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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cranes on Soft Ground Have Little Foundaton

Cranes MUST Be On Good Footing

The article below from Keoland Television relates that another fatality occurred while a worker was near a crane. It has been said that 85% of all related fatalities from crane upsets are to workers in the area of the crane, not to the crane operators. This has nothing to do with any particular fault of the operators, just a fact of the situations.

I've seen reports of quite a number of crane related incidents that resulted in fatalities this year and many more where, fortunately, did not result in a fatality. Several of these incidents resulted from unstable foundation for cranes. This occurred, in some cases, where a crane was set up on mats and the ground beneath the mats gave way. Others appear to have been caused by the lack of proper footing for the outriggers. It is of utmost importance that, prior to making a lift that ALL parties participating in the lift plan out ALL procedures and precautions involved, especially when working on disturbed or unstable soils. Pre-lift planning is so important, as related to this incident.

10/21/2008 5:57 PM

OSHA Investigates Construction Accident

We now know it was 51-year-old Henry Vandentop who died in Sioux Falls school construction accident on Monday. Tuesday, OSHA arrived on the scene to begin its investigation and construction on the site of Sioux Falls' newest elementary school has been halted until further notice.

There's no construction activity at the southwest Sioux Falls school site Tuesday, just a few workers analyzing the tipped crane. An officer from OSHA is among them.

OSHA's Area Director Bruce Beelman says, "Generally speaking, when there is a fatal accident we will conduct a complete and thorough comprehensive inspection of that entire work site."

Beelman can't say yet what led to Monday's accident. But that's what he hopes can be found. While initial reports from police say the crane sank into the ground, OSHA will also investigate how that crane was being used.
“The condition of the crane, the position of the boom and all of the other elements related to the operation,” says Beelman.

OSHA investigates an average of 12 work related deaths between South and North Dakota each year. Of which, Beelman says 30 to 40 percent happen on construction sites. That's why he says it’s important to look at every aspect of the accident.

Beelman says, "That's the reason why we do have a very high priority and have many local emphasis programs and regional emphasis programs related to construction activity."

Above all else, OSHA representatives hope they can learn from Monday's accident to prevent similar mishaps in the future.

Shawn Neisteadt
© 2008 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Close But Trench Worker Still Dead

Trench Worker's Death

The article below from The Troy Record, written by Andrew J. Bernstein describes an incident that shows that even if you try to do the best you can and provide the best safe work practices, just one wrong move can be fatal. Apparently the excavation was extended some 30 feet, the sides were not sloped not braced. The apparently entered the improperly shored or sloped ditch, the side collapsed burying the worker.

The contractor is to be commended on their safe work practices, however, this just shows that one let down on one safety procedure can be fatal.

Remember, Think the Safe Way, Work it Safely.

Ditch contractor called stickler for safety

CLIFTON PARK - Steven Fiske, who employed the construction worker killed in a trench collapse on Monday, is known to his employees as being a "nut on safety."

Brian Baker, a Stephentown-based attorney representing Fiske, said his client told him that in 17 years of construction he had never had an employee injured on the job.

"Steve only has seven employees, and he is deeply effect by this, and terribly saddened," said Baker.

On Tuesday, the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office identified the victim in the collapse as Brett R. Peck, 20, of Lennox, Mass. Baker said that Peck had been working for Fiske for several months, and had worked for another contractor prior to working for Fiske.

Terry Harding, assistant area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), said the accident was probably avoidable, adding that there appeared to have been violations of the agency's regulations of safe practices for digging trenches.

She added that this was the second trench collapse her office had investigated this year, but the first one that involved a fatality.

John Chavez, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA, said safe trenching practices can include the use shoring to support walls. Alternately, trench walls can be sloped to stabilize them.

Baker explained that Peck had previously dug a section of trench, and sloped the sides, as his supervisor instructed him to do.

"The young man dug another ten to 15 feet and was supposed to slope that too, those were his clear instruction, but it appears he did not do that. It appears to us that he was aware that the soil was loosed more than you would ordinarily like," Baker said.

The ditch was about three feet wide, Baker said, and had been dug using an excavator in preparation for laying a 50-foot perforated drainage pipe. Fire officials said on Monday that the trench was between six and eight feet deep.

Although Baker said Pecks' reason for going into the trench was not clear, he may have been preparing to connect a ten-foot section of pipe when the walls collapsed.

Saratoga County Coroner John DeMartino, who examined Peck's body, said the cause of death was asphyxiation.

On Tuesday, the Sheriff's office released further details of the rescue, noting that first responders attempted to excavate Peck with their hands, and succeeded in uncovering his shoulder, at which time it was clear that he had died.

Jonesville Fire Chief Lou Pasquarell said at that point the decision to call in specialized equipment and personnel from the Stratton Air National Guard, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and Colonie Trench and Urban rescue was made to avoid placing emergency workers in an unsafe situation.

It took several hours to extricate Peck's body.

Harding said an investigation of the accident would include analyzing the soil content, protective measures taken by construction workers, and whether the trench had been inspected by a competent person.

She said the Fiske had been cooperating with the investigation, although he was not at the construction site when it collapsed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kitchen Fires

Home Fire Prevention

I received the following post as an email. I have seen fire demonstrations on home as well as on the job showing the dangers of improper ways of fire fighting safety, but this one literally "brings the facts to the forefront."

