The article below was written by Miami Construction Lawyer Alex Barthet and appeared first on TheLienZone under the title "Falling Objects in Construction." It was re-posted with permission. For more information about Alex and his firm, please visit www.TheLienZone.com andwww.Barthet.com.
Remember that day in school when the lesson was about the acceleration of free falling objects. The science teacher asked an interesting question. If you dropped a feather and a hammer out the window at the same time, which would hit the ground first? According to Galileo, all things should fall at the same rate, regardless of their weight, right? That’s a valid theory and it was actually illustrated at the end of the Apollo 15 moon walk. In 1971 astronaut, David Scott, performed the experiment and had both items land simultaneously.
Of course, that was on the moon. Here on earth, where we have a distinct atmosphere, things are a bit different. Objects fall slower or faster depending on the amount of air resistance and drag they meet on the way down.
Not too long ago, many of us were surprised that a drywall delivery man could in fact be killed after being hit by a small tape measure. But that tape measure had fallen 50 stories.
Falling objects remain a big problem and significant safety concern on all construction sites. There were over 70 fatalities resulting from falling items in 2014. From small tools, nuts and bolts, hard hats, pieces of pipe, lumber, concrete bits, bricks, debris, even cell phones – all continue to fall from hi-rise job sites and many are causing extensive injuries and property damage.
Height, weight, shape – all matter in determining the extent of damage caused by a falling object. And it shouldn’t be assumed that only the area directly below the falling object is at risk. Items do not always fall in a straight line and often ricochet, hitting someone or something not even at the work site.
Contractors clearly need to consider a number of prevention guidelines related to dropped objects:
- Educate: Reduce the risk by requiring all workers to become familiar with job site safety rules.
- Secure: Keep all loose items tethered on aerial jobsites, and have all workers pay special attention to safe storage and careful transport.
- Safeguard: Install toe boards, guardrails and safety nets on project floors, as well as canopies below.
A safe job site has to be priority one for all involved in construction, and falling object protection has to be part of each contractor’s safety manual.
Scissor lifts are on most typical construction job sites and they’re an often overlooked hazard. Too often, liberties are taken with the lifts that create unsafe conditions, which can cause injuries and deaths. OSHA recently released the results of their investigation of 10 fatalities and 20 injuries involving scissor lifts and released their findings in what the organization refers to as a “Hazard Alert.”
If you’re into heights, then China may be the place you need to be. The country recently unveiled the world’s highest and longest glass bridge and, as scary as many tourists may find that, it was way more dangerous while it was under construction. New footage of another construction site in the Laowang Monutains is giving that bridge a run for it’s money.
Since Construction Junkie was conceived in 2015, we’ve seen a lot of construction equipment flip for some really stupid reasons. Like this crane, this other crane, and this third crane dropping a bulldozer. Those are just some of the ones caught on video and they should be enough to convince you not to go out of your way to do dangerous things with a crane.
A portion of the Skagit River Bridge, located in Mount Vernon, Washington catastrophically collapsed into the water below after a semi hauling an oversized load clipped a cross beam in 2013. Luckily and amazingly, no one was killed by the incident, but 3 people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries as several cars fell into the river. It took over 3 years to determine a cause and the report states that there were several causes. First, below is security camera footage of the collapse, uploaded to Youtube by newschannel500, in which you can see just how quickly the collapse happened.
Cranes are a staple of many construction sites throughout the world, but they’re susceptible to damage caused by sudden bursts of high wind. Winds were blamed for the collapse of the New York City crane collapse that killed one man and injured 3 others in 2016 and again for the devastating crane collapse in Mecca, which killed over 100.
Much like the stories above, a crane collapsed last week in Dubai, UAE, after sudden heavy winds burst through town.
Tragedy struck a Florida construction company last week after 3 construction workers passed away while working underground below a newly paved road. Another volunteer firefighter is in critical condition, and possibly in a coma according to WSVN Miami, after entering the manhole trying to save the victims.
No matter how fun demolitions and demolition videos might be, there’s an inherent danger to performing them that cannot be overlooked. Just last year, a different parking garage collapsed during a demolition in Houston, Texas, which landed on one of the excavators performing the work. Thankfully, no one was injured in that collapse, but it could have been much worse.
The following is a guest post written by David B. Lever.
When construction sites are safer, then productivity increases as well as profits. More construction safety means less time lost due to accidents, lower insurance premiums, and less money spent repairing damaged equipment.
Jobsite pressures, such as time crunches and monetary issues can quickly tempt otherwise good people into making some pretty poor decisions. There are also others who use their construction business as a front for other illegal activities. Many people were arrested for a variety of reasons in 2016 and the list below should serve as both a reminder and a warning for those considering making bad decisions.