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Whether on the road or in the office, Safety Matters allows you to stay informed about safety and health practices in the construction industry. This monthly publication will deliver timely news, important regulatory updates, best practices and chapter and member information.

 

Construction professionals will be able to take a wide range of mandatory and optional safety training programs online thanks to a new collaboration between the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and ClickSafety, who is authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide its online Outreach Training Program. Association officials added that the collaboration will provide a range of online construction-related safety courses, including the mandatory OSHA 10- and 30-hour safety training programs for employees of its member firms.

"This new safety program will provide thousands of construction professionals with a tremendous opportunity to sharpen their safety skills," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. "Our members are constantly looking for ways to improve the safety of their worksites, and this program is designed to make it even easier for them to do just that."

Sandherr noted that the association chose to collaborate with ClickSafety because of its long standing relationship with OSHA and its ability to offer over 300 courses and 70 in Spanish. In addition, ClickSafety is OSHA-authorized to offer the newly updated OSHA 10-Hour Construction, 30-Hour Construction and 10-Hour General Industry courses. The firm also offers the 10-Hour Road Builder, 10-Hour Cal/OSHA and 10-Hour Construction Spanish courses, all at a 10 percent discount for AGC members. Some of the other courses available to employees of AGC member firms include Focus Four prevention: Fall protection, electrocution, struck-by, caught-between; Mold in construction; EM 385-1-1 safety courses, among others.

"We are proud to be a long standing OSHA authorized Online Outreach Training provider and collaborate with the AGC to help member firms meet the demands of OSHA standards to educate, enable and encourage safety," said Brian Tonry, executive vice president and general manager of ClickSafety. "With our combined industry leadership, we will provide AGC members unprecedented access to OSHA and construction, environmental and general industry safety courses, resulting in increased awareness of, and responsibility for, safety training."

The new collaboration builds on the association’s long tradition of providing essential safety training for employees of its member firms. The association has provided the 10- and 30-hour OSHA courses for more than 3,100 workers during the past five years alone. The new collaboration will allow the association to continue providing the mandatory safety training, plus a host of new safety programs designed to reduce construction injuries and fatalities.

This safety training collaboration was designed to complement the range of safety programs the association already provides for its members. Those programs include new, English and Spanish language fall-safety training and a comprehensive work zone safety curriculum. Thanks to the association’s efforts, and the work of its member firms, the construction fatality rate has declined by over 40 percent since 2006.

"Just because we’ve made a lot of progress in improving workplace safety, doesn’t mean our job is done," Sandherr said. "We are going to keep pushing to provide our members with every opportunity to improve the safety of our industry."

For more information call (877) 507-7233 or contact AGCSales@ClickSafety.com.

 
Events
Over 130 contractors traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the 2012 AGC Safety and Health Committee meeting, held July 11-13, 2012. In addition to the networking opportunities and forums with federal agencies, attendees received updates on legislative issues that directly affect the safety and health professionals in the construction industry. Attendees were also able to schedule visits with their congressional delegations.

During the congressional visits, the safety and health professionals addressed the industry and AGC’s strong and lasting commitment to safety, while also stressing the importance of taking a cooperative approach to safety. Cooperative relationships between the construction industry and OSHA help promote safe and healthy work environments. Attendees advocated that many proposed regulations could have a negative impact on the industry and should be reconsidered before being implemented.
 


Webinar: Essential Safety Matters for HR
Sept. 5, 2012
2 - 3 p.m. EDT

Safety Management Training Course
Sept. 18-20, 2012
Madison, Wisconsin

Advanced Safety Management Training Course
October 16-18, 2012
Madison, Wisconsin

Safety & Health Committee Meeting
January 16-18, 2013
Tampa, Florida

 
Chapter News

With heat waves predicted across many California regions over the next week, the California Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA) urges all employers of outdoor workers to revisit their heat illness prevention process and their emergency response procedures to ensure they are thoroughly prepared.

"Cal/OSHA's adoption of the nation's first set of heat illness standards has done much to prevent heat deaths throughout California, but that does not mean our work is done," said DIR Director Christine Baker. "This is going to be the hottest weather in three years after two summers of milder temperatures.

Employers must be prepared to handle periods of high heat, conduct training refreshers and plan ahead so that their front line staff and supervisors can take proper precautions during times of high heat."

"Heat illness is preventable and should not occur if proper procedures are followed. As high heat develops across the state, I remind all employers to take special care so that they can provide the appropriate safeguards for their outdoor workers," said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. "This includes closely monitoring the weather and modifying the work accordingly. It also includes making sure everyone on the worksite knows how to prevent heat illness, as well as how to handle a medical emergency."

