fall protection

Steps Boston Construction Firms Can Take To Avoid Accidents and OSHA Citations

As reported by the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe – Boston city officials on Friday cited a contractor at a North End construction site where a woman was struck by a falling metal railing and seriously injured, alleging the company was conducting work without proper permits and creating “an unsafe and dangerous” environment.

The city’s Inspectional Services Department has “issued a stop-work order for 47 Commercial Wharf East, in addition to six additional worksites currently supervised by Corolla Contracting. Each site will be inspected to ensure they are properly contained until further notice.”

SHA records showed that Corolla Contracting Inc. has been cited for eight safety violations since 2010. One was marked in the records as “deleted.”

Among the seven others, five were classified as serious. Four of the violations were related to improperly protecting employees from falling, records show. The company was also fined $1,700 for a ladder violation in 2013, and $1,000 for not properly training employees to prevent falls in 2017.

In all, the company was fined nearly $39,000, but the penalties were ultimately reduced to $13,100, records show.

Marc Bianco, chief operating officer for United Alliance Services Corporation, a workplace safety consulting firm, said Corolla Contracting Inc.’s track record of OSHA violations raises a red flag.

The frequency of violations indicated that the company was on OSHA’s radar and as a result may have been more likely to be visited by inspectors, he said. The tally does not include violations the company may face from Thursday’s incident.

Bianco said many companies would rather pay fines than improve their safety measures.

“The fines and penalties that OSHA imposes on these contractors is often not enough to get these companies to move off center,” Bianco said. “It’s often cheaper to play catch me if you can.”

Why is fall protection important?

Fall Protection remains at the top of OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations list.

According to the OSHA website, falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes in the floor and walls.

Preventing Falls

As noted in our recent blog post – Local Company Fined by OSHA for $1.7 million Due To Violations – there are many options for ensuring safe worksites.  Project managers can redesign the methods they choose by employing aerial lifts, work platforms and manlifts for safer access.  Some roof work configurations allow for the use of temporary guard railings, nets or even controlled roofing zones, and positioning devices.  If these are not viable options, managers can look at personal fall arrest equipment that doesn’t prevent the fall but helps prevent a deadly landing.

If scaffolds are erected to limit the fall height, there must be a safe way to make the transition.  Ladders are not allowed to be set up on a scaffold for reaching a higher level unless it is tightly secured against moving in any direction. Employees cannot be allowed to jump or climb over two feet difference of elevation, so use anchored steps or ladder.  If possible, choose a ramp but it also must be securely anchored.

Whatever method managers choose, they must effectively train and designate on-site competent persons to do regular inspections and make corrections to problems before it becomes a hazard to someone.

When following EM-385 fall protection regulations, employers must not only designate a competent person for fall protection, but also a Fall Protection Program manager, a Qualified Person as well as a Competent Rescuer, Authorized Rescuer and the End User.  There are training and retraining requirements as well as roles and responsibilities like inspections that must be adhered to under Section 21 of EM-385.

Do you need to train your Fall Protection Competent and/or Qualified Persons?  Do you know how to choose the best method to protect your employees?

See our course selection to learn more:

 

roofers-min

Local Company Fined by OSHA for $1.7 million Due To Violations

Safety Indictment

How important is it to your construction company to get on a rooftop without considering fall protection?  Is it worth lawsuits for the business owner?  Is it worth over $1.7 million in violations?  How about manslaughter and/or workplace manslaughter charges?

With proper training, most falls can be prevented and when the heights are high, so are the stakes!  If someone falls, businesses could be in jeopardy because of stiff OSHA fines and penalties, risks to your company’s reputation, and legal charges filed for the business owner if there are repeated violations of OSHA regulations.

In Portland, Maine, just before Christmas 2018, a roofer at Purvis Home Improvement Company didn’t come home to his family because he fell while climbing down from the roof onto a ladder jack scaffolding plank. He lost his life that morning as he landed on the ground without wearing any fall protection. One can only imagine how devastated his family must be, and the effects to his coworkers.

Insurance may help the family cope with the loss of his income, but can never replace this loss of life. Workers Compensation may help pay for costs, but the loss to the business is largely uninsurable. OSHA fines are not able to be insured against.  The loss of reputation in the community may be difficult to overcome.

OSHA had previously issued violations to Purvis Home Improvement Company, including a repeat violation in 2015 (risking 3 people) and again in 2018 (risking 6 people) not using fall protection.  The company’s owner, Shawn D. Purvis is now facing a manslaughter indictment as well as OSHA penalties of $1,792,726.  Purvis is appealing.