Kitchen Fire - Read this first, then watch the attached video...
I never realized that a wet dishcloth can be a one size fits all lid to cover a fire in a pan! This is a dramatic video (30-second, very short) about how to deal with a common kitchen fire... Oil in a frying pan. Read the following Introduction, then watch the show... It's a real eye-opener! At the Fire Fighting Training school they would demonstrate this with a deep fat fryer set on the fire field. An instructor would don a fire suit and using an 8 oz cup at the end of a 10 foot pole toss water onto the grease fire. The results got the attention of the students. The water, being heavier than oil, sinks to the bottom where it instantly becomes superheated. The explosive force of the steam blows the burning oil up and out. On the open field, it became a thirty foot high fireball that resembled a nuclear blast. Inside the confines of a kitchen, the fire ball hits the ceiling and fills the entire room. Also, do not throw sugar or flour on a grease fire. One cup of either creates the explosive force of two sticks of dynamite. This is a powerful message. Watch the video and don't forget what you see. Tell your whole family about this video. Or better yet, send this to them.

Did this get your attention?????????????

Got 'er Done, But Safely

Git 'er Done, But Do It Safely!

Get the job done in a big hurry before freezing weather. This is the theme of the article below from Market Watch. This article points out that there are more incidents that happen during the fall when contractors tend to push workers and possibly take shortcuts to safe work practices to complete outside work before winter ice and snow begins.

This post is directed to the New York area, but holds true to all sections of the country as there are many icy days all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico. Freezing temperatures are experienced in almost every state in the country, especially in the early morning hours.

Contractors and owners of project sites get in too much a rush to get the job done and add many extra personnel that have to work above or below other work going on or go into an overtime mode to work as much as 12 or more hours per day, seven days per week. This situation creates fatigue of the workers who in turn take shortcuts to safe work practices.

Another situation that takes place during this time of year is industrial plants using holiday times to do Shut Down work in a few short days around Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year times. Shut downs (some refer to it as "Turn Overs") are usually perilous situations due to the long hours workers have to do to get the job done in a hurry.

I urge ALL contractors to place Very Close attention to Safe Work Practices during these rush, rush projects, especially this time of year.

Workers Are More at Risk for Accident Injuries on Construction Sites During the Fall and Winter

David Perecman, New York Construction Accident Attorney, Warns That Safety May Be Lax on a Construction Site as Contractors and Developers Rush Workers to Get Projects Done before the Winter Weather and Snow

Last update: 12:59 p.m. EDT Oct. 1, 2008
NEW YORK, Oct 01, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- New York construction accident attorney, David Perecman, warns the construction industries to carefully plan projects as the winter months arrive. The safety on construction sites can become very hazardous, very quickly as contractors and developers rush workers to get projects completed before winter arrives. As conditions worsen with wind and cold rain, surfaces become slippery. The Perecman Firm is reminding construction site workers to take extreme caution as the Fall and Winter seasons come and temperatures drop to avoid accidents and injuries on construction sites.
"This is the time of year when everyone wants to finish projects faster and may cut corners to get things done. There should be no compromise of the safety on a construction site just to get a project done faster," said David Perecman, lead construction accident attorney for New York's Perecman Firm. "Contractors and developers and New York City needs to monitor construction sites and penalize the managers and companies that force their employees to work in unsafe conditions or rushed conditions that cause less attention to safe work practices."
As winter approaches there are two problems to be aware of, rushing to get things done in the Fall season to avoid the delays of Winter weather and Winter weather itself. "Last year before the tragic weather related accidents I warned workers not to work in the snow. Every year there are accidents and injuries on construction sites due to windy and icy conditions. This year I am warning about the potential for developers and contractors to push the jobs because of the accidents that occurred last year. The New York Times reported that construction injuries have almost doubled from 23 in November of 2006 to 42 the same time in 2007."
About David Perecman and The Perecman Firm, PLLC:
For the past 25 years, New York construction accident attorney David H. Perecman, the founder of The Perecman Firm, PLLC has championed all types of personal injury and construction cases in New York State. David Perecman is the current Secretary of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) and a chair of its Labor Law (Construction Accident Law) Committee. Mr. Perecman's achievements, often in the construction accident field, have brought him recognition as an Honoree in the National Law Journal's 2008 Hall of Fame, in New York Magazine's 2007 publication of "The Best Lawyers in America" and has earned him the votes by his peers as among the top 5% of lawyers in the New York region as published in The New York Times Magazine "New York Super Lawyers, Metro Edition".
He has recovered millions of dollars for his clients over the course of his career. Among his more recent victories, Mr. Perecman won a $15 million verdict(1) for an injured NYC construction worker who fractured his arm and injured his knee. Mr. Perecman has spent much of his career advocating for injured victims' rights and safety on construction sites including his recent statements regarding New York City crane construction accidents. The New York personal injury attorneys at The Perecman Firm have a depth of expertise in and breadth of knowledge well recognized in NYC, while their record and reputation speaks for itself.
(1)Later settled while on appeal for $7.940 million.
SOURCE: David Perecman
For David Perecman, New York
Jay Berkowitz, 561-620-9121