Thursday, November 03, 2011

How to survive a visit by OSHA

As fines grow and enforcement gets stricter, construction and agriculture businesses are prime targets for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"Nebraska is one of the worst states for fatalities in these two industries, so if you're in construction or ag and you haven't been hit yet by OSHA, you probably will be," Teague Lottman told about 40 people - mostly business owners and managers - during a First State Bank and Trust University session last week.

Lottman, an Inspro Agribusiness agronomy claims specialist and loss control specialist, said he's seen higher fines and more aggressive enforcement efforts from OSHA.

"We've seen that this year big time," he said. "The higher ups have this mentality that if you own a business, all you care about is profit at the cost of your employees' safety, that's how they think. Here in the Midwest we're not like that, but that's the mentality they have. When they come out to your business, that's what we've got to deal with."

Lottman said he makes four or five presentations a year and talks to individual business owners on a weekly basis to help them prepare for and survive OSHA inspections.

"These fines are putting small business out of business," he said. "They want to comply, they don't want their employees to get hurt, but I've had some older contractors that just went ahead and retired because of the fear of OSHA.

"I think most companies do things safely, but they don't document that they do it safely, so they have no proof. That's the big thing; document what you're doing," he said.

OSHA will inspect a business or job site for several reasons, Lottman said, including incidents of catastrophic or fatal accidents, employee complaints, or high hazard industries.

When OSHA determines imminent danger is present, "It's just like the police and probable cause, they have the right to come right on into your place, whether it's a job site or a work place, and they can do a full-blown inspection and there's not a darn thing you can do about it," Lottman said.

Employers, he said, have the right to ask for identification when an OSHA representative shows up.

"You can ask them to wait," he said. "If it's a routine inspection they will usually give you 30 minutes, maybe sometimes an hour, to get in order. But if it's imminent danger, they're going to start immediately."

Employers can insist on a warrant, but Lottman advised against it.

"I guarantee they'll go get one," he said, "and then they'll be back with all their friends and they'll go through your business with a fine-tooth comb."

Employers have the right to advisors or legal counsel, accompanying OSHA during the inspection, and opening and closing conferences to determine what will be inspected and why, and to discuss the results of the inspection.

"Fully exercise your right to walk around with the inspector," he said. "First that shows him that you care about safety and you don't allow anybody just to walk around on your premises. It also gives you a chance to see what he's looking at, write it down, take notes, ask questions."

Having a safety manual is crucial and Lottman suggested including a cell phone usage policy.

OSHA will look for disciplinary plans geared toward unsafe employees, a complaint system where employees can point out concerns and a safety committee.

"In Nebraska, if you have 10 or more employees, you have to have a safety committee," he said. "You've got to meet at least quarterly and you've got to document it."

Lottman said companies should have a team that knows what to do when OSHA shows up. Conducting a mock OSHA inspection is also a good idea, he said.

OSHA will look for proper signage, Material Safety Data Sheets, maintenance records, lockout/tag out procedures, shields and guards and a written fall protection plan.

"If you're at a job site, you're at a disadvantage, because if they pull up to a job site it's because they caught you doing something wrong," he said.

"If you're a subcontractor ... pack up your stuff and leave. If you're the general contractor, remember that you're in charge of the safety of all your subs, so if the sub gets fined there's a chance that you could also get fined," he said.

Sweep augers are a focal point in the ag sector, he said.

"The way the rule states right now ... you cannot be inside a grain bin with the sweep auger running or any moving grain, or it's going to be a willful violation. If there is an employee in there and there's a fatality, whoever sent him in there is going to go to jail and that's all there is to it," Lottman said.

Source: Chris Zavadil, Fremont Tribune

Friday, September 30, 2011

NUCA's Safety Director's Forum

SDF 2010NUCA's Safety Director's Forum (SDF), Oct. 17-18 in Chicago will help utility contractors and create and maintain accident free workplaces and jobsites. Who should attend? Construction safety personnel looking to master the intricacies of the utility construction industry's most fundamental activity - safety; owners and CEO's of utility construction firms; and anyone actively involved in safety in today's utility construction and excavation fields. For details and to resister, click here

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Construction Fatalities Decline by About 10 Percent

The number of construction fatalities declined by nearly 10 percent between 2009 and 2010, and by almost 40 percent during the past five years, according to AGC.

The number of construction fatalities declined by nearly 10 percent between 2009 and 2010, and by almost 40 percent during the past five years, according to an analysis of new federal data prepared by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials pointed to an industry-wide commitment to improving workplace safety as a key reason for the safety improvements.

“This industry has made safety a top priority in good times and bad, and the new data shows those efforts are helping save lives,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But even one fatality is too many, which is why this data also serves as a somber reminder of the work that still needs to be done.”