The regulations require employers to: Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention. Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently. Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break. Give workers a period of time to get used to the heat, especially during a heat wave or for new workers. This is known as "acclimatization." Prepare a site-specific emergency heat plan and train workers on steps to take if someone gets sick.

The heat illness prevention standard was strengthened two years ago to include a high heat provision that must be implemented by five different industries when temperatures reach 95 degrees. These procedures include observing employees, closely supervising new employees, and reminding all employees throughout the shift to drink water. The specified industries are agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction material or other heavy material. However, all employers are advised to take additional precautions during periods of high heat.

A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA's website. Additional information on heat illness prevention and training material in both English and Spanish can be found on Cal/OSHA's website and at the "Water Rest Shade" campaign site. Materials in additional languages can be accessed through the website.

Cal/OSHA's Consultation Unit (800) 963-9424 provides free information and training on occupational safety and health hazards and ways to protect workers from heat illness, confined space hazards and other workplace hazards. Consultation Services' offices throughout the state are posted on Cal/OSHA's website.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, can call the California Workers' Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757 or 1-877-99-CALOR.

http://www.dir.ca.gov/ 

 
Best Practices

By Pete Rice, CSP, CIH, REHS

According to OSHA and the BLS, overall in the U.S., workplace fatalities and injuries have actually come down. In August 2011, the BLS released final updates to the 2010 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and within the private construction sector, the final fatal work injury total was down 7 percent from 2009 and 2010, the fourth consecutive year that fatal work injury totals declined in construction. Not only are fatalities declining, but they are declining at a rate greater than the rate at which construction activity has slowed over the past several years.

These reductions are outstanding and in part due to the hard work and dedication of safety and health professionals throughout the country. However, the bottom line is there are still construction workers dying on the job every day. And this is unacceptable.

The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites are referred to as OSHA’s Focus Four. They are falls, electrocution, struck-by object, and caught-in/between.

These Fatal Four hazards were responsible for nearly three out of five (56 percent) construction worker deaths in 2010, BLS reports.

The actual breakdown of these causes of fatalities on construction sites in 2010 is as follows (numbers are a percentage of the 774 total construction related fatalities that occurred in 2010):

  • Falls – 264 (34 percent)
  • Electrocutions – 76 (10 percent)
  • Struck-by Object – 64 (8 percent)
  • Caught-in/between – 33 (4 percent)

To mitigate these fatality statistics, OSHA and other professional safety and health organizations, both in the private and public sectors, are targeting the contributing factors. This article attempts to summarize essentials of OSHA’s Focus Four. Also, it is important to recognize that resources have been brought to bear to combat these focus four incidents. Principally through outreach, training helps inform and enable employees and employers to better recognize, evaluate and control falls, electrocutions, struck-by objects and caught-in/between hazards on construction sites and related activities. For more information, see https://www.osha.gov/dte/outreach/construction/focus_four/index.html.

FALL HAZARDS
On most construction sites, there is no greater chance of death or serious injury than when working at height. Fall hazards are present at most worksites and many workers are exposed to these hazards on a daily basis. A fall hazard is any exposure condition at the worksite that could cause a worker to lose their balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall. Any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard.

A worker is at risk any time they are working at a height of four feet or more. OSHA generally requires that fall protection be provided for an employee working at a height of four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery. This includes impalement hazards (e.g., rebar). The importance of fall protection cannot be stressed enough.

Nearly half (48 percent) of all fatal falls in private industry involve construction workers. In the period between 1992 and 2005, about one-third of the fatal falls in construction were from roofs, 18 percent were from scaffolding or staging, 16 percent were from ladders, and 8 percent were from girders or structural steel. The other 25 percent of fatal falls includes falls through existing floor openings, from nonmoving vehicles, from aerial lifts, etc.

Each year, on average, between 150 and 200 workers are killed and more than 100,000 are injured as a result of falls at construction sites. OSHA recognizes that accidents involving falls are generally complex events frequently involving a variety of factors. Consequently the standard for fall protection deals with both the human and equipment-related issues in protecting workers from fall hazards.

The three generally accepted methods of protection for workers on a construction site who are exposed to vertical drops of six feet or more are: guardrails, safety net systems and personal fall arrest systems.

  • Guardrails are considered prevention systems, as they stop the employee from having a fall in the first place.
  • Safety net systems are designed to catch the employee and break their fall. They must be placed as close as attainable under the working surface, but never more than 30 feet below. 
  • A personal fall arrest system consists of an anchorage, connectors, and a full-body harness that work together to break the employee’s fall.

Additionally, employers have certain responsibilities specific to fall protection that include:

  • Providing fall protection
  • Ensuring proper scaffold construction
  • Ensuring safe ladder use and condition
  • Conducting daily worksite equipment maintenance and personal protective equipment (PPE) inspections by an authorized competent person
  • Providing training

ELECTRICAL HAZARDS
The numbers of deaths by electrocution clearly show that exposure to electricity is a major hazard to construction workers. Electrocution results when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy.

