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.
Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean and landed in South Florida a little over a week ago, sadly killing at least 50 people in Florida and causing plenty of property damage. High winds that accompanied the storm also caused the collapse of 3 construction cranes – two in Miami and one more in Fort Lauderdale. The crane in Fort Lauderdale was recently dismantled and the action was caught on video.
Video feeds on a construction site are not only great for timelapse videos, they can potentially help stop intruders who enter your site.
As if the high winds and heavy rains weren’t enough of a safety hazard for the people of Florida, citizens who are staying in the area also need to be concerned about the dozens of tower cranes that are still erected throughout downtown.
In June, we shared that OSHA was planning to extend the deadline for crane operator certification requirements until November 10, 2018. Last week, on August 30, OSHA made that official and issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) has formally been around since 1982, when the first site was approved for the program. In short, the VPP is a partnership between OSHA, Management of the Employer, and laborers, with the intent of making jobsites safer for everyone involved. Employers seeking to participate in the VPP must first apply to the program and then undergo a “rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals” in order to be accepted.
Two construction workers in Santa Barbara, California, both in their 20’s, were injured during the installation of a CMU retaining wall when it partially collapsed on Monday.
Falls from height is one of the leading causes of death among construction workers and ladders are a major contributor to that number. According to the CDC, falls from ladders caused 64 fatalities and 11,500 injuries in the construction industry alone in 2011. There are many things ladder users can do to make their work safer, like setting it at proper angles on level ground, checking for damage, and maintaining 3 points of contact, among others. One technology company is trying to take some of the thinking out of ladder set up.
Tool box safety talks are super important, but sometimes they can be pretty dry. In order to keep people engaged and committed to jobsite safety, sometimes you have to mix it up a little bit. A construction company in New Zealand has an aspiring rapper on their team and they decided to enlist his help for a safety talk and it’s pretty entertaining. This company isn’t the first company to use rap music to send a message, as Caterpillar also released a rap about their bulldozers.
Communication is key to a safe and productive construction environment. One of the biggest challenges of effective communication on job sites is the complexity and size of the project, which inhibits being able to contact the correct people in a timely manner. Tracking devices have been a hot button issue in construction news for the last few years. Some examples include RFID tag sensors in hard hats, such as the one being used on certain job sites in Washington DC and time sheet applications, which allow employers to track their employee’s locations using the GPS on their phone’s or tablets.
Construction crews in Parma, Idaho were busy working onmulti-story onion shed, when the under construction structure collapsed, sending some that were on the roof down with it. 14 crew members were either on the structure or around it at the time of collapse, but 6 of them were transported to the hospital. First responders on the scene explained that it was lucky that only 6 were injured.