Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prevention of Falls on Construction Sites

Much More Related to Falls

The article below, posted in the Daily Community News and Construction Record points out several results of Fall Protection on construction sites. However, there are several things that can be critical and probably are a major cause of injuries when workers seem to be PROBABLY a major cause of injuries.

The Number One item I'd like to point out is the PROPER TRAINING in the use of body harnesses. On most jobsites that I've been on, the contractor hands their workers working more than 6 feet above ground or floor levels "a harness" to use while working at those levels.

I have found that VERY FEW workers are trained in the ways to inspect all the components, how to assure that there ia a proper fit of the harness how to properly adjust the harness to fit that individual's body, what to do if the worker does fall, what is the site Rescue Plan if someone falls, how long the worker can remain hanging in a harness before passing out, and many more critical items that is a must know related to fall protection.

Folks, this is 'CRITICAL PERSONAL PROTECTION" that ALL workers using harnesses MUST be aware of and PROPERLY trained in their use and being recovered in case of an incident. This is just plain HORSE SENSE.

Accidents spur Pennsylvania fall safety push


Following four recent fatal construction fall accidents in a week in southwestern Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has called on construction companies to ensure employees working above six feet have the proper equipment to protect themselves from falls on the job.

The first of the fatal falls happened on Friday, Aug. 15 and they ranged in heights from two to 13 storeys.

“Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry,” said Robert Szymanski, director of the Pittsburgh OSHA office, in a statement.

“These recent accidents are tragic reminders of the dangers posed to workers when adequate protection is not provided.”

There are a number of ways to protect workers from falls including guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall arrest systems, including properly anchored body harnesses and lanyards, as well as through the use of safe work practices and training. OSHA conducted almost 39,000 inspections and found nearly 88,000 violations of its standards and regulations in fiscal year 2008.

-DCN News Services

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fatal Falls

OSHA and Fall Protection

In the article below from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, by Kaitlynn Riely, regarding fall protection from falling off buildings and/or scaffolding, an Area Director for OSHA states that contractors should reassess their fall protection methods following four recent fatalities in southwestern Pennsylvania.

This article addresses the one relatively small area of this country compared to the Nationwide incidents that prove fatal to workers that are not properly equipped and properly trained in the safe, Horse Sense ways to use this type lifesaving equipment.

In many of these fatal incidents, it has been proved that contractors are not training their supervisors in the use of these preventive measures, therefore they are not passing down these measures to their workers that are put in to perilous situations.

I feel that there are five words that could be used to correct this: TRAINING, ATTITUDE, TRAINING, ATTITUDE AND TRAINING WITH ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENTS to the program.

Four deaths shed light on falling hazards

OSHA director says construction sites should reassess prevention measures
Thursday, August 20, 2009

Construction sites should reassess their fall prevention methods following the four recent fatalities resulting from people falling off buildings or scaffolding in southwestern Pennsylvania, a director for the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said yesterday.

"One worker fall accident is unacceptable, but four falls within a few days' time is completely incomprehensible," said Robert Szymanski, the area director for OSHA's Pittsburgh office.

The most recent accident was Tuesday, when Roy Pfoertner, 53, of New Kensington, was working on the roof of the Pennsylvanian apartment building Downtown. He fell 13 stories to the sidewalk. He was part of a crew doing masonry work on the roof for the contractor, Mariani and Richards.

Three more construction-related deaths from falling have occurred within the past week. Carl Beck, 29, of Butler, fell 42 feet from a roof in North Strabane, Washington County, on Saturday morning. On Friday morning, Gary E. Dwire, 56, fell from a house in New Kensington, and Michael Grinder, 40, fell two stories at a site in Monessen.

Historically, fatalities in the workplace have been on the decline in recent years, and Mr. Szymanski said last week his office was projecting that they might achieve a single-digit record low for fatalities for the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But the four fatalities since Friday bring the total to 11 workplace fatalities for this year.

In the construction industry nationally, falls account for nearly 50 percent of all fatalities, Mr. Szymanski said.

"If you eliminate fall hazards in construction, you would eliminate 50 percent of fatalities right off the bat," he said.

Of course, the goal is to have zero fatalities in the workplace every year, he said.

To achieve this goal, OSHA mandates safety requirements that protect against hazards like falling. Employers are required to protect their workers from falls when they are working six feet or higher above an adjacent surface by one of three methods -- a guardrail system, a personal fall arrest system like a body harness and line or a safety net.

