Prior to January 20th, 2017, it was almost a daily occurrence for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a press release about a large fine they have recently levied against businesses. Since January 20th, news coming directly from OSHA has been extremely sparse. There were some updates, like the delay of their new silica dust exposure rule and information about their “Safe and Sound Campaign,” but nothing about recent fines and citations.
It’s not clear what stopped the organization from posting these types of “public shaming” posts, but some believe it’s connected to President Trump’s more pro-business approach. Whatever the reason may be, it appears to no longer be an issue, because OSHA has posted their first citation announcement in almost 3 months…and it’s a big one.
In October of 2016, two men were killed after a 12-foot-deep trench collapsed, which, in turn, broke a fire hydrant supply line, which then caused the trench to flood with water in seconds. After OSHA’s investigation, they are proposing $1,475,813 in fines against Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc and cited the company for 18 willful, repeat, serious, and other-than-serious violations. During the investigation, OSHA determined that the company and the owner, who was overseeing the work that day, failed to:
- Install a support system to protect employees in an approximately 12-foot deep trench from a cave-in and prevent the adjacent fire hydrant from collapsing.
- Remove employees from the hazardous conditions in the trench.
- Train the workers in how to identify and address hazards associated with trenching and excavation work.
- Provide a ladder at all times so employees could exit the trench.
- Support structures next to the trench that posed overhead hazards.
- Provide employees with hardhats and eye protection.
The full list of citations can be viewed on OSHA’s website by clicking here. OSHA stated that this same company was also cited for similar hazards in 2007 and 2012.
Trench collapses are easily avoidable by taking appropriate precautions before allowing employees to enter the hole. Sadly, trench related deaths more than doubled in 2016 vs. 2015, but we certainly hope that trend is bucked in 2017. The government is also becoming less tolerant of jobsite deaths involving trenches, as both a site foreman and the general contractor of a different trench collapse in New York were charged with criminally negligent homicide last year.
For more information about trench safety, you can read OSHA’s standards here.
Contact with overhead power lines is a major hazard when working on most construction sites and especially when working from elevated platforms or with heavy machinery.
Back in September, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would extend the deadline for crane operator certification requirements. Although OSHA 1926.1427 has required crane operators to receive certain certifications to be able to operate the machines since 2010, actual enforcement of that rule has been delayed several times.
There is an opportunity to revolutionize the way we protect construction workers from fall hazards while dramatically reducing waste and inefficiency in the construction industry. The Hilmerson Safety Rail System™ was designed and engineered with feedback from industry experts with one goal in mind: Reinvent the guardrail to eliminate inefficiencies, cut costs, send zero waste to landfills, and improve workplace safety.
In most aspects of construction, communication and training is absolutely key to running a successful project and business. That is especially true when it comes to safety on the job site. One of the most popular ways of communicating safety hazards to the field staff is through tool box talks.
As annoying as it may be to deal with sometimes, there is a good reason why trucks carrying oversized loads have spotters and flaggers. We’ve seen the worst of what can happen when the spotter fails to alert truck drivers in time, like the one that caused a 2013 Washington State bridge collapse, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Just one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new law requiring at least 40 hours of safety training for all 185,000 of the city’s construction workers, a partial roof collapse at a Brooklyn construction site left 6 workers injured, 2 of them serious.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
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.
According to the Workzonesafety.com, nearly half (46%) of all work zone-associated worker fatalities from 2003-2010 were caused by being struck by a vehicle. Surprisingly, only around 2% of those workers were killed by a drunk driver. From 2003 to 2015 (the last year this data was updated), a total of 1324 work zone fatalities have been recorded, which averages to about 102 per year.
Residents living near a Jersey City, New Jersey construction site were frightened as they watched “explosions” of smoke coming out of holes in the ground.