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.”
OSHA has determined that most incidents involving scissor lifts result from either lack of fall protection, stabilization, or positioning. It’s important that all workers utilizing a scissor lift are properly trained before they’re allowed to use it (see 29 CFR 1926.21 and 1926.454 for more information). That is both the responsibility of the employer and the employee.
Fall protection is one of the most easily avoidable hazards when using a scissor lift, but it’s often the most violated safety practice. As opposed to aerial lifts, like boom lifts, workers inside the basket of a scissor lift are not required to be tied-off, if the guardrails are properly maintained. To stay safe, OSHA simply recommends that workers should make sure the guardrail system is in place, never stand on the guardrails, and avoid leaning away from the scissor lift.
The category of stabilization covers both tip-over and collapse. In the hazard alert, OSHA points out that most manufacturers do not allow the lift to be moved while it’s still elevated, the lift should be kept away from other equipment to avoid contact, lifts should be used on firm and level surfaces, and workers should avoid using lifts when there are high winds. In 2010, a scissor lift tip-over made national headlines when a Notre Dame football student worker was killed after operating a lift 39 feet in the air during wind gusts of more than 50 miles per hour.
Collapses are very rare, but in order to avoid those, workers should make sure the weight loaded onto the platform does not exceed the manufacturer’s load ratings, other equipment besides the scissor mechanism should not be used to raise the platform, and avoid contact with other equipment on site.
Improper positioning of a scissor lift can create both crushing and electrocution hazards. Be especially careful when operating a lift near other large objects and power lines. To stay safe, OSHA recommends that employers implement traffic control measures, use ground guides, and stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. If the work requires that the lift needs to be closer to a power source, ensure the worker operating then lift has the required electrical training.
Full Report: Hazard Alert- Working Safely with Scissor Lifts | OSHA
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.
According to OSHA, more than 40 percent of all heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry. Many more workers also become ill from extreme heat and humidity. With summer now in full effect, it’s time to re-evaluate your personal steps for keeping safe in the heat and how your company is going to help their employees stay safe.
Every now and then a new product comes along and you ask yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?!” The OVAL Fire Extinguisher is just that product. Architecture and interior design have been moving towards cleaner lines in their spaces. Foregone are the days of bulky protruding water fountains (bubblers for my northern friends) and fire extinguisher cabinets. Interior designers are looking for cleaner and sleeker interior spaces but the 10lb fire extinguishers and cabinets have not changed for quite some time. OVAL is about to change all that.