There is an entire book of OSHA standards related to construction, but Mr. Szymanski emphasized these three methods of fall protection as imperative.

"I'm asking that employers take time to pause and assess their work sites immediately for appropriate fall protection systems," he said.

OSHA conducts regular inspections of workplaces to verify they are complying with the standards. The agency investigates all workplace deaths, and have started investigations for the four fatalities, including the one that occurred Tuesday.

If violations of OSHA standards are identified through the investigations, penalties may be assessed according to the circumstances, Mr. Szymanski said. These can include fines and recommendations to minimize risk.

Kaitlynn Riely can be reached at or 412-263-1478.
First published on August 20, 2009 at 12:31 am

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Too Many Scaffold Colapses

How Many More Deaths Due To
Improper Scaffolding????

The article below from the New York Times by Anahad O'Conner and Colin Moynihan relates to another Fatality to a worker on a stage scaffold. Proper Safety equipment either was not available or the workers on these scaffolds were not properly trained in Fall Protection when working from scaffolding.

In this case, the workers on the stage scaffold should have
been anchored so that if and when the stage fell, the workers would have been saved by Personal Protection Fall Equipment.

There is no excuse for situations like and the contractors should have to pay LARGE fines for the lack of proper safety equipment and safe use training for each jobsite or each time the scaffold is relocated.

The use of a Job Safety Analysis should have been completed and reviewed and signed off by the workers before any work was started. This applies to work EACH DAY or when the scaffolding is relocated.

Come on People. Lets wake up and quit killing workers working from scaffolding. Use some Horse Sense and quit doing it the Donkey Way and protect your employees.

Worker Falls Four Stories to His Death When a Scaffold Collapses in Brooklyn

Two workers left dangling when a scaffold gave way were pulled into a fourth-floor window by firefighters. The accident happened at the Ansonia on 12th Street in Park Slope.

Published: August 18, 2009

A 42-year-old construction worker at a luxury apartment building in Brooklyn plunged four stories to his death Tuesday evening when he stepped onto a scaffold that suddenly gave way, the authorities and witnesses said. Two co-workers tethered to harnesses were left dangling in the air, and were rescued by firefighters who arrived moments later as anxious neighbors witnessed the drama.

Skip to next paragraph

Henryk Siebor

“It was this terrible, ripping, tearing sound,” said Ilene Rosen, who was down the block when the scaffold gave way.

Ms. Rosen and other area residents said they looked up to see the two workers who had been on the scaffold now dangling in the air, and a fourth worker standing on a second scaffold.

“He’s dead, he’s dead,” one of the workers shouted of the man below.

The cause was being investigated, the authorities said, but it appeared that both mechanical failure and human error played some role in the collapse, which occurred about 5:30 p.m. at the Ansonia, a former clock factory that was converted to residential apartments over the years by various developers. The accident took place at one of the buildings, a six-story prewar at 438 12th Street in Park Slope.

Workers had been replacing bricks on the building’s facade for the past three months, and residents who saw them there on an almost daily basis said they virtually always appeared to be wearing safety harnesses. Investigators said Tuesday night that the worker who died — Henryk Siebor of 100 Diamond Street in Brooklyn — was wearing his harness at the time of the accident, but it may not have been secured, as required by state law.

Witnesses said that four men had been working throughout the day on two separate scaffolds placed side by side — two men to a scaffold — on the fifth floor of the building. They were nearing the end of the day’s work when the men on one scaffold told their superior, Mr. Siebor, on the adjacent scaffold that there was a problem with the way the rig was “tied off,” said Robert D. LiMandri, the commissioner of the Buildings Department.

“They were concerned,” he said. “They looked to their colleague who was senior on the job, and asked him to come over and investigate. He did that.”

But as Mr. Siebor stepped onto the scaffold, one of the lines holding it to the building gave way, sending the scaffold swinging against the building as he plunged to his death, landing on a first-floor terrace below.

Secured by their harnesses, the two men dangling in the air clung to the building for several minutes as firefighters from a department about a block away raced to the building.

When firefighters arrived, they smashed through a fourth-floor apartment door to reach the two men. A fire truck on the ground erected a ladder to help in the rescue, and the two men were pulled through a window. The fourth man, who was on the scaffold that remained intact, was helped off by other firefighters.

