Cranes are not only an extremely useful piece of equipment, but they’re also extremely dangerous if something goes wrong. Each year, there are several crane collapses and other crane related accidents that claim lives. Having said that, the last thing contractors need is for adrenaline seekers to start climbing and playing around on their cranes. The problem is, it’s already happening.
Just last month, a couple took to Tianjin, China to climb the current world’s tallest crane at 2,000 feet in the air. They didn’t just climb up to the cab, either, they scaled the full length of the boom and stood hung out at the very top. Armed with GoPro cameras and a drone, they got some truly incredible footage, but the fact remains that it poses an interesting threat to construction sites.
This isn’t only happening in China, either, it’sa world wide epidemic. It has happened in Miami, FL, Southampton, England, and Dubai, among countless others. So, the question is, in the event of a thrill seeker entering your job and climbing your crane or building, what can contractors do to limit their liability?
According to the fine folks at The Barthet Firm, a construction law firm based in Miami, Florida, the first thing any contractor anywhere should be doing is to post legally compliant “No Trespassing” signs. In just about every US State and most foreign countries, it is illegal and a crime to trespass onto another’s property. And the way that law gets enforced is through the posting of No Trespassing signs in designated areas of the property. This is serious business; in fact, trespassing onto a construction site in most places is a felony.
But you can’t just nail up some signs and think you’re covered. The law generally states you have to provide adequate warning to anyone entering private property that the property is in fact restricted. You do so by clearly stating that the property is Posted. And to make that stick in court, your signs must be in the right place and have the right wording.
OSHA gives employees many rights in the workplace and employers many responsibilities. One of those is the employee’s right to see the company’s OSHA 300 Injury and Illness Summary Log and the employer’s responsibility to post it.
When OSHA raised its citation penalty amounts for the first time since 1990 in 2016, it raised them 78% to catch up with inflation over that many years. It wasn’t just a one time increase, however, as the amended Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 no longer exempts OSHA from its requirements.
If you have not submitted your company’s OSHA Form 300A electronically through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) yet, you only have a few days left to do so.
OSHA has long used the language in the OSH act to find and hold multiple employers accountable for the actions of another on construction job sites. For decades, OSHA would not only cite the employer whose employees were exposed to hazards, but would also cite the employer who was designated the “controlling employer” on-site, which is most often the general contractor.
The controversial Electronic Injury and Illness Reporting rule from OSHA was supposed to go into effect on December 1, 2017, but OSHA has recently delayed that enforcement to allow those affected to become familiar with the new electronic reporting system.
Project managers and supervisors are responsible for keeping their employees safe and the court system has recently shown that they take that responsibility very seriously. When supervisors act in a negligent manner and people get hurt or killed, they should be held liable.
Construction Safety is talked about constantly. There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.
So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.
OSHA currently controls over 20 laws that protect workers who file safety complaints against their employer or other employees. In general, whistleblowers are protected against retaliation from their employer.
In August of 2016, it was discovered that a luxury high rise condominium complex in San Francisco, which houses several celebrities, was sinking and leaning considerably. The 58-story Millennium Tower contains home that range in value of anywhere from $1.6 million to $10 million. Since the discovery, fingers have been pointed in all directions and several lawsuits have been filed.
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.