Sunday, June 29, 2008

Someone Has Begun to Use Horse Sense!

Oklahoma Contractor Using Horse Sense

The following article below shows that Flintco has taken "the bull by the horns" and has come up with a comprehensive safety training agenda for it's crane operators as well as for some of it's subcontractors.

Many things have been written about the many crane incidents around the country. Many of the articles have purposed that MORE TRAINING would be a great help in preventing crane failure problems. This company is to be congratulated in putting the Donkey Way of doing business and replacing it with the Horse Sense way.

Published June 27, 2008 12:00 am - Flintco has a lot of reasons to be safety conscious.

With construction sites all over the country, there's a lot of room for errors. Errors that could cause injuries or even fatalities.
And in the game of construction, it seems the bigger the piece of equipment the more deadly.

The safer the sooner
(Note: the "sooner" can refer to the Oklahoma Sooners!)

By Julianna Parker

Flintco has a lot of reasons to be safety conscious.

With construction sites all over the country, there's a lot of room for errors. Errors that could cause injuries or even fatalities.

And in the game of construction, it seems the bigger the piece of equipment the more deadly.

"The crane is the most dangerous piece of equipment on the site, bar none," said Mike Bailey, director of operations at Flintco who has worked with cranes for more than 30 years.

During the first six months of 2008, there were 178 crane-related accidents in the U.S., resulting in 90 fatalities, according to

Flintco always has been safety-conscious, and recently was recognized by The Associated General Contractors of America as among the top three companies in the nation with the best safety record.

"It's a culture (of safety)," said Mark Grimes, Flintco Oklahoma City Division president. "It's something that everyone can say they're safe, but to actually do it and mean it is a different story."

That business philosophy should be reassuring, because Flintco has about eight cranes working in Norman on its construction projects.

The construction company recently launched a training program for those working on its projects with cranes, the equipment hundreds of feet tall that's used to move loads around on construction sites.

The training was initiated after a crane accident that fortunately didn't injure anyone, but was still alarming, Grimes said.

Since the time of the incident, Shawn Cosby has been hired by Flintco. He told his supervisors he could begin training for Flintco employees who work with cranes. Cosby worked with cranes for 22 years and developed a crane operator curriculum while teaching at the Oklahoma College of Construction.

In September, Cosby began teaching classes. Already 43 employees have completed the program and 19 employees of subcontractors have undergone the training.

There are five levels in the class, with each level taking about four hours of class time to complete. Employees must pass every level in order to work with cranes.

The training focuses on the knowledge needed to signal and rig, as well as the national standards that are being created, Cosby said. Workers are trained to American National Standards Institute and Occupational Safety and Health Administration specifications.

Certification is something that's recently come to national attention as more focus is put on doing construction well.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lack of Fall Protection Fatal to 19-year-old Worker

The attached article from Western Michigan Business Review, by Jake La Duke, indicates that improper provisions were made to assure that workers were not properly protected from falling through holes on this job site. They were not in compliance with OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(4) "

The value of the life of this young worker was placed at $40,000, according to the fine levied by the young man's company and
MI OSHA. Is this enough to pay for a Willful violation? This just doesn't make Horse Sense to me.

I have seen Donkey Type situations like the one that caused this type fall or a "Near Miss" situation. Fortunately, none of these have caused a fatality. In many cases, Hole Covers are no more than a small piece of plywood laid loosely over a hole. Also, many cases of unprotected "leading edge" situations while workers are placing floor and/or roof decking. In one particular case, I was hired to replace a safety person after a worker "rode down" a loose sheet of decking.

Folks, this type situation is totally unaccepted work practices.

Contractors fined for fatality

by By Jake La Duke | Business Review Western
Wednesday June 25, 2008, 4:09 PM

Three western Michigan contractors were among five fined by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a fatal accident at a Detroit construction site in March.

The contractors were fined more than $40,000 for safety violations that resulted in the death of 19-year-old construction worker Scott Austin, who fell 60 feet at the Studio One Apartment building in downtown Detroit.

Houseman Construction of Grand Rapids was fined $11,000; Probuild of Delton $6,000; RJO Mechanical & Residential Plumbing of Portage $6,000; TNT Excavating of Howell $10,950; and Assemblers Inc. of Pinckney $6,100. The contractors have 15 working days to pay or appeal the fines.

Austin worked for TNT Excavating for less than one week when he fell through unsecured roof covers that were covering holes in the top of the building.

Bob Pawlowski, director of MIOSHA's division of construction safety and health, said falls are the leading cause of construction fatalities. In 2007, five of the 11 total construction deaths were caused by falls. In 2006, it was nine out of 26.

Pawlowski said the five companies were cited because they knew that the holes in the roof were present, but failed to either put up barricades or to secure the hole covers adequately.

"We believe everybody knew," he told the Ann Arbor Business Review. "Each employer is required to provide what is necessary to protect their employees."

Other violations in the incident included a lack of training, lack of an accident prevention program and inadequate inspections for hazards.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Does OSHA Need to Step Up to Protect Construction Workers?

Joel Shufro, of the New York Daily News, offers this view about the need for more direct OSHA intervention in construction safety issues. It's worth taking a look.

My Comments;

Regarding OSHA's slot enforcement of regs on ALL construction projects, it is totally impossible to cover them all. This is the primary reason that the Labor Department has encouraged states and large cities to organize State and Local OSH Agencies to help cover this huge task.