Donna Mitchell, who works in a building across the street, said she was outside when she heard a commotion and looked up.

“I saw fire trucks, and I see these two construction workers hanging on by the harness,” she said. “They still had their harness attached to them and they were hanging on.”

Ms. Mitchell said that to get to the men, firefighters smashed through a children’s safety guard and yelled for the men to reach for the window.

“The guys were close enough to the window, so they all reached out their hands,” she said. “It was like four firemen in the window, and one held him and the rest inside supported him and pulled him in.”

“It really looked scary,” she added.

Mr. Siebor came to New York four years ago from Rzeszow, a city of about 170,000 in southeastern Poland, and would regularly send money to his family back home, said a relative, who spoke Polish through a neighbor who interpreted. The relative, who would not give her name, said Mr. Siebor was married with three children: 20-year-old and 16-year-old daughters and a son, Robert, 16, who was visiting New York and apparently was at the Ansonia when his father died.

According to the Buildings Department’s online database, the Ansonia building received permits in March for masonry reconstruction and in April for the erection of a heavy-duty sidewalk shed. A spokeswoman from the Buildings Department said late Tuesday night that a stop-work order had been issued for the site, and that citations for violations were expected pending the outcome of the investigation.

There was no response to calls for comment made to the company responsible for the scaffold, Nova Restoration, which has offices in Brooklyn.

The Ansonia complex was once one of the largest clock factories in the world before it was converted to residential apartments, some selling for more than a million dollars.

Mr. LiMandri of the Buildings Department said that the agency would continue investigating why one of the lines that secured the scaffold gave way.

“We have two people who are lucky,” he said. “They are lucky to be alive.”

Reporting was contributed by Sewell Chan, Kareem Fahim, Christine Hauser, Jennifer 8. Lee and James Oberman.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Call Before Digging

I received the following as an email from a friend. It really makes you think before you undertake a job whether it be in an inner city or out in rural roads!


`You may or may not know about the law in the USA requiring you call for utility locating before you do any excavation. The pictures below are a result of a farmer using a post hole digger without calling for "locates," and he hit an underground, high-pressure cross-country gas pipe.

They never did find the guy……….took out 2 homes.

Hope it makes you think before you dig.....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oregon's OSHA Has The Right Idea

Oregon's OSHA Looks at Bigger Fines

The article below from Daily Journal of Commerce by Justin Carinci, brings up two of my Pet Peeves regarding incentives toward constructions companies that are performing Unsafe Operations on their jobsites that cause fatalities and/or serious and willful safety violations.

These two items that I have touted are the ATTITUDE of, especially the larger, more affluent companies that they have so much money that they don't care to pay a "slap on the wrist" monetary fine to willful or fatal incidents on their jobsites. The other is the fact the these fines are not financially significient to "Get their Attention."

The company official in this article seems to have this "I'm a big boy and I have plenty of money to pay for incidents and continue to keep my bigger than thou and too rich for a little $65,000 fine to make me Safety Conscious on my jobsites." These are the ones that should have their willful and fatal fines multiplied by at least 10 times the $65,000. A few these should make significient Attitude Adjustments to these type companies.

I have corresponded with Mr. Wood of the Oregon OSHA in the past and am in full agreement with him that SOMETHING needs to be done about these type companies. I fully agree that the 2 or 3 small companies would be immediately put out of business for a fine of $65,000. However, does that tiny company get a free ride and stay in business if they have one fatal incident and kills 1/3 of their employees?

There are a large number of approaches to these delimas that a Oregon OSHA will have to delve into. I just want to encourage Mr. Wood and his group to continue to iron out some of these approaches and come up with solutions that can, not only make Oregon OSHA's jobsites a safer place to work.

OSHA eyes bigger fines for safety violations

POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 04:06 PM CDT
BY: Justin Carinci
Tags: ,
Dan Carter/DJC

Dan Carter/DJC

Oregon OSHA officials are considering raising the fines for serious workplace safety violations and making bigger employers pay more. In the construction industry, however, the largest general contractors say bigger fines won’t make them any safer.

The commitment to safety should come from the companies themselves, said Dan Kavanaugh, vice president and general manager with Turner Construction Co.

“From our philosophy, money is not the motivator,” he said “A fine doesn’t mean anything to us.”

Right now, Oregon OSHA calculates fines based on two factors: the probability that an accident will occur and the severity of that accident. The most severe accident – one that causes a death – carries a maximum fine of $5,000.

