The World War II American idiom meant beware of unguarded talk. The same goes for unfounded, or worse, contrived rumors.
Some in the legal and consulting profession are spreading false rumors that somehow our firm is in business with WEXCO International Corporation.That is patently false.
The actual facts are that in late 2018 our corporation A T Vardi, Inc. hired a business broker to sell one of our divisions, XL Services. The option to purchase this division was available to whoever was able to meet our selling price and terms. The offer for sale was made both nationally and internationally.
On February 08, 2019, WEXCO International Corporation purchased XL Services in agreement with our selling price and terms.This was a cash transaction.We do not hold any WEXCO International Corporation stocks or any other form of ownership, nor do we have any management duties.
For those XL Services clients who had pre-sale open cases and that insisted we offered, and WEXCO accepted, for us to continue to service those open cases until they conclude.
A T Vardi, Inc. second division, Pacific Injury and Safety Experts, is wholly owned by A T Vardi, Inc. and has no connection whatsoever to WEXCO.In fact, we are often on the opposing sides of personal injury cases and competitors in this field.
Some in the legal and consulting profession are spreading false rumors because they want to hurt our business. Some simply buy into the rumors without checking the facts. Whatever the case, we are here to continue to serve our clients and will continue to do so as we have been doing for nearly three decades.
If you have any questions regarding the above please feel free to contact me directly at (562) 606-2010 and I will gladly answer any question you may have.
There is hardly anyone in the United States and around the world who has not heard of the acronym PPE. PPE is short for Personal Protection Equipment.
In the age of COVID-19 we all know the importance of face covering, or masks and face shields. We are also encourage to use gloves, hand sanitizers, along with regular hand washing.
The shortage of PPE was a common news headline at the beginning of this pandemic especially affecting first responders and health workers. Thankfully the shortages lessen as production of these items ramped up in every corner of the globe.
When this pandemic is finally behind us the masks and gloves may not be our first day to day priority but PPE’s will continue to make a difference between life and death for many occupations and such as construction, commercial, and industrial industries.
Safety and PPE are synonymous. One does not exist without the other. Head, hand, eye and foot protection are the basic four criteria for protecting the construction worker and others in industries where physical injury is a concern.
Personal protective clothing and equipment are to be designed with safety in mind.They are to consider the work to be performed and must be kept maintained in good condition, sanitary, and without defects. PPE must meet NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and/or ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards. Those recommended standards have been incorporated by statute into the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rules and regulations.
As of the date of this writing we see some of the four basic PPE regulations:
A) Eye and Face Protection – ANSI Z87.1-1989 – Our faces have some of the most delicate parts of our body, especially the eyes. A nose can be repaired, teeth can be replaced with implants but currently medicine does not have the technology to give our site back once it is lost.
Eye and face protection must be suitable for the type of work being done. There are four basic eye and face protection gear as follows:
Single Lens Goggles – Vinyl framed goggles of soft pliable body are designed to provide adequate eye protection from a variety of hazards. The goggles are generally averrable with clear or tinted lenses, perforated, port vented, or non-vented frames.Single lens goggles proved similar protection to spectacles and may be worn in combination with spectacles or corrective lenses.
Welders/Chippers Goggles – They are available in rigid and soft frames to accommodate single or two eyepiece lenses. Welders goggles provide protection from sparking, scaling, or splashing metals and harmful light rays. Lenses are impact resistant and are averrable in graduated shades of filtration. Chippers/Grinders goggles provide eye protection from flying particles. The dual protective eye cups house impact resistant clear lenses with individual cover plats.
Face Shields – Generally face shields consist of an adjustable headgear and face shield of clear or tinted acetate or polycarbonate materials, or wire screen. They are can be ordered in various sizes, tensile strength, impact and heat resistance and light ray filtering capability. Face shields will be used in operation when the entire face needs protection and should be worn to protect the entire face against flying particles, metal sparks, and chemical/biological splash.It is important to note that the type of face shield currently seen on television, internet advertisers, and other media for COVID-19 face protection should not be used for any other purpose. Meaning, they are not designed for protection from flying particles generated by construction, commercial, and industrial operations.
