again.

Horse Sense with Rigging Equipment? Simple. Take just a few minutes to properly inspect the equipment you are using at EACH USAGE. Throw away unsafe rigging.

Think Safety. Work Safely. Use Horse Sense when using rigging equipment at each use.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Horse Sense Safety

Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment (PPE)

OSHA Standard - 1926.100

Hard Hat Sense

In my many years in the construction industry, particularly from the Safety side, I have witnessed so many safety shortcuts, even blatant refusal to use any resemblance of common or Horse Sense that they were to the point of being funny. They were funny in the sense that they more resembled an act akin to attempting fate with a dare to beat the safe way to perform a task.

Some of the things I’ve seen would add up to so many OSHA willful violations that the contractors would never be able to pay all the huge monetary penalties levied by OSHA. Of course there were many, many of these things that were experienced long prior to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) act. Prior to the existence of OSHA, there were no existing written standards for safe work practices unless the work was done under a US Army Corps of Engineers or other governmental or insurance company rules. The general “rule of thumb” would only rely on Horse Sense.

I have seen hard hats worn on construction sites that were only good for wearing in a meat packing facility and called “Bump Caps.” They would not withstand falling objects that are subject to exist on construction projects.

Some of the hard hats that would comply with American National Standards institute (ANSI) standards, which OSHA includes in their regulations, when they were made, but would never meet even the lowest of safe work practices of the day.

Some of these items would be: to drill several 3/8 to 1/2 inch diameter holes around the hat to allow fresh air to flow through. This totally ruined the integrity of the hat.

Another item would be to have hats made of aluminum being worn around electric lines or heating up the bills of hard caps, metal or plastic, and turn them up so the worker could have a “less obstructed view” when looking up. Again, the integrity of the hat was gone.

Other such things as seeing how many different contractors’ or vendors’ stickers the worker could find to stick on the hat with no regard to the compatibility of the composition of the hat and the glue on the stickers.

Another was to paint plastic hard hats with different types of paint that could cause the plastic to react with the paint making the plastic brittle and change the integrity of the hat. Some of these painted hats were beautifully painted with scenes of art. But beautification is not good if it ruins the hat.

Another item would include wearing a hard cap with the bill turned backward, again with the excuse of giving “more upward vision” and not protecting the face and eyes of the wearer.

Another problem would be that the worker loved his old hat so well that the suspension would be worn out not allowing it to provide protection in case of a falling object striking the hat, or altering the suspension causing loss of integrity.

Still, little attention is paid to the expiration date the manufacturers have provided to the wearer. There is a “shelf life” on all hard hats.

Use your hard hat for protection of your head and face. Do not alter the integrity of the protection provided for this item of Personal Protective Equipment.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Honey, Please Hold the Ladder!

The following article was written by Micki Savage in the February 15, 2008 issue of the Washington County (AL) News.

A few weeks ago my brother-in-law, Kenneth had one of those freak ladder accidents. You know the kind, the kind you can’t laugh about until after you find out if the person is still breathing or not.

To make a long story short, let’s just say Kenneth went on the worst ladder ride of his life. He started his ride by securing (and I use that word loosely) the ladder and climbing to the roof top. Kathy (his helpful and loving wife) warned him that the bottom of the ladder didn’t look secure. Kenneth repositioned the ladder and headed for the roof.

Now this is where the story gets colorful and Kenneth has the black and blue marks all over his body to prove it. Just as he reached the top, the bottom of the ladder slipped and Kenneth rode the ladder all the way down the side of the house, crashing onto the deck and an outdoor pipe. Needless to say, the 15 minutes after the fall were total madness.

Kenneth was rolling on the deck, moaning in pain, and Kathy was screaming as she watched him roll around the deck. The dogs were barking, and water was blasting everywhere from the broken pipe. Man! How quickly a small home repair can turn into a nightmare!
And to think, this whole incident may have been avoided by saying five little words: “Honey, please hold the ladder.”

Ladders are useful tools, but if you do not follow the proper safety tips, you could hurt yourself. In fact, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 547,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics, and other medical settings in 2007 because of injuries related to ladder use. Most injuries are cuts, bruises, and fractured bones.

To prevent ladder falls, here are some DO’s and DON’Ts:

  • Inspect ladder before using
  • Place on firm and level surface
  • Face ladder when climbing up or down
  • Keep three points of contact when on a ladder
  • Use the correct ladder for the work performed
  • Secure an extension ladder on top and bottom whenever possible
  • Keep your body within the rails of the ladder while working on it
  • Watch out for overhead power lines when using the ladder
  • Have a second person hold the bottom of the ladder (this one’s for you, Kenneth!)
  • Extend an extension ladder three feet beyond the top surface the ladder is resting on
  • Destroy the ladder if broken, worn, or damaged beyond repair. Use fall protection if possible.


