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 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.
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.
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.
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.
For over 60 years, nominal lumber dimensions have been used in lieu of actual dimensions for lumber. That fact hasn’t stopped 2 class action suits, one for Menards and one for Home Depot, from being filed by an Illinois law firm over the size discrepancy, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
On January 1, 2017, OSHA officially put into effect a revision to workplace injury and illness reporting that requires certain employers to submit recorded information of these instances electronically. Companies were to submit all of this information from the previous year (2016) by July 1, 2017, but now that due date is in jeopardy.
The worst day on the job is when someone on site gets injured. The 2nd through 500th worst days are the legal battle that follows many of those injuries. Nobody expects accidents to happen, but it’s best to be adequately prepared if one does. That not only includes knowing how to react to injuries with a safety plan, but also making sure your company’s documentation is in order in case lawsuits start flying.