I do agree that OSHA Regs should not take an eternity to bring standards up to date as with the 1971 crane regulations. Also, as I have noted in other posts, I feel that the Monetary penalties should be increased when it is very apparent that incidents are caused by Willful reasons.

The blaming of the Bush Administration is TOTALLY unfounded. You have to realize that it is NOT THE PRESIDENT, but the CONGRESS that makes the laws and governs them whether it is Republican, Democrat or Independent prominent groups. The President can only urge the Congress to make changes, enact certain laws, etc.
To blame any "Administration" for these type rules and laws, you can go back to every Administration since prior to the 1970 OSHAct and not to BLAME these Presidents, but praise them with all the GOOD things that they have encouraged the Congress to enact.

The remarks about Union/non-union has some merit. However, in some areas of the country the Unions have fallen down on their training of skilled workers in safe work practices as well as craftsmen to fill jobs. But, it is very true that non-union workers are only trained to follow safe work practices in accordance with OSHA regs that SPECIFICALLY require and that owners require on their job specifications.

I'd like to know YOUR thoughts on this post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Horse Sense Approach to Crane Safety

Union Using Horse Sense Approach to Crane Safety

The item below from The Express Times, written by Kurt Bresswein, indicates that the Operating Engineer Union officials are working towards more safe-work conditions by training crane operators in Safety regarding the operating and inspecting cranes. This is a SUPER attitude and should vastly improve the safety records on all type cranes on construction sites.

Also, noted is the fact that Signal person and Rigging standards are to be available soon.

These groups are to be commended for their efforts in promoting safety on construction sites and statistics should be evident in the near future.

Federal eyes miss Bethlehem cranes

No government official has inspected machines at casino site. But others have done the job.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Express-Times

BETHLEHEM | Four cranes rise above the roofline of the $800 million Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem midway through construction, with smaller ones below sharing the load.

Despite 18 crane-related deaths and 13 injuries since December nationwide, not one government official has set foot on site for an inspection.

The city's chief code official, Craig Hynes, said temporary equipment falls outside city building codes. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry says crane inspections are up to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"We do proactive inspections for industries that have a pretty high injury and illness rate," OSHA spokeswoman Leni Fortson said. "Construction is definitely one of those."

But as of Friday, OSHA had not made one of its random inspections at the casino property, Fortson said.

Rising as high as 950-foot South Mountain a neighborhood away, the cranes receive daily inspections by certified operators, according to Jim Reilley, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542. The union represents crane operators and related jobs of signalperson and rigger.

The union maintains a facility in Bernville, Berks County, to train its workers on tower cranes -- the tallest ones, their bases encased in concrete -- and mobile cranes that move about on treads or tires.

Crane operators receive certifications good for five years by passing written and practical tests conducted by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators based in Fairfax, Va. Testing is done throughout the country, including as close as Absecon, N.J., and Harrisburg.

Signalperson and rigger certification programs are expected to start by year's end, the commission says.

"We hope to ensure as much as humanly possible the safety on the particular sites," Reilley said.

Among the worst recent incidents was March 15 in New York, when a 19-story crane broke away from an apartment tower under construction, killing six construction workers and a tourist. Ten days later, a crane at a condo project in Miami fell 30 stories, killing two workers and injuring five. Another two workers died in a 200-foot crane collapse May 30 in New York.

Other incidents have occurred in Port Washington, Wis.; Pacific Junction, Montpelier and Adar, Iowa; Parole and Dundalk, Md.; Iatan, Mo.; Las Vegas; and Wright, Wyo.

The high-profile accidents belie the relative safety of everyday operations, said Dennis Bates, vice president of the tower division for AmQuip Crane Rental. With its headquarters in Bensalem, Pa., AmQuip rents cranes locally at Schoenersville Road and Route 22 in Bethlehem.

Tower cranes alone number about 3,000 in North America, with about 2,100 in operation on any given day, Bates said. With a conservative estimate of 50 lifts and picks a day, that's 105,000 daily operations that never make headlines.

AmQuip's efforts to ensure safety begin with going beyond federal OSHA standards, Bates said. In-house technicians certify cranes for use once they're erected, and the company uses professional engineers to design foundations and tie-ins.

Operators do their own daily inspections, and the company tests every connection and bolt once a crane returns from a job. They also hire independent overseers.

"We as a company, as AmQuip, we go out and hire third-party inspectors to inspect our inspectors, our technicians," Bates said.

Construction on the South Side Bethlehem casino complex began in April 2007. Opening day is set for early summer 2009. Efforts failed to reach a representative of Las Vegas Sands Corp., the parent organization of developer Sands BethWorks Gaming LLC, for comment.

Reporter Kurt Bresswein can be reached at 610-867-5000 or by e-mail at

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grass Mowing Safety Pays Off

Even Small Tractors can be Dangerous

The following story was posted in the Friday, June 13th issue of the Washington County (AL) News. It was written by Jason Boothe, News Staff Writer.

The Lady in this article definately used Horse Sense when mounting her small tractor with a finishing mower attached. I have seen oh, so many people get on a small farm tractor around the farms as well as tractors on construction job sites that are equipped with Rollover Protection Equipment, and start operating it on sloping areas without fastening their seat belt. This lady wasn't playing "Donkey" when she mounted her tractor, she fastened her seat belt. Horse Sense.

Note: Seat belts should not be on equipment without ROPS equipment.