Sandherr noted that the number of construction fatalities in 2010 was 751, down from 834 in 2009 and 1,239 in 2006. He added that the number of construction fatalities was declining faster than the total amount of money invested in construction projects during the past five years. While construction spending declined by 31 percent between 2006 and 2010, the number of fatalities declined by nearly 40 percent.

The construction industry has taken a range of steps to improve workplace safety during the past two decades, Sandherr said. He said that safety planning is now considered an essential part of all pre-construction plans. Construction workers also undergo rigorous and ongoing safety training both at construction sites and within company training rooms. Many firms also now regularly participate in association-led safety stand-downs, stopping all construction activity during a particular day to hold intense safety training and drills.

The association has also worked to establish a host of safety programs and materials from which construction firms are benefitting. Sandherr cited the work the association has done to train construction workers in fall protection measures in helping cut fall fatalities from 447 in 2007 to 260 in 2010, a 42 percent decline. He added that the association offers a wide range of safety training programs and tools to construction firms across the industry.

Sandherr noted that the association remained committed to working with federal, state and local officials to continue improving workplace safety. “Nobody has a monopoly on improving workplace safety.”

Source: AGC

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

ANSI A92.2 2009 Standard 2 New Requirements!

Here's what I found in the newest ANSI A92.2 2009 Standard- these are key safety requirements for utility bucket trucks and other similar aerial devices.

The Accredited Standard Committee (ASC) A92.2 Subcommittee for Vehicle Mounted Rotating and Elevating Aerial Devices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has issued the long-awaited 2009 edition of the American National Standard for Vehicle Mounted Rotating and Elevated Aerial Devices.

Two new requirements for operator aids are a slope indicator and an outrigger interlock device.

4.5.4 Slope Indicator – An indicator(s) shall be provided that is visible to the operator during setup to show whether the aerial device is positioned within limits permitted by the manufacturer. The allowable limits shall be shown on the unit and in the manual. For units designed for mobile operation such an indicator(s) shall be supplied in the cab.

4.5.5 Outrigger Interlock Device – When an aerial device is equipped with outriggers, and their use is required to pass the stability tests of this standard, an interlock device shall be provided that prevents the boom from being operated from the stowed position until the outriggers have been deployed. Deployment may be sensed when the outriggers meet resistance or by receipt of an indicative response that the outrigger deployment is beyond a predetermined position. The lifting of an outrigger during operation shall not disable boom functions. An interlock override switch may be provided; however, the override mode of operation shall disable automatically.

Note: The operation of outrigger interlocking devices does not assure aerial device stability. It serves only to remind the operator that the outriggers have or have not been deployed. See Section 10.10 (3).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crane History Preserved! Komatsu and Link-Belt join HCEA

Bowling Green, OH -- The Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the construction, dredging and surface mining equipment industries, announced that Komatsu America Corporation, Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company and Turner Construction Company have joined the HCEA as corporate members.

Komatsu America Corporation joined for five years and is headquartered in Chicago. Founded in 1917 (fun fact: same year as Rieker Instrument Co. was established!), Komatsu is the world’s second largest manufacturer and supplier of quality construction, mining and compact construction equipment; along with representing these lines, Komatsu America also serves the forklift and forestry markets.

Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company originated in Chicago in 1906 with the consolidation of two firms established by William Dana Ewart to manufacture his patented detachable link chain. Now headquartered in Lexington, Ky., it has grown from the first Link-Belt crane, produced circa 1890, to become a leader in the design, manufacture and sales of telescopic and lattice boom cranes.

Turner Construction Company of New York is a leading international building and general contractor that was founded in 1902. Its extensive resume of projects includes Madison Square Garden and construction management for the world’s tallest building; the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The National Construction Equipment Museum, operated by the HCEA in Bowling Green, Ohio, has a 1926 Link-Belt K2 crawler crane that has been fully restored by Museum volunteers, as well as several machines from Komatsu’s heritage. Its archives house substantial collections of records from Komatsu, Link-Belt and associated companies. Museum and Archives holdings are preserved and made available for public research and education.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Inclinometer et al: new product to aid in the prevention of Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP)

Inclinometer et al: new product to aid in the prevention of Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP)

Hospital beds are sophisticated critical equipment for the care of those in need. If you are familiar with VAP, you'll appreciate this new medical device that incorporates a tilt sensor for monitoring Head of Bed angle.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Learn the Nitty Gritty on Lift Inspections

Cover Story: Inspection Direction
GenieMaking sure aerial work platforms and telehandlers are reliable and safe depends largely on inspections performed before the key is turned over. Lift and Access interviewed experts to find out what types of inspections are needed and who's responsible for performing them.

Great article, click here to view the entire story...