Injury By Glass and Building Codes Yesterday and Today

December 8, 2018 in Falls, 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.

Stair Treads and Risers – What Does The Code Say

November 25, 2018 in Falls, Slips Trips and Falls, Stairs, Trips and Falls

Section 1009.3.1 of the International Building Code states that:

Stair treads and risers shall be of uniform size and shape. The tolerance between the largest and smallest riser or between the largest and smallest tread shall not exceed 0.375 inch (9.5 mm) [translated 3/8”] in any flight of stairs.

Exceptions:

  1. Nonuniform riser dimensions of aisle stairs complying with Section 1024.11.2.
  2. Consistently shaped winders, complying with Section 1009.8, differing from rectangular treads in the same stairway flight.

Where the bottom or top riser adjoins a sloping public way, walkway or driveway having an established grade and serving as a landing, the bottom or top riser is permitted to be reduced along the slope to less than 4 inches (102 mm) in height with the variation in height of the bottom or top riser not to exceed one unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (8-percent slope) of stairway width.

The above building and accessibility code is consistent with the current California Building Code Section 1009.7.4

We are building and accessibility code experts who have deposition and court experience testifying on a variety of building code issues.

The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Coefficient of Friction

August 11, 2018 in BOT 3000E, Coefficient of Friction, Slips Trips and Falls

Among non personal injury experts there has been some confusion regarding the difference between Static versus Dynamic coefficient of friction.

Here are the basic differences:

Static coefficient of friction is a test based on the subject slipping from a standing position, i.e. the man or women were standing still, started to move, and slipped.

Dynamic coefficient of friction is based on the subject slipping while in movement, i.e. the man or women were walking, running, etc. and suddenly slipped.

Generally speaking a Dynamic coefficient of friction test is more accurate because most slip and fall accidents occur while the subject was in motion, i.e. walking, running, etc.

Our state of the art field testing equipment, the Regan Scientific BOT 3000E, can do both but in 99% of the time we test Wet Dynamic Coefficient of Friction based on the ANSI A326.3 standards.

IT’S TIME FOR A NATIONAL FLOOR SAFETY, BUILDING, AND FLOOR MAINTENANCE MANDATORY CODE

August 22, 2017 in BOT 3000E, Coefficient of Friction, Falls, Slips, Slips Trips and Falls, Trips and Falls

By: Gidon R. Vardi, Ph.D

According to an article published by CNA Financial Corporation titled “Risk Control Bulletin: Tribometry – A Scientific Approach to Reducing Slip-and-Fall Hazards”, (2016) “over 8 million people are sent to hospital emergency rooms as the result of slip-and-fall accidents (www.cdc.gov)”. Considering the significance of such statistics the governing agencies who are responsible for safety in general and floor safety, specifically, need to address this issue with immediate seriousness.

Currently, not a single jurisdictional building code, OSHA regulation, or any other recognized national governmental agency has issued or endorsed a published standard test method (STM) in conjunction with acceptance threshold values.  Moreover, these organizations seem to have turned a blind eye toward our overseas allies who are light years ahead of us in slip and fall prevention. Unless we can agree on how slip and fall risk is measured, we cannot properly assign preventive or corrective actions.

Most building codes today have a generic language that requires a floor to be “slip resistant”.  This is not enough. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep the majority of humans are constantly traversing some kind of flooring.  From plain dirt to super glossy custom nanoglass, floors are the most widely exposed surfaces that we see, feel, and are exposed to. Yet mandatory building and maintenance codes are silent as to the ever-present danger an unsafe floor covering poses.

For decades various voluntary standards by such domestic organizations as ASTM, ANSI, NFSI, and various international organizations have published their findings and proposed safety limitations. Recently ANSI A326.3 standard was published for measuring the Dynamic Coefficient of Friction.  In fact, this is the only currently recognized published standard in the United States. Regardless of the tireless research that created this standard, it is voluntary.  There is no actual mandatory value for recognizing what is considered to be a slip resistant floor.

In addition to the lack of a mandatory standard, the current status of testing methods are also not regulated. None of the popular tribometers currently being used in the United States including the English XL (based on ASTM F-1679 which expired) and the Brungraber Mark II (based on the ASTM F-1677 which expired) have any published  United States floor safety standards on which their results can be relied upon. The only known tribometer currently manufactured and supported in the United States that can be relied upon to meet the new requirements of the ANSI A326.3 standards is the BOT-3000E, which is a non-proprietary instrument.

DIN 51130

It is time for the International Building Code to take the lead in publishing a mandatory standard for floor safety based upon the requirements of ANSI A326.3.  It is time that we have a law by which all floor safety experts, building owners, maintenance companies, and the courts can rely upon for evaluating how to install and maintain the most used surface we rely upon. This national code needs to be clear not only in what safe values floors must meet but also how to test for those values with the use of field-use tribometric equipment, of which the results are known to be reliable and repeatable, and can correlate to a high degree with well-established laboratory instruments such as the DIN 51130 standard ramp.

Pacific Injury & Safety Experts is dedicated to the cause of making a national floor safety value and test method published in order to eliminate confusion in the floor safety industry.

Consulting is a Team Effort

August 6, 2017 in OSHA

Consulting is a Team Effort

By: Gidon R. Vardi, Ph.D

In the world of consulting we often refer to others for help and advice. For that reason, it is our opinion that knowing where to turn for assistance is as important as any other aspect of topic research.

Within the world of job site safety, it is our responsibility to properly investigate and report our findings. The investigation may include accident reconstruction, safety code research, and court testimony.

But there are two specific aspects of OSHA that we are not involved in and therefore turn to others for assistance.

First, IIPP (injury and illness prevention program) as required by OSHA. The preparation of these manuals is best done by professionals who customize the programs to the individual company needs.

Second, in the aftermath of an OSHA citation, every defendant is allowed to appeal those citations. Whereas we will investigate the OSHA allegations the actual appeal process we refer our clients to the professionals.

Below are helpful links for assistance in obtaining an OSHA IIPP and information regarding OSHA appeals. For injury and safety investigations we are here to assist.

www.oshacitationappeals.com

www.oshaiipp.com