Personally, when I mount my 45 hp farm tractor, I always fasten my belt even if I'm not going anywhere with sloped surfaces. Tractors running in pastures, etc. that are rough terrain tend to "bounce" and jostle the operators. The seat belt prevents the operator from being jostled out of the seat.

Tibbie Resident Cheats Death
A Tibbie, (AL) resident is lucky to be alive after her Kubota tractor rolled over onto its side with her strapped to the seat.

Charlotte Williams was cutting grass near her home around lunch June 7, when suddenly the tractor she was driving began to turn onto its side.

"I was cutting the large ditch below the house," Williams said. "I was about to make my second trip back around and one of the front wheels of the tractor sunk down in a hole. That's when it started to tip over. I was scared because all I could hear was the blades of the finishing mower turning behind me."

Williams said thte seat belt and the tractor's roll bar probably saved her life.

While Williams was still trapped in the tractor's seat, first responders were called in to help. Members of Tibbie and Epworth Volunteer Fire Departments arrived to help Williams. They managed to free her from the tractor. Jets Ambulance Service transported Willians to a local hospital with minor injuries.

"I was just hanging there," Williams said. "I'm glad I was wearing my seat belt or I might hot be here today. I'm sore an dI have a bruise or two but I'm all right. I would like to thank everyone who helped me."

New York Getting Tough

The article below indicates that New York City Council is getting tough on violators of their Safety Rules in their city. This not only includes construction work, but includes Architects and Engineers responsibilities.

I feel that taking the problem by the reins, New York is beginning to use Horse Sense in combating so many Donkey ways that people are getting injured and killed in construction incidents in their City.

New York: Bill for construction sites safety

2008-06-14 15:25:50 (GMT) ( - News) New York City, New York

CNN reported that City Council passed a general bill on Thursday which requires the worried Buildings Department for reporting disciplinary actions taken against the professional architects and engineers which may take away their licenses from them. In that 47-0 election, the city council also issued a bill which requires the department for posting an online update every month relating to injuries and death related to construction on its website. Both the bills require the Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sign them. While the first bill will come into immediate effect as soon as the Mayor signs it, the second one will be applied after 90 days of signature.

On May 30, a crane collapsed which killed 2 construction workers at the Upper East Side and on March 15, a crane toppled on the midtown street killing 7. The officials have reported that the number of people died in construction was 12 in 2007 and 16 people have already died in 2008 and now it is just half of the year gone.

The bills passed will be improving the reporting and public information and will cracking down on people who act wrongly and misuse their licenses. According to the first bill, the department will be required to send notice within 10 days to that state and also to report the actions taken against architects and engineers during the past 5 years. These reports will be mailed to the Education Department which may even strip them of their license.

The councilwoman, Brooklyn Democrat and sponsor of the bill, Letitia James, said that this piece is designed for addressing safety. The web posting for construction injuries and death will include location of incident, name of developers, any other violations and specific details. Councilman and Brooklyn Democrat, Erik Martin Dialn, who is also chairing the Buildings and Housings Sub-committee and is a bill sponsor says that this bill will help in limiting the accidents at construction sites.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Second Crane Incident in Dallas

A Second Crane Incident

Here we go with another case of the "Construction Crane Fever!" It seems as there is a vast virus going around the country that I call "Crane Fever!" There seems to be a huge number of crane Tip Overs, Boom Failures, Cables Snapping, Load Drops, and Tower Cranes Coming Apart all over.

The article below from Injury notes that a cable fitting came apart. I don't have all the facts, but it seems like a Pendant Line has broken. According to several Crane Inspection and Training businesses, pendants should be replaced at certain time periods. A "Fail Safe Test must be made at certain times." Was this done? I don't know. But, this can be a real problem, especially when a crane is booming up from ground level.

Another Crane Accident Injures 3 Workers At New Cowboys StadiumJune 13, 2008 - 05:16 PM
Category: Workplace Injuries
Tags: Crane Accident
Posted by: Scott Kappes

A crane accident at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium Thursday left tree men injured after they were force to jump from a crane cab to avoid equipment and cables falling from another crane. One worker was taken by CareFlite helicopter to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and the other two were transported to the same location by ambulance. This accident comes just one day after a crane accident near downtown Dallas killed one worker.

Thursday's accident happened about 2 p.m. between the stadium's dual arches just outside the northeast end zone. The workers were assembling a crane when a cable connector "failed" on the erecting crane, which allowed the cables and some other parts to fall, according to a written statement from Manhattan Construction.

Highly publicized crane accidents in New York and Miami claimed nine lives earlier this year and this is the second crane accident in the Dallas area in as many days. This is simply unacceptable. Something must be done to ensure that crane safety improves drastically in the near future.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mobile Crane Brakes Failed

The article below was written by Robin Pyle of the Avalanche-Journal. The article noted that the crane in question had been Safety Certified. However it did not note how long ago it was Certified.

Any number of things can occur with any type hoisting equipment. One item that can easily cause friction drum brakes to fail is the type lubricants used. If the lubricant is not designed for High Temperature use, it can melt down, get on the brake drums and cause the "lack of friction" on the brakes. There can be brake fluid lines that burst causing fluid to leak out. As I said, there are MANY causes of brake release on cranes. This is a primary reason for DAILY, and MONTHLY inspections, as well as ANNUAL Certifications of all cranes.

