Monday, February 16, 2009

Jargon on the Job: A Potential Safety Barrie

Jargon on the Job: A Potential Safety Barrier
By Lucy Perry, Publisher's Perspective, Lift and

February 10, 2009 – Purdue University researchers have found that specialized language used in safety training for construction workers may not be understood by newbies or non-English-speaking workers. It’s a situation that could put these workers in danger. The studies looked at mandatory 10-hour OSHA training, where words such as “PTO,” “bird caging,” “lockout/tagout,” and “lanyard,” are commonly used. I was interested in learning about the safety challenges presented by jargon used in training and on the job.

First the study looked at safety training issues for employees new to construction, examining the causes behind the high number of work-related deaths and injuries in construction. Previous studies indicated they are more likely to occur at the beginning of a construction worker’s career. The team conducted surveys with construction industry student interns before OSHA training, after training and before working on a construction site, and after working at their first internship. Results indicated the training is successful in creating awareness of safety issues, but many interns, mostly college construction engineering management students, didn’t understand terminology and acronyms presented. Yet safety instructors believed students understood the meanings of unfamiliar words before working on the construction site.

The second study looked specifically at Hispanic construction workers in Louisiana who were helping to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The survey looked at this sector because it was prone to a high number of fatalities. They studied Hispanics’ perceptions of safety, their levels of safety training, and their familiarity with construction terms. The study offered the same list of words as in the student study and found that less than 20 percent of Hispanic workers understood any of the terms used in OSHA training, and some terms were understood by only 3 percent.

“Safety trainers must cover a lot of material in a short amount of time and, therefore, use a lot of jargon and acronyms,” the Purdue researchers reported. “These terms are familiar to them and those in the industry, but this lingo isn’t understood by everyone on the construction site. Not understanding any part of it puts workers at risk.”

Curious as to how critical an issue this really is, I turned to the American Society of Safety Engineers, which is working on the issue of literacy among workers. ASSE has found that workers who may be considered illiterate in English may also have never learned to read or write in their native language.

“This is an issue our members have been addressing for years, especially our Latino safety professionals group,” emailed an ASSE public relations staffer. Dwight Henson, an instructor for Industrial Training International, says he runs into two barriers to successful crane training: the individual who has not adequately learned to read and write, and the individual who cannot read and write in the language used in the workplace. “It’s not possible for an individual to safely operate a crane when he or she cannot read a load chart or the many pages of notes that crane manufacturers require operators to use,” says Henson.

Yet safety trainer Jeff York of Signal-Rite says in doing signalperson and rigger training, his staff has found that if Spanish-speaking students are taught how to deliver the signal, they can do just as well as English-speaking workers.

The researchers make a good point when they suggest that visuals—illustrating construction-specific words—would improve understanding. “We shouldn’t eliminate the acronyms and jargon from the training because these are terms workers will need to know, but what we can do is associate visual elements with these words so they are familiar with the terms and what they mean,” researchers said.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fact Sheet No. 2: Hoists, Cranes and Pullers – Safety & Warning Labels and Test Certification

This is the second in a series of Fact Sheets developed by the Crane, Hoist and Monorail Alliance concerning safe application and operation of overhead material handling equipment.

Why are Safety & Warning Labels and Load Test Certification important?

Hoist, crane and puller equipment have specific application instructions. Operators and inspectors need to know how to safely apply each device and they need to understand their limitations.

What safety and warning information should be considered when purchasing, installing or using Hoists, Cranes and Pullers?

Some of the items that should be noted when purchasing, installing or using Hoists, Cranes and Pullers are:
1) Load test certification
2) Rated capacity clearly marked on the product
3) Specific warning information
4) Product model number, serial number and date of manufacture
5) Manufacturer’s name and contact information
6) Manufacturer’s Operations Manual
7) Applicable standards or codes with which the product complies

How can you protect your workers?
You can protect your workers by:
  • Ensuring that all new products purchased comply with all applicable OSHA, National, State and local requirements.
  • Ensure that all operators have been trained for each type of equipment.
  • Use a preventative maintenance and inspection procedure for each type of equipment.
  • Maintain proper inspection and maintenance records.
What do Employees/Operators needs to know?
  • Employees and Operators need to know:
  • Proper equipment operator instructions.
  • Load limits and capacities of each payload.
  • Safe Rigging practices.
  • Operator inspection requirement at the start of each shift.
  • Equipment inspection and maintenance cycle requirements.

Where can I get more information?
Please refer to the Crane, Hoist and Monorail Alliance for additional information. If there is any question as to which standards or requirements apply please contact your local OSHA office.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fact Sheet No. 1: Proper Inspection and Maintenance of Overhead Cranes and Hoists

This is the first in a series of Fact Sheets developed by the Crane, Hoist and Monorail Alliance concerning safe application and operation of overhead material handling equipment.

Why is overhead crane and hoist inspection important?

Crane inspection and maintenance are essential to safe equipment operation. Operator safety can be improved and operator injury can be avoided if the equipment is properly inspected and maintained. In addition, manufacturing productivity can also be improved with scheduled maintenance to maintain proper equipment functionality and to help avert breakdown repairs. Failure to complete overhead crane and hoist inspections and proper equipment maintenance could lead to serious injury, death or destruction of property.

What are the standards for overhead hoist and crane inspection and maintenance?

The standards and reference manuals for the required proper inspection of overhead cranes and hoists are:
  1. Occupational Safety & Health Administration – 29 CFR Part 1910.179 Overhead and Gantry Cranes
  2. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers – B30.2 - 2005 Overhead and Gantry Cranes (Top Running Bridge, Single or Multiple Girder, Top Running Trolley Hoist); B30.16 - 2003 Overhead Hoists (Underhung); B30.17 - 2003 Overhead and Gantry Cranes (Top Running Bridge, Single Girder, Underhung Hoist)
  3. Canadian Standards Association – CAN/CSA B167-96 (R2002) Safety Standard for Maintenance and Inspection of Overhead Cranes, Gantry Cranes, Monorails, Hoists and Trolleys.
  4. Crane Manufacturers Association of America – CMAA Specification 78 - Standards and Guidelines for Professional Services Performed on Overhead Traveling Cranes and Associated Hoisting Equipment
  5. State and local codes.
  6. Manufacturers’ Operations Manual.
These standards and reference manuals outline the frequency of inspection, the items that shall be inspected, who shall conduct the inspection, and how to document the inspection.

How can you protect your workers?

You can protect your workers by:
  • Implementing a written and documented crane and hoist inspection and maintenance program.
  • Training the operator to perform the required pre-shift inspection of the equipment.
  • Training the operator to properly use the equipment.
  • Ensuring that the operator has read the manufacturers’ operation manuals.
  • What do employees/operators needs to know?
  • Proper pre-shift inspection techniques and items to be inspected.
  • Proper use of the equipment.
  • Contents of manufacturers’ operations manual.
  • Lock out/Tag out procedure.
  • How to document the inspections.
  • Who to contact in the event that a product requires service or repair.