That isn’t much of a financial hit for huge companies, said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator. Wood has the authority, at his discretion, to add up to $2,000 to each penalty in egregious cases.

Wood said he’s considering issuing fines on a sliding scale, based on the company’s size, and setting the new cap at $7,000, the highest Oregon OSHA can go under state law. “It’s certainly one of the things we’re looking at,” he said.

Smaller companies now can get a break of up to 30 percent on fines, Wood said. But that’s a smaller break than other states offer, and the issue probably will come up when Oregon OSHA starts talking, later this month, about updating its rules.

Safety violations made news last week, when Oregon OSHA announced penalties totaling $90,000 stemming from a February accident in which a welder was killed in a Boardman potato processing plant owned by ConAgra Foods. ConAgra received 13 fines totaling $65,000; NW Metal Fabricators, the company performing the repairs at the plant, received five fines totaling $25,000.

Wood acknowledged that a $65,000 fine wouldn’t have a great effect on a giant company such as ConAgra, which had $12.7 billion in sales for the fiscal year that ended in May. But he said Oregon OSHA’s main role is to push employers to keep workplaces safe, not to penalize them.

“It isn’t about an appropriate punishment,” Wood said. “This is about being a motivation to the employers.
“What motivates Fred’s Roofing, (which) has two employees, is going to be different than what motivates ConAgra.”

That’s especially true in construction, a field that has grown safer and more professional thanks in part to high-profile efforts by the largest companies. These companies generally don’t flout safety laws, Kavanaugh said.

An “absolutely, unequivocally fundamental commitment” to creating the safest environment on job sites is what drives Turner, he said. Raising fines wouldn’t change that.

Higher fines could be big hits for small and mid-sized construction companies, but they wouldn’t affect the biggest players, said Dan Johnson, vice president of operations for Skanska USA.

“If they raised fines, would that become a motivation?” Johnson said. “I’m thinking ‘no.’ ”

Johnson has called for the entire industry to take a zero-tolerance approach to job-site accidents. Oregon OSHA shouldn’t need to get involved at all, he said.

“Our mission is never to be fined by OSHA,” Johnson said. “To receive an OSHA citation, that is a strike against everything we stand for in safety.”

Johnson said he sees more problems at companies much smaller than Skanska. “It’s the house builders, the small contractors – you can see from the street the goofy things they’re doing.”

For those contractors, a bigger fine might make a difference.

“At the lower level of construction, they’ll get (the job) done and try to survive,” Johnson said. “If being fined is their only motivation (to be safer), maybe that’s enough.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Attitude Adjustments Needed

Safe Work Attitude Adjustment Needed

In the article below from the Sun Journal apparently published on December 15, 2007, it reeks from one of the most frequent cause for Incidents that occur on construction sites all over the country: "Safe Work Attitude" concerning excuses for fatal and serious injuries to workers in the work site area.

This article blames who knows whom or what caused a nylon sling to snap without any notation as to the condition of this sling. Was any "red string" showing in the stitching
? Was the sling inspected for frayed ? Was only one sling adequate for the safe handling of the load to keep it stable during the lift?
Were the riggers trained in the proper use of rigging materials and equipment for this particular lift? Was there a Lift Supervisor overseeing the lift operation? Did anyone really care about this particular lift or was it just part of a daily, boring day on the job?

All the above questions contribute to the cited violations "Unsafe hoist operations and failure to safeguard the public during construction.

Also, at the time of this incident (not an accident), it seem as the city had about the same attitude towards safe work sites and the proper use of cranes and rigging as well as proper erection and use of scaffolding and "Struck By" indident where a worker was crushed by equipment.

Another item of what seems "Willful" to me is the lack of safeguards to prevent falling from open sided elevated floors.

"Material Failure" CAN be foreseen if there is a "Donkey" attitude as material failure CAN be detected if proper "Horse Sense" inspection of the rigging equipment and proper safe rigging of the load.

It doesn't seem to be such a "Paramount Importance" factor when these type incidents occur on a jobsite.

I don't know the status of this project at the current time, but hopefully adjustments were made in the attitude of Providing a Safe Place to Work by the company on this project.

Crane drops steel on architect near WTC

NEW YORK (AP) - A crane dropped seven tons of steel from a skyscraper onto a construction trailer Friday, seriously injuring an architect at the site just across from ground zero.