It seems as the two workers will survive this incident, they were fortunate that they aren't listed as fatalities. Workers within the reach of crane booms should be evacuated prior to making critical lifts overhead. And, flaggers and rigging personnel should NEVER be beneath a suspended load.

(The Avalance Journal article below)

A crane malfunction was blamed for the partial collapse of a three-story parking garage Tuesday morning that seriously injured two workers.

A portion of the parking garage on Glenna Goodacre Boulevard just east of Avenue X experienced a "pancake collapse" when a beam fell from a crane and crashed into the third level shortly before 10 a.m. The third floor of the deck fell on the second floor, which then collapsed onto the first.

The beam, weighing between six and nine tons, dropped from about 10 feet above the top of the structure, which was being built by Lee Lewis Construction for a new McDougal property - a luxury apartment complex for students.

"They have confirmed the collapse was due to a mechanical crane failure," said Steve O'Neal, the city's chief building official.

The finding the crane was at fault erased initial fears the incident may have been caused by a structural defect but brought up new concerns amid a recent rash of crane failures nationwide.

Two male workers, whose names were not released, were rushed to University Medical Center. They were both in serious condition Tuesday, a hospital official said, but their injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

The accident also shut down westbound traffic along Glenna Goodacre from Avenue X to Avenue V for an undetermined amount of time for safety reasons.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the collapse along with engineers with the Lubbock Fire Department, Lee Lewis Construction and the city of Lubbock. Officials also are reviewing the stability of the building to determine if any damage was caused by the collapse. They don't believe the deck poses a risk of tumbling, though some of the building may need to be repaired to be structurally sound.

O'Neal said preliminary investigation results show the brake drum on the crane's hoist failed: "If it fails, it's just like you dropped it."

He was not sure why there was a mechanical error but said the crane was safety certified and had only arrived at the construction site within the last 30 to 60 days. He did not know its age.

Lee Lewis Construction officials declined to comment on the incident.

Mike McDougal, president of McDougal Properties, said investigators were working to determine why there was a mechanical error.

O'Neal said crane malfunctions seem to be an issue lately. He's not sure why, but there seems to have been more crane failures in the past six months that ever before, with deadly reports across the nation, including two in New York City. He didn't know if crane fatigue was contributing to the problem nationwide.

OSHA spokeswoman Elizabeth Todd said it could take up to six months to complete the agency's investigation.

To comment on this story: 766-8742 766-8706

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Tower Crane Went Down

The Associated Press article below reports another tower crane has fallen in Miami.

In reading articles and blogs from all over the country, it seems that these reports just use the word "crane" in describing the many fatal TOWER crane fatal incidents across the country. I haven't seen an article in months that pertained to any type MOBILE crane (Crawler, Hydraulic, Fixed boom, etc. ).

It seems that the owners and operators perform more frequent inspections on Mobile cranes than with Tower cranes. Perhaps more frequent and more stringent inspections should be REQUIRED on Tower cranes.

Crane accident in Miami injures 1 worker

MIAMI (AP) — The arm of a mobile construction crane came loose Monday in Miami, injuring at least one worker and leading to the partial evacuation of a nearby hotel as a precaution.

The accident happened shortly before 3 p.m., with the arm swinging into the machine's vertical base, Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Ignatius Carroll said. The crane did not collapse or fall, but a worker who was midway up the 212-foot machine was hospitalized with severe injuries to his right arm.

The man's son, who was also working on the crane, was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Both were wearing harnesses.

This is the second crane accident in Miami this year; one in March at a high-rise condominium left two workers dead and five more hurt. Two similar accidents in New York City — in March and May — killed nine people this year.

Work on putting together the Miami crane began two days ago. It was going to be used to do work on a roof and was still being assembled when the accident happened.

The southern part of the Marriott Hotel, just north of downtown Miami, was evacuated. But by late afternoon, the mobile crane had been secured and restrictions on that side of the hotel were lifted.

Officials of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate, Carroll said. Work on the crane has been suspended.

Gizelle Davis, a general manager for the crane company, Ray Anthony International LLC, said an investigation continues. The company has offices in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania, according to information on the side of its truck at the scene.

Associated Press writers Rasha Madkour and Kelli Kennedy contributed to this report.

Pneumatic Power Tools

The following article was posted in the (Mobile) Press Register on Wednesday, June 11, 2008.

Shawnee, Kan.
"Nail Gun Mishap Drives nail in Skull"

A suburban Kansas City man accidentally fired a 2.5-inch mail into the top of his head, but says he now feels fine after a doctor used a claw hammer to remove it.

The mishap occurred Friday while George Chandler, of Shawnee, and a friend were working on a backyard project.

The nail gun hose became tangled, causing the powerful tool to fire once. Chandler said Monday he told his friend he didn't know where the nail went, but he felt a sting on the top of his head.

Soon they discovered that the nail was driven into Chandler's skull, so they called an ambulance. He was rushed to a hospital where a doctor used a common claw hammer to remove the nail, Chandler said.

Chandler said he feel "very lucky, very, very lucky to have escaped serious injury."

Although this event happened on a back yard project that OSHA regulations do not apply, perhaps this incident would not have happened if they had used the following Pneumatic Power Tools, OSHA Standard:

1926.302(b)(3) "All pneumatic driven nailers, staplers and other similar equipment provided with automatic fastener feed, which operate at more than 100 p.s.i. pressure at the tool shall have a safety device on the muzzle to prevent the tool from ejecting fasteners, unless the muzzle is in contact with the work surface"

It seems as the persons involved were using Donkey Sense in not using the tool by possibly bypassing safety features. Common Horse Sense proves the use of safety features when using pneumatic tools is the way to go.

