National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls in Construction

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls

OSHA has resources for raising awareness and training workers about fall prevention during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls to keep workers safe.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers. Read More»


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

New video for tower workers: Suspension trauma

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Photo: NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association

Watertown, SD — Proper rescue planning for suspension trauma incidents at tower sites is the focus of a new video from NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association.

Suspension trauma, also known as orthostatic intolerance, can occur when a tower worker falls and remains suspended in a harness after his or her fall arrest system activates. The body may go into shock as a result of a disruption in blood flow, which may lead to unconsciousness and even death. Warning signs of suspension trauma are related to those associated with shock: pale complexion, feeling faint, sweating, leg numbness, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

Acting quickly is critical. If a climber notices signs of suspension trauma in a fellow climber and the worker is conscious, longtime rescue trainer Brian Horner advises getting the climber to move his or her legs to keep blood flowing. Ask the individual how he or she is doing, put the suspended climber in a horizontal position, and begin to safely lower him or her to the ground, seeking help from additional climbers if necessary.

If the individual is unconscious, however, “that’s where everything changes,” Horner said. “Everything now has got to be expedited, whether it be an airway, whether it be extrication, whether it be lowering. In fact, this guy now is a cardiac patient. The best treatment for this worker is down there,” Horner added, pointing to the ground.

Once a climber suffering from suspension trauma is lowered to the ground, employers or workers should call 911 and lay the individual flat to stabilize him or her. Then, if the climber is unconscious, place the patient on his or her left side to reduce vomiting, and wait for help to arrive.

Horner encourages industry workers and employers to view the video and “proactively pursue” additional training, education and research related to suspension trauma.

The video is the most recent installment in NATE’s Climber Connection series, which promotes safe work practices for communication tower workers. The association asks climbers and other industry stakeholders to use the hashtag #ClimberConnection when posting the video on social media platforms.


As pandemic continues, don’t lose sight of common worker safety hazards, experts caution

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Photo: Terraxplorer/iStockphoto

Silver Spring, MD — As the United States approaches six months of adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees mustn’t overlook longtime safety hazards such as falls and electricity.

That was the message from Rodd Weber, a Las Vegas-based corporate safety director at The PENTA Building Group, during an Aug. 13 roundtable webinar hosted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

“I’m not saying to back off of that [attention to COVID-19],” Weber said, “but I would just caution everyone to don’t become so focused on COVID that you lose sight of the fact that we have plenty of other hazards that could literally kill somebody at any given time on a jobsite … much quicker than COVID ever will. And probably, we need to be paying attention a lot more to some of those things. And there certainly has been a distraction this year on some of those issues.

“So, I would just encourage everyone not to take it easy on the COVID stuff, but don’t lose focus of our … hazards that are out there with regard to safety.”

In a July 16 CPWR webinar on contact tracing basics and applications in construction, Travis Parsons, associate director of occupational safety and health for the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, also spoke about how the complexities of the pandemic have helped create distraction.

“Us in the construction industry all know that there’s a lot of uncertainty going on right now,” Parsons said. “We have a lot of workers that never stopped working – essential workforce. We have a lot of workers now that are returning to work. We have differences depending on your geography, what state you’re in and what the protocols are, so there’s a lot of uncertainty.”


McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

OSHA moves National Safety Stand-Down to September

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Photo: OSHA

Washington — OSHA has rescheduled the seventh annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction for Sept. 14-18.

The event initially was set for May 4-8, but was postponed March 27 over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It now will coincide with Construction Safety Week, which also was recently rescheduled for Sept. 14-18.

Speaking during a July 2 webinar hosted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, OSHA Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham said the agency and its partners in the stand-down – NIOSH and CPWR – “are going to be working on getting information out to you as stakeholders on how to do a falls stand-down in a COVID environment” that includes physical distancing and other precautionary measures.

Falls are among the leading causes of fatal workplace injuries among construction workers. OSHA “encourages employers to remain vigilant and to use all available resources to enhance worker safety.” According to the agency, millions of construction workers have participated in the campaign since the stand-down began in 2014, with events having occurred in all 50 states and internationally.

Ladder safety during the COVID-19 pandemic: Association releases guidance

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Photo: Zephyr18/iStockphoto

Glasgow, Scotland — More regular deep cleaning of ladders are among the tips the Ladder Association has developed for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The free online resource cites as the basis of its recommendation a study, published in April in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) can live on stainless steel or plastic ladders for up to 72 hours.

Employers should communicate measures they’re taking to protect workers, remind employees about proper hygiene practices and encourage workers to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Because physical distancing can be difficult to practice when multiple people are needed to perform certain ladder tasks, including stabilizing and raising the equipment, the association has tips for employers to consider for these activities. Employers also should perform risk assessments and review rescue plans.