The builder of a new corporate headquarters for investment banking giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was cited for four violations, including unsafe hoist operations and failure to safeguard the public during construction, after the crane's nylon sling snapped and dropped its load of 25- to 30-foot-long pieces of galvanized steel.

The crane was lifting the metal studs, being used to support shaft walls at the skyscraper's core - to the 13th floor of the 30-story building before the accident, said Richard Kielar, spokesman for the tower's builder, Tishman Construction Corp.

The accident, which left architect Robert Wood hospitalized in stable condition, is one of a string of recent serious construction accidents in the city.

A window washer was killed and his brother critically injured when a scaffold plummeted more than 40 stories off a building a week ago. A worker was killed the same day in the Bronx after heavy equipment pinned him while he was digging a hole to lay connecting pipe to a city water main, officials said.

The city Buildings Department on Friday issued a stop-work order for the crane at the site and cited Tishman Construction Corp. and the contractor leasing the crane, DCM Erectors Inc., for unsafe hoisting operations.

Tishman - the builder of Goldman Sachs - was also issued violations for failing to safeguard the public, failing to provide toe boards that prevent construction workers from accidentally falling off and failing to maintain netting along the sides of the building.

The sling was carrying a 14,000-pound load and is designed to carry 19,000 pounds, the department said.

Kielar said in a statement that a "material failure that ... could not have been foreseen" may have caused the incident.

"Our safety record on this project, in general, is excellent by industry standards," he said. "The on-going safety of the community and of personnel on this site and on all Tishman sites is of paramount importance to us."

The $2 billion tower, just across the street from the signature Freedom Tower being built to replace the World Trade Center, was considered a crucial anchor to the redevelopment of downtown Manhattan after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

After agreeing to become the first major firm to relocate its world headquarters near the site, the bank changed its mind, saying it had security concerns about a tunnel that was to be built at ground zero which would face it.

In 2005, state and city officials agreed to pay Goldman Sachs $1.65 billion in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds and offered millions in other incentives for the firm's commitment to move downtown. Politicians later said they would never offer as lucrative a deal again for companies seeking to move downtown, but that the Goldman Sachs deal was warranted because the company inspired confidence in the area.

The planned 43-story tower is expected to house 9,000 of the company's employees when it opens in 2009.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Work Platform on a Skid Loader


The article below from O H & S (OSHA Healh and Safety) states that OSHA has cited the contractor is being fined $13,300 for the fatal fatality of one of their workers when he fell from a makeshift work platform mounted on a skid steer loader.

The key word here is SKID STEER


This type machine is to be used ONLY for loader type operations using a bucket, back hoe or other types of attachments that NO WORKER SHALL be on it except the machine's operator. The Operator must be anchored while in the seat by use of a seat belt and/or a rigid bar that prevents the engine to run if it is not connected properly.

All portable elevated work platforms must have controls that they may be operated in emergency operations from the platform. Also, the platform must be constructed with fall protection rails with provisions for the worker to anchor to.

Rules for Aerial Work Platforms DO apply to this type operation and is clearly spelled out in the OSHA 1926, Construction Manual. This operation is strictly a Donkey operation and makes no Horse Sense.

Is $13,300 sufficient for a WILLFUL, "get by as cheap as you can" short cut? I don't think so. It is almost a standard operation for OSHA to cut the already insufficient fines that will get the contractors' attention will be chopped down to an insignificant amount after an informal conference.

This fatality is totally uncalled for and the fines should be multiplied several times, not cut to a mere tap on the wrist conference.

Kansas Construction Firm Fined $13,300 Following Fatality

OSHA has cited Diamond Sawing and Coring LLC of Summerfield, Kan., for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

OSHA cited the company following an investigation into a fatal accident in Lincoln, Neb., where a worker fell from an elevated platform that was affixed to a skid steer loader to the concrete below. OSHA inspectors found two alleged serious violations of the OSH Act.

"This accident was preventable. Employers cannot allow employees to be exposed to fall hazards," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is imperative that employers eliminate hazards and provide a safe work environment to prevent accidents from occurring."

The alleged serious violations stem from a lack of employee training and the employer altering equipment to accommodate personnel lifting without evaluating the equipment's ability to support the alteration. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about.

The violations carry $13,300 in proposed penalties against the company. Diamond Sawing and Coring has 15 business days from receipt of these citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.