Welding Shields – The welding shield is generally manufactured from vulcanized fiber or glass finer body, a ratchet/button type adjustable headgear or cap attachment and a filter and cover plate holder. The shield is designed to protect the welder’s eyes and face from infrared or radiant light burns, flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips which are byproducts of welding, brazing, soldering, resistance welding, bare or shielded electrical arc welding and oxyacetylene welding and cutting.
Many of the eye protection equipment can be designed with corrective lenses built in. However, keep in mind that it is generally less expensive to replace a damage goggle or shield with standard lenses versus ones that require a doctor’s prescription.
B)Head Protection – ANSI Z89.1-1986 – The basic principal of head protection is to reduce the possibility of an injury due to falling, or flying objects, and bumping the head against a fixed or moving object. The head protection, often referred to as the hard hat, need to be designed such as the shell of the protective hat is hard enough to resist the blow and the headband and crown straps keep the shell away from the wearer’s skull. Such hats when property chosen can also protect against electrical shock.
There are five basic categories of head protection as follows:
Type I hard hats are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting form a blow only to the top of the head
Type II hard hats are intended to reduce the force of lateral impact resulting from a blow which may be received off-center, from the side, or to the top of the head.
Class E (Electrical) hard hats are designed to reduce exposure to high voltage conductors and offer dielectric protection up to 20,000 volts (phase to ground). This is for head protection only
Class G (General) hard hats are designed to reduce exposure to low voltage conductors and offer dielectric protection up to 2,200 volts (phase to ground). This is for head protection only
Class C (Conductive) hard hats differ from their counterparts in that they are not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors and may include vented options.
C)Foot Protection – ANSI Z41.1-1991- Safety shoes are to be worn in the shops, warehouses, maintenance, cage wash, glassware, and construction sites. Safety shoes or boots with impact protection are required to be worn in work areas where carrying or handling materials such as packages, objects, parts or heavy tools, which could be dropped. Also, for other activities where objects might fall onto the feet. They are also to be worn where skid trucks, manual or power pallet jacks or other such material handling equipment where such equipment has a potential of rolling over the operator’s feet.They also protect against penetration of the shoe or boot sole from penetrations by sharp objects.
D)Hand Protection: There are no current ANSI standards for gloves, however, selection must be based on the performance characteristics of the glove in relation to the tasks to be performed such as:
Natural Rubber – Used against alcohol, dilute water solutions and fair against aldehydes and ketones.Disadvantages: Poor vs. oils, greases, organics. If imported may be of poor quality.
Natural Rubber Blends –Used against same as Rubber. Disadvantages: Physical properties frequently inferior to natural rubber.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – Used against Strong acids and bases, salts, other water solutions, and alcohol. Disadvantages: Plasticizers can be stripped.If imported may be of poor quality.
Neoprene – Used against Oxidizing acids, anilines, phenol, glycol ethers.
Nitrile – Used against Oils, greases, aliphatic chemicals, xylene, perchloroethane. Fair against toluene. Disadvantages: Poor vs. benzene, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, and many ketones.
Butyl –Used against Glycol ethers, ketones, and esters. Disadvantages: Expensive and poor vas hydrocarbons, and chlorinated solvents.
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) – Used against Aliphatics, aromatics, chlorinated solvents, ketones (except acetone), esters, and ethers. Disadvantages: Very expensive, water sensitive, poor against light alcohols.
Fluro-elasomer (Viton)™ (Trademark of DuPont Dow Elastomers) – Used against Hazmat work and has excellent chemical resistance. Disadvantages: Poor fit, easily punctures, poor grip, and stiff.
As can be seen above glove selection can be somewhat complex. There are 97 common chemicals that are generally used in various construction, commercial, and industrial settings. In addition, there are a variety of other industries such a medical and cosmetics which have their own unique hazards to consider when choosing hand protections.
