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.
All trench collapse deaths are preventable. As soon as everyone on a job site starts believing that we might actually make some progress. In just the past 10 days, there have been 4 trench collapse deaths across 3 separate incidents, further highlighting how far we still need to go.
Falls on the jobsite is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction. Keeping up with housekeeping on your site is a great way to reduce risks of falls, but other protections, like rebar caps should be installed when rebar is exposed. A young construction worker recently found out the hard way what happens when rebar is left exposed.
On April 3, a congressional appropriations hearing was held to discuss the U.S. Department of Labor’s Federal funding for fiscal year 2020. During the hearing, the secretary of Labor, R. Alexander Acosta, told the committee how OSHA plans to spend their budget and how the agency fared in the previous year.
Safety training in the construction industry is necessary to build worker awareness – not to mention that it’s legally required – but it can be extremely time consuming and expensive to have completed. There are many companies out there looking to make money off of keeping workers safe, which is why it’s great when a company offers training free of charge, like Procore’s Safety Qualified program.
Cranes collapsing on-site are serious business, especially since many of them resulted in the loss of life. A recent crane collapse on a construction site in Alpharetta, GA was caught on camera after it caught fire, but luckily no one was injured.
There are a lot of different specialty construction contracting sectors within the industry and cruise ships are definitely one of them. There are plenty of unique challenges when dealing with a moving ship versus a static building. A recent accident highlighted the challenges when a crane collapsed on a cruise ship under renovations, injuring 8 people.
The vast majority of safety related “conversations” that I’ve overheard, or have been a part of, in my career has been mostly a supervisor telling a worker to “knock it off” or something to that effect. The typical reaction from the worker is to stop doing the unsafe behavior, wait a few minutes when the supervisor has left the area, and then go right back to the way they were doing it originally.
It seems weird to be talking about new step ladder designs. Other than moving from wood to aluminum to fiberglass, the form and function of a stepladder hasn’t really ever changed. One of the biggest opportunities has always been the gap between how step ladders were designed to be used as opposed to how people actually use them. 3 major manufacturers now have a solution to at least some of those problems.
In 2018, OSHA announced that reducing trenching an excavation hazards on construction sites would be their priority goal. Since that time, the agency has releases a variety of different materials to help build outreach to contractors across the country, including updating their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on trench safety. On a recent newsletter, OSHA highlighted a video about soil classification in trenches and excavations, meant as an introduction to those who want to know more about the process.
Traditional safety training for construction workers includes OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour courses, toolbox talks, and safety inspections. Those training techniques are all important and necessary, but construction workers are an extremely hands-on group of individuals and putting them in real life situations can be much more beneficial to them instead of classroom training.