COVID-19 and the Construction Industry

Here's How You Can Protect Your Business

Monthly Archives: March, 2020

  1. Understanding OSHA’s Crane & Derricks Standard

    The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 220 total crane-related fatalities from 2011 to 2015 with 42 percent of the fatalities taking place in the construction industry. Over half of these cases involved a worker being struck by equipment or an object, while the remaining cases involved transportation incidents or falls to a lower level. 

    In this article, an OSHA attorney will provide a brief overview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) crane and derricks standard and the steps to take to ensure that your jobsite is in compliance. 

    Related: Crane Accidents and OSHA’s Response 

    Assembly/Disassembly

    Assembly/disassembly, with regards to OSHA standards, refers to the assembly and/or disassembly of any equipment covered under the standard. This process must be directed by the A/D director, or a person who meets the criteria for a qualified person and a component person. The A/D director will review the applicable procedures prior to the commencement of the assembly/disassembly and ensure that all crew members understand the following:

    • The tasks they will be performing
    • The hazards associated with the tasks
    • The hazardous positions and/or locations they should avoid

    Power Line Safety

    One of the major causes of crane accidents is crane contact with active power sources, such as energized power lines. To avoid potential encroachment and electrocution, a planning meeting should be conducted between the operator and any workers who will be in the area to review the location of any power lines and the steps implemented to prevent hazards. Additionally, the employer must train each operator and crew member assigned to work with the equipment on the procedures to follow in the event of electrical contact, the danger of the potentially energized zone, and the procedures to properly ground the equipment.

    Operators, Signal Persons, and Riggers

    There are many roles involved in the operation of a crane, including operators, signal persons, and riggers. For each of these roles, the employer must ensure that, prior to the operation of any equipment, the person is qualified and/or certified to perform their role. The qualification/certification process differs based on the role, so it’s important to recognize the differences. An operator must undergo a pre-qualification or certification training period in which they operate equipment as an operator-in-training before becoming an operator. A signal person must demonstrate their knowledge of the types of signals used and their competency in the application of these signals. A rigger must be qualified to perform any of the following tasks: hooking, unhooking, guiding a load, and assembly/disassembly of equipment. 

    Following these standards along with performing routine annual and monthly inspections is the only way to protect your workers from potential harm and avoid receiving an OSHA citation. If you have received an OSHA citation or are concerned about whether or not your jobsite is in compliance with OSHA’s crane and derricks standard, contact our OSHA lawyers as soon as possible. 

    If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA lawyers, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  2. The Importance of Compliance with OSHA’s Lead Standard

    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identified 6,160 cases of blood lead levels (BLLs) ≥10 μg/dL in adults. Of the 6,160 cases, the construction industry accounted for 20 percent — a disproportionately high number given that the construction industry accounts for 6.4 percent of the workforce. 

    Although the prevalence of construction workers with BLLs ≥10 μg/dL has continued to decline, a substantial number of construction workers still have alarming blood lead levels due to workplace exposure. In this article, an OSHA attorney will discuss the importance of complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) lead standard and how you can reduce the risk for lead exposure on your jobsite. 

    Worker Exposure

    Lead is found in a number of construction materials, including but not limited to electrical conduit, welding wire, roofing materials, cornices, tank linings, and paint. Construction workers can become exposed to lead during a number of processes, such as:

    • Handling and demolition of products containing lead
    • Abrasive blasting
    • Welding, cutting, and burning on steel structures
    • Rivet busting
    • Power tool cleaning
    • Removal of lead-based paint from structures

    Construction workers are also at risk of exposing their family members to lead via take-home exposure found in lead dust on their clothing, hair, skin, or tools. 

    Health Hazards

    Lead exposure resulting in blood lead levels (BLL) even as low as 10 µg/dL has been associated with damage to the central nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, hematological system, and the excretory system. Lead exposure can be broken down into two categories: short-term (acute) overexposure and long-term (chronic) overexposure. Both forms of exposure are extremely dangerous and come with unique risks. 

    Acute overexposure can cause a number of conditions from acute encephalopathy and cardiorespiratory arrest to coma and/or death. Chronic exposure can result in severe damage over time to the central nervous system as well as the excretory and reproductive systems.

    OSHA’s Lead Standard 

    OSHA’S lead standard for the construction industry (1926.62) requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a worker protection program that minimizes workers’ risk to lead exposure on the jobsite. It sets a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air and action level (AL) of airborne concentration of 30µg/m3. Both are averaged over an eight-hour period. Other major aspects of the standard’s requirements include:

    • Employees exposed to high levels of lead must be enrolled in a medical surveillance program.
    • Employers must use engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure.
    • Employees must observe good personal hygiene practices, especially before leaving the jobsite.
    • Employees must be provided with protective clothing and respiratory protection as necessary.

    The information above is only a brief overview of OSHA’s regulations regarding lead exposure in construction. It is your responsibility as a contractor to ensure your workers are protected from potential hazards like lead that could lead to serious health concerns. If you are concerned about whether or not your jobsite is compliant with OSHA’s standard for lead in the construction industry, consult with one of our OSHA lawyers.