Safe work practices on Home Projects apply off the job site as well as"font-style:italic;">

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rules Don't Apply????

Why wouldn't Crane safety rules apply in Oregon? I have never seen where a State, Local or City sponsored OSHA group was better than Federal OSHA.

Usually, I am not a proponent for the Federal Government to run most anything. However, in researching so many different ways that State or Local OSHA programs see the same items so differently. I was totally amazed when I saw this article published in the Statesman Journal with the below headline.

This is total Donkey sense. Instead of many, many differently worded Standards to cover items such as Cranes, the Horse Sense way would be to have ONE set of Standards that are used Nationwide.

News safety

Crane safety rules don't apply here

Collapses prompt inspections elsewhere, but not in Oregon

By Thelma Guerrero-Huston • Statesman Journal

June 6, 2008

Although a number of cities across the nation have ordered safety inspections of tower cranes at construction sites after two recent crane collapses in Manhattan, city and state inspectors in Oregon have not followed suit.

(Note; Advertisements are a part of the article.)

Advertisement The reason: Neither the city nor the state have rules requiring regular inspections of the massive cranes.

"We don't currently have language in the city's building code that allows for that," said Tom Phillips, the administrator for the city of Salem's Building and Safety Division. "We only regulate the construction of the building itself and the equipment that will be used inside that building after it gets its final occupancy."

In Salem, and Oregon in general, tower cranes are under the purview of the state's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which requires certification for crane operators.

However, the agency does not require an inspection certification before or after a tower crane is erected.

"The Legislature does not require that we inspect cranes ... or any piece of construction equipment," said OSHA administrator Michael Wood. He said the agency lacks the resources, namely inspectors, that would be required to conduct such safety inspections.

Unlike Oregon, California, which also makes crane safety the jurisdiction of its state OSHA, requires inspection permits and certifications for erecting tower cranes. Some cities, such as San Francisco, require periodic inspections to ensure the crane is properly anchored.

In Washington, a new law governing crane safety standards, including operator certification and crane inspections, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Officials with both states said they were motivated to push such legislation after tower-crane accidents that resulted in a number of deaths.

Oregon OSHA does conduct inspections of tower cranes after an accident, whenever a worker safety complaint is filed or when returning for a random check at a site which has previously experienced an accident.

There currently are two 120-foot tower cranes in operation in Salem.

One is in use at The Meridian, a six-story office/resident complex under construction on the corner of Mission and Commercial streets NE.

The other is operational at the Rivers Condominiums, a high-rise condominium project being built on the corner of Court and Front streets NE.

Both cranes were rented from Salem-based Morrow Equipment Co., which owns and operates the largest fleet of tower cranes in North America. Neither of the tower cranes involved in the New York incidences were owned by Morrow.

However, a Morrow Equipment crane was involved in a collapse March 15 in Miami, killing two people and injuring four others.

Morrow officials declined comment for this story.

Mike Mueller, a project manager with John Hyland Construction of Eugene, which is constructing The Meridian, said Morrow Equipment officials inspect the tower crane on the job site several times a month.

"Our crane operator also keeps a log of the hours the crane works, so that way we can check it weekly to make sure it doesn't have any damage," Mueller said. The company began construction on The Meridian in March 2007.

The tower crane in use at the Rivers Condominiums has only been on the job site two weeks, said Wayne Cox, the firm's project manager.

"We've had Morrow workers here training our crane operators on site," he said. "They'll be inspecting the crane weekly, but we'll be inspecting it ourselves at least twice a day."

At the Oregon chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 701, which includes tower crane operators, some discussions have focused on the recent accidents in New York.

"We never are completely sure of what causes them, but usually there's been a mistake made or a short cut taken," said Mark Holliday, the IUOE's business manager and financial secretary, who estimates there are as many as 20 tower cranes on the job in the state's larger metropolitan areas.

The union is satisfied with the state's inspection and safety procedures, Holliday said.

"I think giving regulatory authority over tower cranes to OSHA is proper because it's consistent and follows up on accidents," he said. "If it were left up to the cities, we'd have a checkerboard of rules." or (503) 399-6815

Friday, June 6, 2008

Crane Group Pushing New Rules

The attached Associated Press news item indicates the the Crane industry groups are pushing for new NATIONAL standards for cranes in the construction industry in order to curb the many crane incidents that have caused fatalities in recent months.

The time table noted in this article states that an agreement from the crane industry group was sent to OSHA in July 2004 to license crane operators as well as other updated standards. These agreed items were sent to the Office of Management and Budget. It takes from 30 to 90 days for their actions. Then it takes another 12 to 18 months to get comments from all over the country, before any actions are gathered before the standard is put in place. There have been NO changes since 1971 to the crane standards.

One principle recommendation to these standards is the Licensing of ALL crane operators nationwide. Some states have this requirement now. While I agree that licensing of operators is a good thing and will show that, at least, they have had SOME formal training. However, the operators are only a part of the standards that need to be addressed. The REGULAR INSPECTIONS on each crane should be done on a timely basis by A TRULY COMPETENT PERSON that has been formally trained in the inspection of each type crane that they are to inspect. As I noted in another blog, I feel that recertification of cranes should be more frequent than once a year. This especially is applicable for tower cranes.

