Friday, June 26, 2009

Unsecured Lifted Load Fatality

All Lifted Materials MUST Be Secured

The article below from The Observer by Sue Buck notes that a worker was killed by falling roofing materials being lifted by a crane in Ann Arbor.

While Sue's article states that, according to the Police, there was no crime. This may be true as far as the Police are concerned, but in reality, THERE WAS A CRIME COMMITTED.

The laws that were broken pertained to OSHA Regulations. These regulations make statements that all loads lifted must be secured to prevent them from falling. Also, no workers are to be exposed to materials being lifted over their work area. This area should have been cleared of workers within the lift area.

There was absolutely no reason for this incident, not an accident, should have occured. In accordance of the new crane standards, the Operator, Rigger(s) and the Lift Supervisor must be trained and certified in the proper safe methods of making ALL lifts. The apparent lack of this procedure makes no Horse Sense and makes Donkeys out of a situation that should not have happened.

Construction site accident claims life of GC man

By Sue Buck • OBSERVER STAFF WRITER • June 25, 2009

The service for Gary Winisky Jr., 48, will be at 1 p.m. at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home, 31551 Ford. Garden City. Mr. Winisky was struck by roofing material that fell from a crane while he was working at the site of the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. He died in the emergency room at the university's medical center.

According to Diane Brown, the public information officer for the University of Michigan Police Department, the incident occurred at 9:52 a.m. when a large, heavy load of roofing material fell off a crane and landed on the man. He died at 10:38 a.m.

“He was crushed,” Brown said.

Autopsy results are pending, and there has been a determination that no crime occurred. The incident is being handled as an accident by the police. However, the state OSHA investigation will look into whether or not equipment failed, safety precautions were or weren't followed and whether there was any “fault” for the accident. The report could take several few weeks.

Mr. Winisky worked for Schreiber Roofing in Detroit, a subcontractor of Barton Malow. The person answering the phone at Schreiber said that she wasn't at liberty to make any comments, and the manager did not return a call to the Observer.

Mott Children's Hospital, which is under construction, is the “replacement” hospital for the current facility. It's located on East Medical Center Drive in Ann Arbor and south of University Hospital.

There have been no other accidents at that construction site. However, this is the third construction death on campus in less than two years. A masonry worker fell 38 feet from scaffolding and was killed at the site of Michigan's Museum of Art in February 2008. In August 2008, a man fell five stories down an elevator shaft at the business school.

Visitation for Mr. Winisky is 3-9 p.m. today, June 25. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, daughters Krystal Marie and Tiffany Ann, granddaughter Destanie Jasmin Salas, father Gary Winisky Sr., siblings Michelle Winisky and Reed Chambers and many nieces and a nephew. | (734) 953-2014

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Aerial Lift Incident Takes Another Life

Aerial Lifts Dangerous

The article below by Kevin O'Neal of the Call Star, addresses the fact that Aerial Work Platforms can be deceivingly dangerous on work sites, especially in rough terrain sites.

How and why did this worker manage to be thrown from the basket of this machine? While these machines can be an excellent means of accessing elevated work locations, the travel movements across rough terrain while the boom is extended can accelerate the motion of the basket if and when the wheels cross a hole or over objects on the ground causing the basked to act like a catapult, thus throwing any occupant in the basket out.

This is the primary cause for injuries and death of workers who are not properly anchored to the anchor points in the basket's framework.

If the worker in this incident was trained in the use of these type machines, the first thing he should have been instructed in should have been how to, where to and why anchoring is critical. Failure to do this just accentuates the use of Donkey Sense.

Another possible cause for this type incident could be found in the type lanyard hooks being used. Some of the very large lanyard hooks similar to ones used by scaffold builders have weak or easy to "roll out" when used in aerial lifts.

Contractors should assure that ALL workers that use this type equipment are properly trained and constant visual observations as to how they are being used.

Convention work stopped until Monday; Labor committee may look at safety concerns

Officials continue to investigate fatal accident; labor committee likely to look at safety issues

Posted: June 19, 2009

Work at the Indiana Convention Center construction site Downtown was suspended until Monday as investigators probe a worker's deadly fall from an elevated lift.

"Our hearts go out to the (family of Stanley) Roberts," said John P. Klipsch, director of the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority. "We want to do a good job in investigating the accident."

Investigators have concluded that Roberts' safety harness was not properly attached to the device when it tipped and threw him 50 feet to the ground about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Indiana Department of Labor investigators will try to determine why Roberts' safety gear was not connected. The investigation could take months.

The convention center expansion, on the site of the former RCA Dome, is a $275 million project that will nearly double the facility's size. The expected completion date is late 2010.

Shiel Sexton, the general contractor on the project, has a policy that any worker elevated more than 6 feet must be connected to a harness and safety line to prevent falls, said Sean M. Keefer, deputy commissioner for the Indiana Department of Labor.

The state will look into several aspects of the accident, including the lift's movements when the fall took place.