“Keeping ladder users safe now means protecting them from coronavirus as well as falls and other injuries,” Gail Hounslea, chair of the Ladder Association and managing director of the Ladderstore, said in a June 12 press release. “Businesses are facing the unprecedented challenge of getting people safely back to work during a pandemic. Ladders are only a small part of what they’ve got to consider, but we realized we could use our expertise to support all those whose workers will be heading back up ladders and need to ensure every safety aspect is covered.”

National Forklift Safety Day panel advises reinforcing the basics during annual event

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Image: kadmy/iStockphoto

Washington — Reviewing familiar safety processes during the conclusion of a National Forklift Safety Day virtual presentation June 9, NFSD official Chuck Moratz told attendees, “There is no downside to constant, positive reinforcement.”

Moratz, chair of the NFSD task force, echoed the sentiments of four other experts who spoke before him. The panel, which presented during the program organized by the Industrial Truck Association and DC Velocity, agreed that refining the basics is a vital starting point to mitigating occupational forklift hazards. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 115 workers were killed in incidents involving forklifts in 2018 – a 55.4% increase from the previous year.

“Any time you have employees working in close proximity to forklifts or other heavy equipment, the potential for serious incidents becomes very real, especially when they have not been properly trained and are not abiding by mandatory safety rules and procedures,” said Moratz, who also is the senior vice president of manufacturing and engineering at the Lexington, KY-based Clark Material Handling Co. “Both pedestrians and forklift operators need to know the safety rules and procedures, and they must follow them in order to keep the flow of products moving without endangering others in the process.”

OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks Standard (1910.178) was the agency’s seventh most cited standard during fiscal year 2019. Four of the top five sections cited within the standard pertain to operator training.

The standard requires training programs to include components of formal instruction, practical training and a workplace performance evaluation. Before each job, forklift operators should check the vehicle’s seat belts, tires, lights, horn, brakes, backup alarms, fluid levels, and moving and load-supporting forklift parts.

Operators should be reminded that forklifts are not personal vehicles and to never engage in horseplay, OSHA advises.

Overall, 729 occupational fatalities involving forklifts occurred from 2011 to 2018, according to BLS data. Additionally, acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said during the presentation that an average of 22 workers are injured in nonfatal forklift incidents each day.

“These numbers represent real people whose lives are disrupted, or worse, by a preventable incident,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt said OSHA continues to analyze comments from a March 2019 Request for Information seeking input from powered industrial truck stakeholders on “employer requirements for operation, maintenance and worker training.” In another regulatory update, Sweatt said OSHA expects to publish a proposed rule this year “updating references to consensus standards dealing with the design and construction” of powered industrial trucks.

An OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health work group is set to discuss the latter topic as part of a public teleconference slated for June 30.

“These rulemakings will help to ensure that consensus standards referenced in OSHA rule address current industry practice and state-of-the-art technology,” Sweatt said. “OSHA understands that working with stakeholders is the best way to achieve the agency’s mission.”

The eighth annual National Forklift Safety Day is scheduled for June 8, 2021.

‘It happens in a second’: CPWR webinar focuses on preventing trench collapses

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Silver Spring, MD — Pausing on an image of workers installing a septic tank liner, OSHA Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham told attendees of a May 28 webinar they were looking at “a tragedy in the making.”

The photo showed an unprotected trench, and one of the workers pictured died when the trench collapsed moments after the photo was taken, said Ketcham, one of several experts featured in the webinar, hosted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

“This is why we’re focusing on trenching,” he said. “It happens in a second, and the conditions can lead to loss of life very quickly.”

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 workers died in excavation or trenching incidents in 2018.

Joe Wise, regional customer training manager of trench safety at United Rentals, and Alan Echt, senior industrial hygienist at the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health, joined Ketcham in addressing factors that influence trench safety during the one-hour presentation.

Atop the list are protective systems. The OSHA standard for trenching and excavation (29 CFR 1926.650-652, Subpart P) requires protective systems for trenches that are 5 feet or deeper, unless the excavation occurs in stable rock. A registered professional engineer is required to design protective systems for trenches that are at least 20 feet deep or approve tabulated data prepared for the system.

The three primary protective systems are:
Sloping (or benching): Cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
Shoring: Installing aluminum hydraulics or other types of supports to prevent cave-ins.
Shielding: Using trench boxes or other supports to prevent cave-ins.

Wise highlighted the vital role served by the designated competent person, who leads the operation and assesses existing and potential hazards before work begins.