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA attorney, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  3. Essential Summer Safety Tips Contractors Need to Know

    As summer approaches, we wanted to briefly discuss the most important pieces of information contractors need to know about working in the scalding heat of the summer. The summer season in Florida hosts a myriad of problems for contractors, with unpredictable weather and soaring temperatures making any job a challenging process. 

    Workplace accidents are also the most prevalent throughout the summer months, with a higher number of injuries sustained on a construction site than any other season. Our Florida OSHA defense attorneys are here to assist you with any questions or safety problems you may have year-round, including during the brutal summer months. 

    Maintaining Safe Working Conditions

    Safe working conditions are the contractor’s best form of defense against an OSHA citation. As the year goes on, some standards may be accidentally overlooked on the jobsite; however, they won’t be overlooked by a compliance officer from OSHA. Florida’s summers and the unpredictable weather that follows can make any jobsite unruly, but with the help of a Florida OSHA defense attorney, you can greatly reduce the chances of being issued a violation.

    Related: 12 Unsafe Acts That Lead to Job Site Accidents

    Here are a few of the common challenges of summertime safety practices:

    Intermittent Weather

    Intermittent thunderstorms make a construction site even more of an ever-changing workplace, where the jobsite can be damaged and workers can be put in danger if the necessary precautions were not put in place. If a storm is brewing, site managers need to ensure construction equipment is secured or tied down. Above all else, make certain the employee’s safety is top priority. After a storm has passed, there will be plenty of wet, slippery surfaces that can present dangerous working conditions, especially for workers working at great heights. In order to maintain an injury-free jobsite and ensure the safety of your workers, make sure all working surfaces are appropriately dried and inspect any equipment left out in the storm.

    Related: Lightning Safety in Florida

    Heat Exhaustion

    Heat exhaustion on jobsites is a very serious issue, especially in climates known for their summer heat. Knowing the symptoms of heat exhaustion will help you prevent it from occurring on your jobsite. 

    The first step contractors should take to help their employees avoid heat exhaustion is to supply an adequate amount of water and shaded areas to allow their employees to stay hydrated and cool down while on the job. Any worker exhibiting symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, headaches, or a cold sweat should immediately be told to stop their work and rest in a shaded area with access to plenty of cool water. The summer months are grueling for any hard labor job, and without taking the right precautions, you could be the target of an OSHA inspection or violation. Our Florida OSHA defense lawyers will help make sure you are represented against any OSHA violation you may encounter. 

    If you would like to speak with a Florida OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  4. 4 Tips for Lockout/Tagout

    Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) consistently ranks in the top 10 most frequently cited standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually. Of the 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry occupations in 2018, 21.1 percent were in construction, where employees are frequently exposed to electrical hazards.

    Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard 1910.147 prevents an estimated 50,000 injuries and 120 fatalities each year. In this article, a Texas OSHA lawyer will provide four tips for ensuring your lockout/tagout program is effective and your employees are protected. 

    Use Lockout/Tagout Devices

    Lockout and tagout devices are a crucial component of your program. Lockout devices are used for equipment that can be locked out, such as circuit breakers, plugs, and switches. The lockout device is held in place by a lock or combination and prevents the energizing of the corresponding machine.

    Tagout devices are warning devices which are fastened to the energy isolating device to indicate the device and the equipment being controlled cannot be operated until the tagout device is removed. In order to comply with OSHA standards, ensure that any and all machines that may need lockout or tagout devices have the appropriate devices in place. Then, be sure to standardize and organize any devices. The lockout/tagout devices must be durable as well as capable of identifying the individual user.

    Certify Employee Training is Up to Date

    Retraining of lockout/tagout procedures is necessary for any authorized and affected employees under any of the following conditions:

    • Change in machines, equipment, or processes that presents a new hazard
    • Change in job assignment
    • Change in energy control procedures
    • Deviations or inadequacies in energy control procedures

    When any of these conditions occur, it is of the utmost importance for employers to certify employees are retrained in order to establish new or revised control procedures. Records of employee training must be kept up to date and certified for the safety of your jobsite.

    Ensure Your Procedures Are Machine-Specific 

    Under OSHA’s lockout/tagout standards, any lockout/tagout procedures utilized on your jobsite must be specific to the machine or piece of equipment the procedure will apply to. In order to ensure your procedures are machine-specific, you need to include specific procedural steps and requirements for not only shutting down, isolating, and securing the machine but also how to test the machine to verify the effectiveness of any energy-control measures, such as lockout and tagout devices. 

    Understand Who is Affected by Lockout/Tagout

    Complying with OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard requires protecting each and every individual who may be involved with or present in the area during lockout/tagout procedures. All authorized employees should be trained in recognizing hazardous energy sources in the workplace and the methods for energy isolation and control. Employees who may be working in the area where the procedure is taking place should be informed about the procedure and consequences involved with attempts to restart or reenergize equipment that has been locked out or tagged out. When outside servicing personnel are engaged in lockout/tagout procedures, the on-site employer and outside employer should inform one another of their respective procedures.

    As machines and operating procedures change over time, it is important to make sure your lockout/tagout program is up to date and reflective of these changes. If you have received an OSHA citation involving the lockout/tagout standard, contact one of our Texas OSHA defense lawyers as soon as possible.

    If you would like to speak with a Texas OSHA lawyer, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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