Why Does Fall Protection Count?

August 28, 2019 in Cal/OSHA, Fall Protection, Falls, Hazard, Injury, OSHA, Roof, Safety, Slips

In a perfect scenario as illustrated in the attached photos we see a roofer standing at the edge of a parapet.  The roofer has no fall protection of any kind.  Give the roofer credit for wearing protective clothing necessary as a means to protect his body while applying a coating over a spray foam roof, but that protective suite will not stop him from falling.

The distance from the top of the parapet to the ground is approximately seventeen (17) feet.  The ground below is a hard surface which would be unforgiving to a falling human body.

A slight slip of either feet. A tangling of the boots in the protective covering. A sudden distraction. A sudden gust of wind. All of these situations can cause the roofer to loose his balance and fall to the ground below.

Beyond any OSHA requirement, and the obvious serious injury or even fatality which would result in the roofer falling to the ground below, the shock and grief that will affect to his fellow roofers, family, and friends is beyond measure.

It is for all the right reasons, and logical conclusion, that fall protection is a necessary safety measure. The code allows a number of ways to protect the roofer or anyone else working above ground.  Simple steps can reduce the risk of injury and prevent long term disability and even death.

When Fall Protection Means Saving A Life

Dangerous Behavior

August 13, 2019 in Cal/OSHA, Fall Protection, Falls, Hazard, Injury, OSHA, Safety

It goes without saying that standing in the bucket of an excavator to hang a sign is not a good or safe idea. Such behavior is not only unsafe but also violates California General Industry Safety Orders, §3657 – Elevating Employees with Lift Trucks (Fed OSHA §1910.67). 

According to the United States Department of Labor OSHA (osha.gov) “Many workers are injured or killed on aerial lifts each year”. Currently an aerial lift is described as one of the following:

  • Extendable boom platforms,
  • Aerial Ladders,
  • Articulating (joined) boom platforms,
  • Vertical towers, and
  • Combination of the above

The bucket of any excavator does not fit the definition of an aerial lift.

According to OSHA (osha.gov) even if someone properly uses an aerial lift the hazards for using such equipment may include: 

  • Fall from elevated level,
  • Objects falling from lifts,
  • Tip-overs
  • Ejections from the lift platform,
  • Structural failures (collapses)
  • Electric shock (electrocutions),
  • Entanglement hazards,
  • Contact with objects, and
  • Contact with ceilings and other overhead objects

As illustrated in the photo below the gentleman is hanging a warning sign while standing inside the bucket of an excavator. How ironic that someone is hanging a warnign sign considering the unsafe behavior being exhibited.  

You Should Never Do This

In the instance of hanging a warning sign a safe practice would be to use a properly designed ladder supported by solid footing.  Solid footing in this case would have been a smooth, level, and solid ground.

Solar Panel Installer Falls Through A Skylight

January 25, 2019 in Cal/OSHA, Falls, OSHA, Personal Protection Equipment, Safety, Skylight

Fontana, CA – An investigation of an industrial accident took place on June 14, 2016 concerning an employee who on June 13, 2016 sustained serious injuries after falling to the ground through an unguarded skylight while engaged in solar panel installation. The employee was not protected by use of guardrails, personal fall protection system, cover, screens, nets or any other methods

Cal/OSHA issued five citations to an electric contractor after a 29-year-old solar panel installer fell 29 feet through a skylight, suffering extremely serious injuries. The citations included a willful serious violation of Section 3212 Floor Openings, Floor Holes, Skylights and Roofs which requires employers use fall protections systems to keep employees safe. In this case, the employer did not provide the protection even though the company charged the building owner for it. There was no evidence of fall protection such as guardrails, personal fall protection system, covers, screens, nets or any other methods anywhere in the building, despite the presence of more than 140 skylights on the roof.

All employers in the State of California who are cited by Cal/OSHA are entitled to an appeal of the citations.

We have extensive experience in the investigation and analysis, including court testimony, concerning falls through skylights.

Cal/Osha Cites An Employer For Injuries To Employee Due To Electrocution At A Construction Site

December 30, 2018 in Cal/OSHA, Electrocution, Hazard, Injury, OSHA, Safety

Rialto, CA – Cal/OSHA Reporting ID: 0950633 stated that on or about May 25, 2018, an Electric Crew Foremen became incapacitated when he contacted energized parts of a 6.9kV transformer causing the employee serious injuries.

The Employer was cited, among others, for failing to ensure that a supervisory employee (Electric Crew Foreman) utilized protective coverings or devices, adequate barriers, or isolation methods while working on exposed underground cables, concentric ground wires, or conductors, including but not limited to, equipment or parts of an energized transformer located within a BURD structure having a working space of less than 36 inches. As a result, an employee while attempting to remove an old ground wire came in contact with an energized section of the transformer with an operating voltage of 6.9kV causing the employee serious injuries.

The citation continues to state that prior to, and during the course of the investigation, including but not limited to May 25, 2018, the Employer failed to ensure that a supervisory Employee (Electric Crew Foreman) utilized hazardous energy control procedures or personnel change to ensure the continuity of lockout or tag-out protection, including but not limited to provisions for the orderly transfer of lockout or tag-out device protection between off-going and on-coming Employees, to minimize their exposure to energized parts of a 6.9kV transformer located in a BURD structure.

It is alleged that the Employer failed to ensure that a supervisory employee (Electric Crew Foreman) eliminated all possible sources of back-feed voltages on a 6.9kV transformer (being back-fed by a generator), by effectively disconnecting or grounding the high voltage side, or disconnecting or short circuiting the low voltage side.

Last, the citation alleges that Employer’s Field Supervisor, and an Operations Supervisor failed to immediately call 911 to ensure prompt medical treatment, resulting in unnecessary delay in treatment to an employee who sustained a serious injury. 

In all Cal/OSHA cases the Employer is entitled to an appeal of the citation.

Cal/Osha Cites Contractor for Fatal Trench Collapse at Residential Construction Site

December 25, 2018 in Cal/OSHA, Collapse, Falls, Hazard, Injury, Safety

Often the general public and some professionals consider trench accidents to only happen on commercial projects. On December 11, 2018 the State of California Department of Industrial Relations published a News Release No.: 2018-100  that concerned a trench accident at a residential project.

Santa Ana—Cal/OSHA has cited a Riverside construction company $66,000 for serious workplace safety violations that resulted in the death of a worker when a 17-foot-deep trench he was in collapsed. Cal/OSHA determined that the construction company did not properly classify the soil and failed to correctly slope the excavation.

On May 9, two Services workers were installing sewer pipes at a Lake Forest residential construction site when a 30-foot-wide section of the trench’s sidewall sloughed and collapsed. Only one of the workers was able to escape.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that the company failed to ensure the site was inspected by someone who was deemed competent by the employer and familiar with trench hazards, soil classification and the appropriate safety requirements. The soil at the worksite was unstable, requiring an adequate protective system.

“Because working in excavations is so dangerous, a competent person must conduct thorough visual and manual tests to properly classify the soil and adequately protect employees from cave-ins,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Failing to carry out these requirements can be fatal.”