Crane industry groups push for national standards
Construction crane industry groups call for national standards in wake of fatal accidents

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - In the wake of three construction crane accidents in the past three months that claimed 11 lives, industry groups on Thursday called for nationwide safety standards.

An industry council agreed on a set of standards in July 2004 and recommended them to the Department of Labor, but the proposal has languished within the department's Occupational Health and Safety Administration since then, the groups said.

"It cannot be overemphasized that the time for action is now," said Bill Smith, president of NationsBuilders Insurance Services, which provides insurance to crane operators. "National uniformity of standards is essential and government must expedite the process."

The proposed standards include a requirement that all crane operators obtain licenses, either under state programs or from accredited groups.

Fifteen states currently have similar rules, including New York, where two of the recent accidents have taken place. Florida, where the third accident occurred, doesn't require certification but is one of five states considering doing so, according to Graham Brent, executive director of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.

Smith said he has learned that the proposed rules, which also cover crane design and construction, have been sent to the White House's Office of Management and Budget for review, which will take 30 to 90 days. The public will then comment on the rule for another 12 to 18 months before it can be issued.

Sharon Worthy, a Labor Department spokeswoman, referred questions to OMB. A phone call to OMB was not returned.

"Any accident that occurs in our industry is of great concern to us, but the tragic loss of life is particularly troubling and completely unacceptable," said Joel Dandrea, executive vice president of the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, which represents 1,300 transportation and industrial machinery companies.

Dandrea also said his group has formed a task force that will develop a set of construction crane "best practices" for contractors.

OSHA's existing rules for workers who operate cranes have not been updated since 1971, though the agency acknowledges modernized standards could help prevent future accidents.

The Labor Department in May estimated there are as many as 82 fatalities annually associated with cranes in construction, and said a more up-to-date standard would help prevent them. Most crane accidents are due to wind or operator error, experts say. Top of page

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"Shed Ignites as Bees Doused"
Place brain in gear before placing body in motion!

The following article in today's issue of the (Mobile) Press Register shows that Safety at Home is as important as On the Job Safety. Also, it shows ignorance of the value to the environment that bees play. This is truly a Donkey incident!

"Home suffers extensive damage as man uses gasoline on infestation." Written by Robert McClendon, Staff Reporter.

Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Mullen meant to kill the bees infesting the utility shed Wednesday, but he ended up causing a small explosion, burning the shed to cinders and causing about $80,000 in damage to his (rented) Midtown home, according to fire officials.

"There were no injuries unless you count the bees," said Mobile Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Huffman.

Mullen said that, in an attempt to rid his utility shed of bees, he dumped about a dringking-glass-size amount of gasoline onsome towels the bees were swarming around. He walked away to pick up some trash in the yard and heard a "whoosh."

When he turned around, he said, the shed was in flames.

Huffman said the fire probably started when the pilot light of a hot-water heater in the shed ignited the fumes from the gas.

Firefithters quickly arrived at the one-story Farnell Lane house off Pleasant Valley Road, Mullen said, and extinguished the flames.

Although the fire only burned for a short time, it did heavy damage to the side of the house and filled the interior with smoke and soot. Mullen is renting the home; his residence in Biloxi was destroyed during Hurricand Katrina.

Mullen's fincee' and 1-year-old daughter were inside the house when the fire started, but, Mullen said, he got them out before the fire had spread.

A neighboring house, whick is vacant and up for sale, went mostly undamged, but the blaze burned hot enough to melt some plastic blinds through a closed window.

A mechanic by training, Mullen said he has been educated on gasoline flash points and flammability and he didn't expect the unleaded gasoline to put off enough fumes to catch fire.

"I just can't see how the fumes concentrated enough to catch fire, he said.

Despite the fire, a few surviving bees continued to buzz around the ashes of the ruined shed Wednesday afternoon.

"Looking at all this, there might have been a better way," Mullen said, surveying the damage. "It was a mistake. I wish i hadn't done it. but I did."

It is amazing how quickly something that you have been schooled in the safety aspects of being around flammable items can prove tragic simply because your brain is not in gear, especially around the house.

There was another article in the same paper referring to the lack of bees to pollinate all types of plant life. There are Beekeepers around all larger populated areas that will come to your home and collect the bees for you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Much TALK About Cranes

There has been lots of talk about so many tragic incidents involving cranes on construction sites across the country. The Associated Press article below contains some good, solid Horse Sense talk about these problems, however, some of the problems seem to be caused by Donkey methods of maintenance and inspection procedures in slip shod inspections of critical parts of these cranes.

Although there are many problems with ALL type truck and crawler cranes, it seems that the largest amount of problems are with the Tower Type cranes. In my experience, there are many, many more of the mobile type cranes around the country than the stationary, tower cranes. However, the big news seems to come when a tower crane falls since they are used on more "vertical type" construction projects due to the lack of space for the construction work.

I fully agree that something needs to be done, and soon to get a handle on tower crane inspection procedures. Many projects have union operators that, in most cases have experience in the daily checks and procedures in the operation of cranes. However, there are a vast number of "Lever Pullers" that have little or NO training of safety inspection procedures of the cranes that they are operating. Regardless of the operators' experience, more emphasis should be given to training ALL operators in the safety inspection, not only in operating the rigs, but in the safety procedures and inspection.