The previous violations constituted a notice showing that Purvis knew about the fall from heights hazard and either didn’t make the corrections, or didn’t maintain them. Either way, when there is a risk of falling from heights that could kill, employers must insist that employees and subcontractor employees utilize appropriate fall protection.  In Construction, the OSHA trigger height is 6 feet while in Shipyards the height is 5 feet.   For other industries (general industry), the trigger height is 4 feet.  The trigger height for contractors following the Army Corps of Engineers’ EM-385-1-1 standard is 6 feet.

In this tragedy, the fall was reported to have occurred at the transition between the roof and a scaffold plank.  It is unclear how the individual was climbing down, but he was transitioning to a ladder jack scaffolding plank when he lost his footing and fell 20 feet.

Having been indicted by a grand jury, Mr. Purvis faces Manslaughter charges associated with employment management where he intentionally or knowingly violated an occupations safety or health standard of the state or federal government, which is a crime in the State of Maine.  If convicted under the workplace manslaughter statute, he could face up to $20,000 in fines and/or up to 30 years of imprisonment.

Preventing Falls

There are many options for protecting your employees from deadly falls.  Project managers can redesign the methods they choose by employing aerial lifts, work platforms and manlifts for safer access.  Some roof work configurations allow for the use of temporary guard railings, nets or even controlled roofing zones, and positioning devices.  If these are not viable options, managers can look at personal fall arrest equipment that doesn’t prevent the fall, but helps prevent a deadly landing.

If scaffolds are erected to limit the fall height, there must be a safe way to make the transition.  Ladders are not allowed to be set up on a scaffold for reaching a higher level unless it is tightly secured against moving in any direction. Employees cannot be allowed to jump or climb over two feet difference of elevation, so use anchored steps or ladder.  If possible, choose a ramp but it also must be securely anchored.

Whatever method managers choose, they must effectively train and designate on-site competent persons to do regular inspections and make corrections to problems before it becomes a hazard to someone.

When following EM-385 fall protection regulations, employers must not only designate a competent person for fall protection, but also a Fall Protection Program manager, a Qualified Person as well as a Competent Rescuer, Authorized Rescuer and the End User.  There are training and retraining requirements as well as roles and responsibilities like inspections that must be adhered to under Section 21 of EM-385.

Do you need to train your Fall Protection Competent and/or Qualified Persons?  Do you know how to choose the best method to protect your employees?

References:

www.OSHA.gov

www.courts.maine.gov

www.publications.usace.army.mil

active shooter

How to Prepare for an Active Shooter Incident

The FBI website states there have been 250 active shooter incidents in the United States from 2000 to 2017 with 2,217 casualties.

While you may feel this couldn’t happen at your workplace, you may be wrong. The data also shows that 42 percent of these incidents took place in a business setting.

In our recent blog post Complete Your Safety Manual by Including an Active Shooter Program, we discussed how active shooters are difficult to profile because it’s usually an irrational, random target. Profilers share that active shooters tend to focus on “soft targets”, which includes crowded open spaces and a lack of security. This makes construction sites, lumber yards, and the likes a bit more of a potential target. We also stressed the importance of putting employee assistance programs in place in the event of an active shooter event.

Though there are steps to include to help alleviate the physical and mental pain if this type of event ever occurs, the real question is what your business can do to prepare for an active shooter event.

According to the American Society of Safety Professionals, there are five key areas you can focus on to better protect your work site and employees from workplace violence.

1. Assess Your Risks

The first step to protecting your site and employees is understanding your vulnerabilities. Much like a regular workplace risk assessment, an active shooter/armed assailant risk analysis is an invaluable tool in determining what gaps currently exist and how those can be mitigated moving forward.

2. Safeguard Your Facility

Assessing your risks and vulnerabilities provides a better understanding of what it will take to make your facility more secure.

3. Train Your Staff

To ensure that a plan is deployed effectively, everyone needs to understand their roles and responsibilities. Conducting training exercises helps employees think about what they would need to do in an active shooter/armed assailant situation and familiarizes them with the procedures in place to help protect their safety. 

4. Coordinate With Responding Agencies

Invite local police, fire departments and first responders to your site can help you build relationships with those agencies and help them become familiar with your facility.

5. Handle Post-Incident Issues

Ensure your employees get the attention they need, including any counseling to help them cope with what they’ve experienced.

Need to train your staff? Check out our upcoming Events

Hazwoper  Course

Our Hazcomm/Hazwoper courses have met the RI Department Of Health approval for Continuing education credits

What is HAZWOPER?