  • Use a worn or damaged ladder
  • Paint a wooden ladder. This covers up imperfections
  • Carry tools and material up a ladder
  • Use an extension ladder as a platform. A ladder is designed with vertical, not horizontal strength
  • Use a step ladder as an extension ladder
  • Over extend an extension ladder
  • Have more than one person on a ladder at a time
  • Use a ladder in high wind conditions
  • Use a ladder on a scaffold
  • Stand on the top of a step ladder
  • Use a metal or aluminum ladder near electrical power lines
  • Use ladder as scaffold uprights
  • Use the rungs of a ladder for a winch point
  • Place the top of a ladder against a flexible or unstable surface like a window or place the ladder rung against a beam
  • Leave a ladder unattended for extended periods of time


  • Calmly assess the situation, and determine if you are hurt.
  • Get up slowly
  • If you feel that an injury has occurred that prevents standing or walking, don’t panic. Call for assistance. If the injury is serious, call 911.
  • If you are not injured, rest a while and regain you composure before climbing again.

So, to all you weekend handymen, happy climbing!

Where is the Horse Sense?

Follow the recommendations in the DO’s and DON’T’s and IF YOU FALL’s listed in this article. All the above make complete the sense of a horse by THINKING about what you are doing and planning ahead to work safely.

Don’t use the “south end of a northbound donkey” while attempting to do any type work off a ladder.


Friday, February 8, 2008

"Safety Man"

I started out in Safety on construction projects as a part of my duties on a U S Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) Mississippi Test site project (now named Stennis Space Center ) near Bay St. Louis, MS. The safety procedures on this project were in force at all Corps projects long before the U S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970.

Each week, I was responsible to hold a safety meeting with all the workers on the particular site on the project. Also, I was to keep a critical eye on all work procedures throughout the week to assure that the work was being performed in a safe manner. This created my first "extra hat" to my job responsibilities.

The Corps safety manual taught me the basics of construction site safety management. Then, when the OSHA Act came into being, I was told by my company's management, "You're it!" This responsibility as "Safety Man" was added to the other "hats" such as Field Engineer to layout new project work sites, Equipment Superintendent responsible for the maintenance of all construction equipment and Purchasing Agent, purchasing all materials and tools for all the ongoing projects in the Mobile, AL area. Also, I was responsible for "selling" OSHA Safety Regulations and duties to company management personnel, encouraging them on the adavantages of a safe work site and decrease the costs of Insurance.

Later, I moved to Oak Ridge, TN with another company as Equipment Superintendent. This job required me to be responsible for assuring that 277 vehicles, over 100 items of large construction equipment and numerous items of small-engine equipment were maintained and ready to operate. Also, I was responsible to assure that each item was in a safe condition to operate and for developing and managing an equipment operator certification program for cranes and for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials. So, I went back to wearing my "Safety Man" hat along with the other management "hats."

Later, I was transferred to Maine as Materials Manager, responsible for all materials ordered, expedited, received, stored and issued for installation on a large paper mill project. Also, I had responsibility to have needed construction equipment on site and ready to operate and that all operators were safety trained on the type equipment that they were to operate. I still wore the "Safety Man" hat to some degree.

After Maine, I attended a class called "OSHA-500" at the OSHA Institute in Des Plaines, IL. This class was a "Train the Trainer" course that trained attendees to teach OSHA 30-hour and 10-hour safety classes that are now required by most all industrial plants in the country.

After the 500 class, I was assigned to a project in northwest Alabama as night shift supervisor and "Safety Man" on a large aluminum plant addition. When that project was completed, I returned to the Mobile area as "Safety Man" on a textile plant project that had experienced 3 lost-time injuries. The project was complete a year later with no more lost-time cases.

Later, I worked for two years in supervisory positions at projects in the Mobile and Sulphur, LA areas as "Safety Man" and Structural Project Supervisor. Upon completion of those projects, a major expansion was added to the textile plant. I returned to that site as "Safety Man" and compiled a Safety Program for that site and scripted and directed the filming of training videos for the project, and I managed the Safety Program for over two years.

After that project was completed, I went went into business as Safety Consulting - Jim Wood. I wrote a Safety Program and did the scripting and shooting of safety training videos for a pharmaceutical plant in Athens, GA. I was the "Safety Man"on that project for over two years.

After that project was completed, I retired, or at least "semi-retired." I have been doing safety consulting work and expert witness work for the past eight years. I have recently completed an update on the OSHA 500 class and plan to do safety training for workers in the Mobile area as required by most every plant in the area. Also, I have been doing relief for an on-site "Safety Man" on a plant project.

I have always used the "Horse Sense" approach to Safety. That is really what a safe work procedure is. If workers will pause just a few seconds before beginning a task to do it the safe way, it adds up to be Horse Sense. I often tell workers that there are enough "donkeys" around that go merrily along not "Thinking Safety." There is always a safe way to do a task by using the Horse Sense way.

Often, I see former workers from some of the projects I've been on and they'll say, "Hello Safety Man." Sometimes it is hard to recognize them without hard hat, safety glasses and work boots!

I guess that, over the years, I can still be called the "Safety Man!" This is a name I cherish as it lets me know that I've had a part in helping construction workers from Alabama to Texas to Tennessee to Maine to work safely so that they may return home to their families at the end of each work day in as good condition as when they left home that morning. I just like the feeling that I have actually helped someone keeping someone from being maimed or killed on the job site.

Be safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!