I have had experience with metal fatigue in a truck crane's boom. After 8 years of operation, the oiler was cleaning and lubricating the boom sections of a hydraulic crane and discovered that the steel plate that served as the bottom of the base section had a flaw, apparently from the steel mill that produced the plate. This flaw looked similar to the grain in a piece of wood. This oiler was complimented on his observation in preventing a possible incident that could have been a tragedy.

As I have stated in previous posts, Federal OSHA needs to get on the ball and come up with more stringent inspection procedures on cranes made by A TRUELY COMPETENT AND TRAINED INSPECTOR. Perhaps an increase in doing a more frequent ANNUAL type inspection be made SEMI-ANNUAL. Also, more detailed inspections with properly trained operators.

After crane collapse, experts call for more tests

NEW YORK (AP) — The towering cranes that build America's skyscrapers are often not properly inspected for wear, fatigue and other potentially dangerous structural problems, several construction safety experts said following a deadly accident in New York.

Two construction workers died Friday when the huge cab of a 200-foot-high construction crane popped off its mast and plummeted onto a Manhattan street, sheering off part of an apartment building on the way down.

Crane accidents in Wyoming and Nevada on Saturday that killed one person and injured three, underscore the risks involved with working around cranes.

Investigators probing the New York accident have focused on a possible defect in the turntable that connected the cab to the crane's tower.

Acting Building Commissioner Robert LiMandri said a weld in the mechanism appeared to have failed. He said forensic experts were examining the break and tracking maintenance records on the turntable, which was part of an aging crane made by the defunct company Kodiak that had been in service since 1984.

Just why the weld came apart was unclear, but crane inspectors and engineers who spoke with The Associated Press on Saturday expressed dismay — but not surprise — that the problem hadn't been uncovered during safety checks.

Greg Teslia, president of Crane Safety & Inspections Inc. in Coral Springs, Fla., said construction workers handling the giant machines often lack the expertise to spot structural problems.

"Their knowledge is fairly limited, along with their education," Teslia said. "You cannot take a one-week course at some facility, and all of a sudden say that you are a crane inspector, and that's what I think is happening."

Jeff York, a crane safety consultant in Hayward, Calif., said many things can go wrong with a crane as it ages. Bolts can loosen and stretch. Cracks can develop. Most of these things can be detected, but he said those checks are sometimes performed poorly, or not done at all.

"There is no oversight for this type of work," said "There are people who are rubber stamping this stuff," he said.

Gene Corley, a structural engineer and vice president of CTLGroup, said there is no national standard for checking cranes for cracks caused by fatigue, even though there is a need for such checks and devices are available that can perform the tests accurately.

In northeastern Wyoming on Saturday, three people were injured when a large crane collapsed as it moved a pipe across a rail line at the Black Thunder coal mine near Wright, authorities said.

"It's completely toppled over; it's a mass of blue, twisted metal," said Campbell County Sheriff's Deputy C.T. Akers. Two of the injured were in critical condition.

And in Las Vegas, a worker was crushed to death by a crane at the construction site of the MGM Mirage's CityCenter casino resort in Las Vegas, authorities said.

The worker was oiling the crane when he apparently became caught between the its weight system and track, said Clark County fire spokesman Scott Allison.

The crane didn't fall, and no one else was injured.

There have been several other deadly crane accidents in recent years.

A section of a crane collapsed in Miami in March, killing two workers and smashing a home. A construction worker died in Annapolis, Md., in April after a section of a crane came loose as it was being dismantled. A crane collapse that crushed buildings and killed a man in Bellevue, Wash., in late 2006 prompted an overhaul of that state's safety regulations.

The accident in New York came just 2 1/2 months after another crane collapsed in midtown Manhattan, killing seven people.

The city's building commissioner convened an emergency meeting of about 80 area construction executives Saturday to talk about crane safety. The meeting was closed to the public, but LiMandri said afterward that officials are focusing on the possible turntable defect.

"The crane cab completely came apart from the mast in a way that allows us to, and has drawn us to, focus on the actual turntable," LiMandri said. "We have reviewed, based on some photographs, that a weld, or structural member, may have had fatigue."

Associated Press writer Ben Neary in Cheyenne, Wyo., contributed to this report.

Monday, June 2, 2008

New York Inspector Hirings
Since the Crane Incidents

The article from The New York Daily News by Robert Limandri is very commendable that the City is making some efforts to strengthen their Safety Inspection personnel and training. It seems to me that one thing that would be to take the Horse Sense route and force contractors to show evidence that all their heavy equipment (Cranes, excavation equipment, etc.) have been PROPERLY trained, both by written examinations and operation experience before placing them in the operator's seat and start "pulling levers."

The Federal OSHA people should get on the ball and complete the new standards for this type equipment operation and maintenance. This would be a huge step in assisting State and City Safety organizations by having a "Cross over" system where construction projects cross jurisdictional lines. In many cases, personnel may travel very long distances from their home state to do construction work. This would alleviate some of these problems.

Incidents in large cities or other congested situations would be aided by a nationwide system to be assured that ALL operators have been properly trained.

Many "small" as well as large contractors will allow almost anyone to jump into the seat of a piece of equipment and start "pulling levers."

Challenges of a building boom

Sunday, June 1st 2008, 4:00 AM

Construction in New York City and the City's Buildings Department bear little resemblance to what they were a decade ago when the development boom began.

