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.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the deaths, but CBS4 Miami reported that the men entered the manhole to investigate a strong rotten egg smell that nearby residents were complaining about. CBS4 was told by a law enforcement source that they believe the deaths were caused by a chain reaction. After the first worker entered the hole and collapsed, the second went in to rescue him and also collapsed, followed by the third. It’s believed that the a combination of methane and hydrogen sulfide gasses, as well as low levels of oxygen is what caused them to collapse.
Back in 2015, OSHA released a new standard for confined spaces in construction, which include all areas that have limited access points and possible air quality hazards. There were several regulations that OSHA added that could have possibly prevented these deaths from happening. According to the rule, each confined space should be inspected by a competent person and provide a continuous monitoring of the airspace. Each person entering the confined space should have also been given testing and monitoring equipment, ventilation equipment, communication equipment, PPE, proper lighting, and emergency equipment, among several other items.
It’s not clear exactly what procedures or equipment the employer provided the three victims, but take this story as a clear example of how not being prepared can cause a tragedy. According to NIOSH, more than 60% of confined space deaths are would-be rescuers, meaning those who are trying to save a victim. That sad statistic was proven accurate by last week’s incident.
In January of this year, tragedy struck a Florida construction company when 3 construction workers died while working underground below a newly paved road. After the first worker entered the hole and collapsed after entering the confined space through a manhole, the second went in to rescue him and also collapsed, followed by the third. After a post-incident investigation, OSHA has released their findings, as well as several fines.
In late June, OSHA pushed the enforcement of their 2016 rule which will require employers to electronically submit injury and illness reports from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017. At that time it was unknown when the administration would launch the platform to submit the data online, but that has now been decided.
In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium, a mineral that can cause deadly lung disease. While not as commonly encountered in the construction industry as other substances that cause terrible lung diseases, like crystalline silica and asbestos, beryllium is linked to a disease called chronic beryllium disease, which kills around 100 people each year. It’s commonly found in coal slag, which is used for sandblasting. According to the New York Times, OSHA estimates that 11,500 construction workers would be affected by OSHA’s reduced exposure limit.
As recently highlighted by several multi-story building fires, contractors should always be prepared in the event a fire starts on a job site. There have been dozens multi-story building fires in the past few years and many were started when the building was topped out. In most cases, the project was completely destroyed, leaving developers and owners to deal with years of delays from insurance claims. A massive five-alarm fire at an Oakland construction site is one of the more recent examples.
In a year that OSHA can’t seem to enforce any new rules, it appears to have found a way to remove a rule from its books. As announced last week, OSHA has removed monorail hoists from Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Employers are still required to follow other OSHA regulations regarding the hoists, but this rule should help clear up some inconsistencies.
For many construction superintendents and project managers across the world, tablets are becoming one of the most important tools on the job site. They’re great for looking at plans, taking pictures, making notes, and running your favorite construction apps. Carrying a tablet does take up at least one of your hands, however, so it can be a hindrance if you need to help a co-worker lift material or climb a ladder.
High demand battery packs have allowed many construction workers ditch the cords on jobsites throughout the country, by providing more power and longer runtime. As with any battery packs, it’s important to follow safety warnings, but with a higher capacity can sometimes mean greater consequences when those warnings are not followed.
Since the beginning of the year, OSHA has had a pretty hard time enforcing any of its new rules due to delays. The silica dust exposure rule was delayed 90 to September 23, the crane certification rule is facing yet another possible delay, and now the electronic injury reporting rule is facing another delay.
Just before 11 am on Monday morning, 6/26, firefighters were called to an under-construction residential building in Queens, New York after concrete scaffolding and formwork collapsed during a pour.
Two construction workers in Sarasota, Florida were recently trapped 15 stories in the air after one of the lines on their suspended scaffolding snapped. One of the two men was able to be pulled to safety by some co-workers on site, but the second was stuck on the scaffold for an hour before the fire department could rescue him.