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 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.”

Injury By Glass and Building Codes Yesterday and Today

December 8, 2018 in Falls, Glass, Glass and Gazing, Injury, OSHA

            From time to time we have been called upon to investigate personal injuries due to glass breakage.  These types of accidents can vary from minor to major injuries including fatalities.

            There are various causes for such incidents including people walking into and through glass walls and doors, shattering of glass due to direct strikes by blunt objects, defective glass, failure of glass systems such as shower doors falling off their tracks, and sometimes plain old bad luck.

            Regardless of the cause there are two distinct differences between the incidents, those that involve untempered glass and those that involve tempered glass.

            Without going too deeply into the technical aspects of glass manufacturing the differences between tempered and untempered glass are stark and significant.

            When untempered glass breaks it does so in chunks typically referred to as shards.  Often the shards are broken into triangle shapes resembling knifes. Depending on the cause of the glass breakage the shards can impel, cut, or both any part of a soft tissue, human or animal.

            Tempered glass when broken is designed to shatter into very small pieces of glass. They too can cause injury but are less likely to become life threatening.

            There are circumstances when even tempered glass becomes dangerous.  One such occasion is when glass panes become dislodged from their frames in low and high rise buildings. The glass becomes airborne and transforms into a flying missile. Obviously in such a case it makes no difference whether the glass is tempered or not.

           As of the 1961 Uniform Building Code untempered glass was in wide and legal use. Starting with the 1964 Uniform Building Code we see where mandatory use of tempted glass [and other safety glazing] first becomes law under Section 5406 as follows:

 Glass lights subject to impact hazards and in the following locations shall  comply with Table No. 54-D:

 1. Glass doors and wall panels of bathtub and shower enclosures. For Plastics, see Section 1711 (e).

2. Where bottom of glass light is within eighteen inches (18”) of floor or walking surface.

3. Glass lights of glass panel doors.

            By the time this article was written in December of 2018, the codes and regulations governing the installation of glass become more strict. Under the 2015 International Building Code, which is the cornerstone of most building codes in the United States, Sections 2406.4, 2407, 2408, and 2409 require safety glazing, with minimal exceptions, in all hazardous locations including doors, windows, glass guard railings, wet surfaces, areas adjacent to stairways and ramps, fire department access panels, glazing in athletic facilities, and glazing in walkways, elevator hoist ways, and elevator cars.

            We do not anticipate any reductions in the current building codes and may see even more stringent requirements if future environmental and safety concerns dictate the need to provide even more protection.

            The author has investigated scores of incidents relating to glazing injuries and has qualified in court to testify as an expert in this field.