“There’s so many different ways to help shore up a trench, and not every job is the same, so someone that is a competent person, that has that awareness of many different solutions, is going to be better suited to make sure that job can not only be safe, but also very productive in the process of that project,” Wise said.

The National Utility Contractors Association recently declared June Trench Safety Month. In addition, the North American Excavation Shoring Association and OSHA are set to host a series of educational trench safety summits in Boston; Orlando, FL; Los Angeles; and Denver during the summer and early fall.

Hand sanitizers can ignite, cause burns, experts warn workers

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Photo: Melissa Ruminski

Rockville, MD — Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, the liquid solutions – which contain isopropyl alcohol – are flammable and can cause burn injuries, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America is warning workers.

In a May 1 safety memo, the association describes an incident in which a worker suffered first- and second-degree burns to the hands after using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and then touching a metal surface before the liquid evaporated. “Due to static electricity, the vapor from the hand sanitizer ignited with an almost invisible flame on both hands,” the memo states.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry issued a similar warning, saying workers should act with caution when using these products.

“A best practice to protect employees from this hazard includes waiting to let the sanitizer fully absorb into the skin or evaporate prior to returning to work,” Jennifer L. Rose, consultation director of the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program at the state’s DOLI, told Safety+Health. “Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable and can easily ignite. Vapors may form explosive mixtures with air, traveling to a source of ignition and flash back. It is not really the liquid burning, it is the vapors that catch fire.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol against SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – particularly on jobsites where soap and water aren’t readily available. MCAA identifies construction worksites and mechanical service areas as high risk for burn injuries related to hand sanitizers.

Potential causes of ignition on a jobsite, Rose said, include:

  • Sparks from electrical tools and equipment
  • Sparks, arcs and hot metal surfaces from welding and cutting
  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Open flames from portable torches and heating units as well as boilers, pilot lights, ovens and driers
  • Sparks from grinding and crushing operations
  • Sparks caused by static electricity

“Isopropyl alcohol should be kept away from heat, sparks, flames and other sources of ignition, as well as strong oxidizers, acetaldehyde, chlorine, ethylene oxide, acids and isocyanates,” Rose said. “Isopropyl alcohol should be stored in a tightly closed container in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Hand sanitizer in quantities above 5 gallons should be stored in a flammable liquids cabinet or in areas protected by an automatic sprinkler system.”

Trench Safety Stand Down set for June 15-19

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Fairfax, VA — The National Utility Contractors Association, with support from OSHA and the North American Excavation Shoring Association, is calling on employers involved in trench work to participate in the fifth annual Trench Safety Stand Down, scheduled for June 15-19.

The event is intended to raise awareness of the dangers of trenching and excavation, as well as promote the use of protective systems such as sloping, shoring and shielding. The OSHA standard for trenching and excavation (29 CFR 1926.650, Subpart P) requires protective systems for trenches that are 5 feet or deeper, unless the excavation occurs in stable rock.

As part of the event, NUCA, NAXSA and OSHA are offering free online tools, including posters, checklists, fact sheets and videos.

OSHA cautions that 1 cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, and adds that trench collapses are “rarely survivable.” According to NUCA, citing data from OSHA, 17 workers died in trench incidents in 2018.

As a result of previously successful campaigns, NUCA has expanded upon the stand-down and declared June the inaugural Trench Safety Month, a May 20 organizational press release states.

“In this industry, the safety of our employees on the jobsite is our top priority,” NUCA CEO Doug Carlson said in the release. “Making this June ‘Trench Safety Month’ emphasizes the valuable training and experiences our members’ employees are gaining through the Trench Safety Stand Down week held annually in June throughout our industry.”

Electrical safety group creates infographic for people working from home

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Photo: Electrical Safety Foundation International

Arlington, VA — Aiming to promote electrical safety among people who are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Electrical Safety Foundation International has published an infographic.

According to ESFI, more than 35,000 residential fires occur annually, resulting in more than 1,100 injuries, 500 deaths and $1.4 billion in property damage.

“Transitioning from working in an office to now working from home may present new electrical safety concerns in your home that have not existed before,” ESFI President Brett Brenner said in a press release.

The foundation’s recommendations include:

  • Don’t overload outlets.
  • Unplug appliances that are not in use to save energy and mitigate the risk of shock and fire.
  • Regularly inspect electrical and extension cords for damage. Use extension cords only on a temporary basis.
  • Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors or windows. Make sure cords don’t become tripping hazards.
  • Keep papers and other possibly combustible items at least 3 feet away from space heaters and heat sources. Don’t plug space heaters or fans into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Use proper wattage for lamps and lighting.
  • Test your home’s smoke alarms monthly, change their batteries annually and replace units every 10 years.