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.
Almost 18 months ago, an under construction pedestrian bridge on Florida International University’s (FIU) campus collapsed, killing 6 people and injuring another 8. While many investigations have closed, including OSHA’s scathing report, families of victims and survivors have been awaiting the results of civil lawsuits filed against the companies in charge of the projects.
The spring of 2019 saw 3 trench collapse deaths in a span of 10 days. One at a home construction site in Colorado, another during a culvert install in Marysville, Ohio, and a third at a residential site in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio. The latter has recently received a hefty fine and penalty from OSHA.
Personal fall protection devices are extremely important to saving lives and preventing injuries due to falls on a jobsite. Half the battle is getting your team to wear harnesses, but when they do, you need to trust that the devices will work when they’re needed. 3M has recently issued an immediate stop use and product recall on two of their fall protection products.
While placing concrete on the 7th floor of a new hotel in Houston, TX, 16 construction workers were suddenly sent falling to the 6th floor below, sending 9 of them to the hospital, according to local news reports.
A recent crane collapse in Dallas, TX, that left a woman, who was in her apartment, dead, several others injured, and hundreds displaced, has triggered a local news station to dig further into what the city and state are doing to protect from these accidents in the future.
Last year, over 130 organizations petitioned OSHA to issue a heat protection standard, citing needs for mandatory rest breaks, PPE, hydration, and monitoring. On July 10, 2019, Representative Judy Chu of California introduced H.R. 3668 to meet the organizations’ request.
Many areas throughout the country saw their hottest temperatures of the year over the weekend. In response to the forecasts, OSHA issued a reminder to employers about the dangers of heat illness.
Falls are, by far, the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, accounting for nearly 40% each year. That fact is the main reason why personal fall protection devices are so heavily stressed in the industry. But, even if your fall is arrested by a harness, you’re not out of the woods yet, as serious complications can happen while you’re being suspended in the air.
We all know – or, at least, should know – about construction’s Fatal Four Hazards: Falls, Struck-by, Caught-in or Between, and Electrical. Those hazards get most of the attention in most safety training courses in construction and rightfully so, they contribute to a large majority of all deaths on the jobsite. A recent study, however, highlights the need to take certain health hazards more seriously, due to their long term effects.
Summer is officially upon us and beating the heat will keep you healthy and productive. There are many summer dangers on construction sites, but OSHA maintains that water, rest, and shade are the most important factors to avoiding heat illness. Here are a few products to help keep you and hydrated on your jobsites this summer.