The construction boom - unprecedented in reach across all five boroughs - has been a challenge for the Buildings Department. In the midst of growing demand, our buildings inspectors, enforcement officials, architects, engineers and dedicated support staff have raced to make their agency transparent, efficient and accountable.

But Friday's deadly accident and the number of construction fatalities and accidents that have already occurred this year demonstrate that more must be done to protect the city's construction workers and all New Yorkers.

We are charging ahead with new initiatives to increase construction safety:

* We are building our special enforcement plan, an aggressive program of 10 new oversight and enforcement teams - 144-staffers strong - to zero in on at-risk areas of construction that demand our heightened oversight.

* We are launching an unprecedented study with a $4 million investment to retain specialized field engineers to fully examine and analyze the way the industry operates in high-risk crane, concrete and excavations operations - while simultaneously assessing how the Buildings Department oversees and enforces safety requirements within those operations.

* We are working on a legislative package to provide our staff with the tools they need to track contractors more effectively and to better hold responsible parties accountable for dangerous construction.

But the department alone cannot guarantee accident-free construction.

Contractors have the non-negotiable responsibility to ensure construction safety, and the Buildings Department must hold them to this. Developers, contractors and the highly skilled workers who build New York City must work with us to ensure that every construction site operates safely, with well-trained workers and properly maintained equipment.

New Yorkers know that New York City's tightly packed urban environment poses challenges that few other cities face.

We know our teeming streets and sidewalks leave little room for error. Yet we also know that thousands of new buildings are constructed each year without incident, without injury. The vast majority of construction is safe.

But New Yorkers should not have to tolerate toppling tower cranes and flying debris. Raising the construction industry's safety standards and level of care is our primary focus: and it must seep into the hearts and minds of every party involved in every operation, every day.

Improving New York City's construction safety requires commitment from government and industry. The Buildings Department has razed and rebuilt itself. Mayor Bloomberg has expanded our force and our funding. The City Council has better empowered us with stronger legislation. In addition, we are asking every segment of the construction industry to come forth - with their ideas, their expertise and experience - to help us raise the standards for construction safety.

New Yorkers are justifiably angry when seemingly predictable accidents happen - and when seemingly preventable accidents wreak havoc on our families and neighborhoods. The steps we are taking to advance construction site safety are imperative. Safety is about the value of human life and construction safety is about the value of our construction workers, passersby and neighbors. Each has a right to go home at night. New Yorkers deserve no less.

LiMandri is acting NYC buildings commissioner.

Crane Accidents Addressed

In the article below from The Ann Arbor News the person from State office of Safety and Health Administration makes the statement that "We know how to do it right,"

Knowing HOW to do it RIGHT is admirable, however, DOING IT RIGHT is a total difference. The person also states that the State of Michigan employs 15 persons to inspect cranes along with all type safety inspections across the entire state seems to allow a very short amount of time to inspect all the many cranes in the state.

I do wholeheartedly agree that "If the cranes used to hoist materials are put together properly, inspected properly, and used properly by trained operators, accidents should be rare." Probably, the most critical problem with all type cranes across the nation is the lack of trained operators and properly trained maintenance and inspection persons. I've seen too many situations on job sites from all over the country that this is the true problem. It is essential that contractors have these items as REQUIRED STANDARDS OF OPERATIONS for ALL of their job sites.

Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Ann Arbor News

If the fourth construction crane collapse to make news across the nation in three months causes you look at Ann Arbor's skyline and wonder about safety, Bob Pawlowski offers this thought: "It's a matter of diligence.''

"We know how to do it right,'' said Pawlowski, director of construction and safety for the state Office of Safety and Health Administration.

If the cranes used to hoist materials are put together properly, inspected properly, and used by trained operators, accidents should be rare, he said.

Despite the spate of accidents, the most recent in New York Friday, "they're not common,'' Pawlowski said. "Unfortunately, when they do occur, they can be catastrophic.''

MIOSHA employs 15 safety inspectors who visit construction sites across Michigan. Safety checks of cranes and their operation are part of those inspections.

Here's how it works:

  • Using a database of all construction projects valued at $200,000 and over, MIOSHA generates a list each month of all those that should be 30-60 percent complete, based on dates construction began and the cost of each project.
  • Of the thousands that may be on that list on any given month, a more manageable number is selected at random. "We have to be concerned about any appearance of targeting anyone,'' Pawlowski said.
  • Each inspector may visit 15 to 20 sites a month. In Southeast Michigan, and other urban areas, inspectors spend less time traveling and likely make more inspections, Pawlowski said.

    Particularly large projects - a casino, for example - will certainly get a visit, based in the number of contractors and the projected building occupancy.

  • For any project using a crane, a review of its use and maintenance is part of the inspection visit.

    Inspectors will observe operations, check equipment inspection logs and quiz crane operators to determine that they're properly trained, Pawlowski said.

    "You do run into occasional situations where someone will rent a crane, and the employee isn't adequately trained,'' he said.

    MIOSHA also investigates accidents, like the recent case of a cherry-picker type crane that tipped when it crossed an open section of an overpass on M-14, where the deck was being replaced. That incident is still under investigation.

    At the moment, large cranes - including numerous stationary "tower'' cranes - are on more than half a dozen construction sites in Ann Arbor.

    Many of those projects are at University of Michigan facilities. Although U-M is not subject to local building inspections, MIOSHA does inspect university construction, Pawlowski said.

    Judy McGovern can be reached at 734-994-6863 or