OSHA issued the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standards, 29 CFR 1910.120 and 29 CFR 1926.65 (54 Federal Register 9294-9336, March 6, 1989), to protect workers and enable them to handle hazardous substances safely and effectively. The HAZWOPER standard for the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.65) is identical to 29 CFR 1910.120. For brevity, the HAZWOPER standard is referenced as 29 CFR 1910.120 throughout the remainder of this web page.

The HAZWOPER standard covers employers performing the following general categories of work operations:

  • Hazardous waste site cleanup operations [paragraphs (b) – (o)];
  • Operations involving hazardous waste that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facilities [paragraph (p)]; and
  • Emergency response operations involving hazardous substance releases [paragraph (q)].

The HAZWOPER standard provides employers, emergency response workers, and other workers potentially exposed to hazardous substances information and training criteria to improve workplace safety and health and reduce workplace injuries and illnesses that could occur from exposures to hazardous substances. It is critical that employers and their workers understand the scope and application of HAZWOPER, and can determine which sections apply to their specific work operations.

Per the OSHA website – the HAZWOPER standard covers five distinct categories of work operations:

  1. Cleanup operations required by a governmental body involving hazardous substances conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;
  2. Corrective actions involving cleanup operations at RCRA-covered sites;
  3. Operations involving hazardous wastes at TSD facilities;
  4. Operations that generate hazardous waste but are not TSD facilities; and
  5. Emergency response operations involving releases of hazardous substances.

The Global Harmonized System (GHS) is an International approach to hazard communication. It is based on major existing systems around the world, including OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HazComm) and the chemical classification and labeling systems of other US agencies. This training program explains how to comply with the GHS changes and compliance requirements under the 2012 OSHA’s Hazardous Communication standard.

This program is aimed at the worker or handler of hazardous chemicals and provides the participants with general awareness training under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200. Each participant will leave the classroom with a general awareness of the GHS and how to apply it in their workplace.

Within the program, the instructor will review OSHA’s 2012 HazComm standard and highlight the changes applicable under the new GHS standard.

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to describe the key elements of OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard revisions.

We offer several courses to assist you in obtaining the necessary training to meet OSHA requirements.

  • 24-Hour HAZWOPER Training Course (3 Days)
    OSHA 29CFR 1910.120, the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard states that 24-hours of HAZWOPER training is the minimum requirement for those employees whose job does not require them to handle waste or hazardous materials as part of their job. However, if they are required to respond to such incidents as uncontrolled releases or the potential of uncontrolled releases, they must respond as first responders to control and possibly perform cleanup operations. This 24-hour class is not designed to be as in-depth as the 40-hour HAZWOPER course.
    Sign up now

  • 40 Hour HAZWOPER (5 Days)
    Employees who have duties requiring them to respond to uncontrolled releases as First Responders at the Operations level, Hazardous Materials Technicians, Hazardous Materials Specialists, and On-Scene Incident Commanders and employees who are expected to handle or clean up hazardous materials or waste should take the 40-hour HAZWOPER course. This course requires participants to don and doff chemically resistant clothing and participate in response activities. Individuals with medical restrictions should not take this course.
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  • HAZWOPER Refresher FRA/FRO/HMT (8 Hours)
    Anyone who has taken the 40-hour HAZWOPER course is required to maintain their certification by taking an 8-Hour annual refresher course. This course satisfies this requirement. Students who successfully complete this course will receive a certificate of completion from UASC. Those employees who require Hazard Communication Training may join the class for the first 2-hours. The first 4-hours will satisfy requirements for FRO, and completion of the 8-hour course will satisfy requirements for HMT.
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Worker using fall protection gear as a safety precaution he learned in em 385 training

Does your company have a culture that elevates safety to a world-class level?

If so, then you should apply to be one of America’s Safest Companies.

EHSToday.com recently announced that the application process for selection as the 2019 America’s Safest Companies, an honor bestowed on more than 200 companies since 2002, has begun. The application process is open from May 1 through July 15, 2019

According to their website:

“To be considered one of America’s Safest Companies, organizations must demonstrate: support from leadership and management for EHS efforts; employee involvement in the EHS process; innovative solutions to safety challenges; injury and illness rates lower than the average for their industries; comprehensive training programs; evidence that prevention of incidents is the cornerstone of the safety process; good communication about the value of safety; and a way to substantiate the benefits of the safety process.”

Winners will be expected to attend the America’s Safest Companies Awards Night Out, held Nov. 6, 2019 at the Safety Leadership Conference in Dallas.

If you’re interested in applying – we can help.

We provide OSHA and workplace environmental health and safety consulting services for businesses and industries throughout the New England region.

Our senior consultants and instructional staff are qualified and experienced in creating occupational safety and health management solutions, specifically tailored to the needs of private and public sector workforces.

Contact us today to learn how we can assist you with the application process.