The lifts, once called cherry pickers, typically have controls on their platforms that let the operator move them while the platform is elevated.

Roberts, 55, worked for Harmon Steel of Indianapolis. He had been trained to operate the lift and had experience in using the device on job sites, Klipsch said.

The Center for Construction Research and Training

reported that an average of 26 construction workers die each year from using aerial lifts.

There were 35 fatal boom lift falls in the U.S. construction industry from 1992 to 1999. Roberts' death renewed concerns about safety regulations for operating boom lifts, tall cranes and other elevated equipment.

Rep. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, said this accident likely will prompt a further examination from his office of whether changes in state safety regulations are needed.

He said he wants to talk to officials and engineers on the site from the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"We want to ensure that every precaution is being taken and all of the safety standards are being applied," said Niezgodski, chairman of the Indiana House Labor and Employment Committee.

• Star reporter Vic Ryckaert contributed to this story. Call Star reporter Kevin O'Neal at (317) 444-6304.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Low Fines by OSHA


The article below was posted in the Parade Magazine on Sunday, June 14, 2009. This article reflects something that I have advocated quite a number of times regarding the "slap on the wrist" fines after announcing a sizable fine for violations, especially related to fatalities.

The reduction of fines at an informal appeal by the violating organization just does not make Horse Sense. For example these reductions from maybe $65,000 may be reduced to $12,000.

New Efforts To Keep Workers Safe

Nearly 40 years after the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted to protect workers, organized labor and some members of Congress say the government's regulations are in need of an overhaul.

According to the Bureau of Labor Stastics, some 6,000 Americans are killed annyally in workplace accidents--more than 15 a day--and millions more are injured. But a study conducted by the AFL-CIO, using date from the Occupaitonal Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), found that the average fine for deadly violations is only $11,300. Ped Seminario, the union's director of safety and health, says that under current law, "fish, horses, and wild burros have stronger protections from harm than workers. That's an outrage, and it needs to change."

OSHA's records show that workplace violations increased 6.4%, to 89,000, from 2003 through 2007. Serious violations were up 12%--to67,000--during that same period.

Rp. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) says penalties are "shockingly low," amounting to a "slap on the wrist for killing or injuring a worker." Even in the most egregious cases, employers rarely face criminal prosecution, she adds.

Woolsey, who chairs the House Subcommittee on workforce protections, has introduced legislation that would greatly increase both civil and criminal penalties for vilations of OSHA rules. The maximum fine for willful and repeated violations, including those causing death, would increase from $70,000 to $250,000. Maximum jail time for willful violations that result in death would go from two years to 20 years.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Scaffolding Collapse


Project On Hold

The article below from the American Statesman by Juana Summers and Patrick George notes that three workers were killed in a collapse of scaffolding on a multi-story Condominium project in Texas.

Failure to following applicable standards for the proper set up of scaffolding AND the proper use of these scaffolds by workers while on them on commercial and industrial construction projects have been the cause of numerous fatalities over recent months.

The primary failure cause is the lack of training for the scaffold erectors and in the majority of cases, the lack of proper training of the workers that use them. So many times, the workers see a scaffold that has been erected for them to use, climb up to the work space then make minor alterations to the scaffolds to ease access to specific work spots causing a weakening of the system. Or they may fail to use proper care while working from the scaffold system.

After all, there are some unsafe aspects of most any scaffolding system that these workers have to be familiar with and shown the dangers associated with the system.

I urge ALL contractors to take the proper erection, setup, and continued checks of all scaffolding systems by following the OSHA standards and the scaffolding manufacturers instruction for these systems. This is a plain and simple use of Horse Sense as it pertains to this large part of multi-story construction, both in Commercial and Industrial projects.

Condo project put on hold

Three men killed while after falling from side of West Campus tower.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Construction on a high-rise condominium near the University of Texas has been put on hold indefinitely while officials investigate the deaths of three men Wednesday in a scaffolding collapse, the project's developer said.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Austin police are investigating the incident.

Gary Perkins, the developer of the 21 Rio project, called the collapse an "unfortunate accident" and offered condolences to the families of the workers who were killed.

"It's so upsetting because we're getting so close to opening the building. Everything has been clicking," he said. "This unfortunate accident takes our breath away."

The project's Web site says the 21-story condo tower was expected to be open this month.

Perkins said that up to 200 people have worked at the site on some days.

Police have not released the workers' names because their families have not been notified, officials said.

Four construction workers were on the scaffold outside the building at 21st and Rio Grande streets when part of it collapsed for unknown reasons about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Harry Evans, a battalion chief with the Fire Department.

Two men in their late 20s fell 11 to 13 stories to the ground, Evans said. They were pronounced dead soon after.

A third man, who was about 40, fell a few stories onto the roof of a seven-story parking garage, Evans said. The man died a few hours later at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

The fourth man did not fall and received only minor injuries, Evans said.