An electrical hazard can be defined as a serious workplace hazard that exposes workers to the following (BESAFE):

  • Burns
  • Electrocution
  • Shock 
  • Arc Flash/Arc Blast
  • Fire
  • Explosions

An average of 143 construction workers are killed each year by contact with electricity (based on government data for 12 years, 1992 through 2003). Electrical workers had the most electrocutions per year with the most serious concern being working “live” or near live wires. Proper protocol is using de-energizing and using lockout/tag-out procedures. Among non-electricians (e.g., construction laborers, carpenters, supervisors of non-electrical workers and roofers), failure to avoid live overhead power lines and a lack of basic electrical safety knowledge are the major concerns.

The major types of electrocution incidents come from:

  • Contact with overhead power lines;
  • Contact with energized sources (e.g., live parts, damaged or bare wires, defective equipment or tools); and
  • Improper use of extension and flexible cords.

Here are just some of the things we can do to better protect against electrocution hazards:

  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work;
  • Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment;
  • Maintain a safe distance away from power lines; learn the safe distance requirements;
  • Do not operate portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double insulated; 
  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection; and 
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms

STRUCK-BY HAZARDS
Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.

Struck-by hazards are categorized as follows:

  • Struck by flying object
  • Struck by falling object 
  • Struck by swinging object 
  • Stuck by rolling object

An example of a struck-by hazard can be illustrated by one real life event – four workers were installing signs on a highway when a pick-up truck changed several lanes and entered the work area. The truck struck one of the workers, knocking him off the road and over a bridge rail. He fell approximately 18 ft. and died from his injuries. Another example would be when an employee was struck by a nail from a nail gun fired by another employee thru a wall made of wallboard.

In 2010, there were 402 occupational fatalities caused by struck-by hazards. This statistic represents a serious concern.

To better prevent struck-by incidents:

  • Never position yourself between moving and fixed objects; 
  • Stay alert of heavy equipment and stay clear of lifted or suspended loads;
  • Check vehicles before each shift to assure that all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition and do not drive a vehicle in reverse gear with an obstructed rear view, unless it has an audible reverse alarm, or another worker signals that it is safe; and
  • Wear appropriate PPE to include eye and face, head and high visibility clothing.

CAUGHT-IN / BETWEEN HAZARDS
Events (examples) that should be classified as caught-in include:

  • Cave-ins (trenching)
  • Being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment (this includes strangulation as the result of clothing caught in running machinery and equipment)
  • Being compressed or crushed between rolling, sliding, or shifting objects such as semi-trailers and a dock wall, or between a truck frame and a hydraulic bed that is lowering .

The number of fatalities involving caught-in or between hazards in the private construction industry has actually decreased by about 20 percent since 2003. The biggest decrease in caught-in or between fatalities in the private construction industry has been in excavation or trench cave-ins. However, there were still 92 construction fatalities in 2008 as a result of caught-in or between hazards.

To prevent caught-in / between hazards:

  • Use machinery that is properly guarded;
  • Use other methods to ensure that machinery is sufficiently supported, secured or otherwise made safe (e.g., de-energize equipment and use lockout / tag-out and block-out procedures);
  • Use protection to prevent from being pinned between equipment, materials or other objects; 
  • Avoid entry and working in unsafe excavations and only after inspection of a competent person; 
  • Seek and take advantage of safety training opportunities; and 
  • Take extra precautions and considerations before entering into confined or enclosed spaces.

The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites have recently been given the title of OSHA’s Focus (or Fatal) Four. Being sure not to lose sight of other workplace hazards, we must focus our attention on the Focus Four to further reduce the trend in workplace fatalities.

To help us in that effort, OSHA has developed a number of tools to include training presentations, handouts, and tailgate and toolbox topics. Learn more at www.osha.gov or contact those occupational safety and health resources available to you which may include your employer’s safety department, insurance broker, loss control representative, industry association(s) and/or accredited safety and industrial hygiene professionals.

Although those of us that practice construction safety and health have done a decent job in minimizing worker deaths, we can do so much more.

References:

  • The U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • The Center for Construction Research and Training 
  • ClickSafety, 2012 Focus Four Modules

Pete Rice, CSP, CIH, REHS, has over 35 years of experience with occupational safety, industrial hygiene, and environmental health programs. He is a certified safety professional, certified industrial hygienist and registered environmental health specialist who is part of the course development team at ClickSafety.com, the nation’s premier on-line safety training provider to the construction industry. Mr. Rice is also the manager for safety, health and environmental programs at Ahtna Netiye’, a native American corporation bringing innovative solutions to American industry and government services.

 
 
         

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