The above discussed items are only the basic four and there are certainly more PPE’s to consider such as fall protection when discussing specific operations.
Humans are delicate forms of nature. We have sensitive skin, eyes, face, arms, legs, feet, and body. Personal protective equipment does not guarantee that all injuries can be eliminated but we can reduce the risk of an injury and death by using these widely available basic protective equipment.
News 4 Nashville reported that a construction worker died Tuesday, June 23, 2020 afternoon after falling from scaffolding at a work site. According to Metro Police the construction worker was identified as 16 year old Gustavo Enrique Ramirez from Springfield, Tennessee.
TOSHA’s safety and health standards are written to protect all employees regardless of age. There is no rule or standard that establishes more stringent requirements for minors.
The Department’s Labor Standards Unit has opened an investigation into this incident. 16 year olds are permitted to work. While construction in general is not a prohibited occupation, certain jobs on a construction site may be prohibited, and the state will determine the circumstances of this case during its investigation.
We further understand that Metro Police say the 16 year old victim and his 18-year-old brother were on the scaffolding together. The brother reported that he had his back to Mr. Ramirez, heard a sound, then turned around to see his brother fall. The scaffolding was reported to be approximately 120 feet from the ground equal to a fall from a 12 story building. Metro Police said Mr. Ramirez was a part-time employee at Cortez Plastering. The project is a new hotel.
It was further reported by the news media that Metro detectives did not find a safety harness on Ramirez or on the scaffolding a device which may have saved this young man’s life.
This tragedy underscores the high risk and dangers facing construction site workers. Even more so the question should be asked why was a 16 year old regardless of gender conducting this dangerous work. Is it sufficient to be physically fit, or do we need as a society to implement minimum age limits for high risk work?
There is much we do not know about this case including safety training especially in the use of fall protection devices. Was Mr. Ramirez afforded such training? If he was, why was a harness not used? Was there a failure in the proper installation of scaffold guardrails?
This story does not have a happy ending because a young life was cut sort before it had a chance to even start. Hopefully lessons can be learned.
There are times when something can be perfectly legal but not necessarily smart. Recently the author observed the construction of a new steel framed building where large steel girders,beams and posts were being welded at various joints.What caught my attention was thesuspended scaffold being used by the welders to reach both the interior and exterior sides of the weld joints.
Suspended scaffolding has been used for centuries. They are common place for many applications including window washing, painting, masonry and quality inspections. They can accommodate several workers or a single worker on a boatswains’ chair.OSHA Section No.1926.451 states the following: “A suspension scaffold contains one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid means from an overhead structure, 29 CFR 1926.450(b), such as the following scaffolds: single-point, multi-point, multi-level, two-point, adjustable, boatswain’s chair, catenary, chimney hoist, continuous run, elevator false car, go-devils, interior hung, masons’, and stone setters’.”
Generally the use of suspended scaffolding is safe when properly rigged and inspected. As with any temporary piece of equipment the suspended scaffold should be used only when it is safe to do so. That means that such a mechanism should not be used during high winds, rain, and lightning storms.
Photo #2 -Welder Working Above Suspended Scaffold Near Support Ropes
When comparing the regulations to the suspended scaffolding observed at the above construction site we do not see any specific violations but does that make it smart?Specifically, when welders are welding right next to suspended scaffolding supported by ropes? Clearly, as we see in the Photo #2 sparks from the arc are in close proximity to the uncovered ropes.Even where the ropes are covered by what appears to be flame retardant blankets as seen in Photo #3, portions of the ropes are exposed and can be damaged by an errant welding spark.
Photo #3 – Suspended Scaffold With Flame Retardant Blankets Protecting The Rope Supports
What is considered to be legal is not always safe.There are too many examples to discuss in a single article. The hope is that common sense will prevail in addition to rules and regulations. In a study booklet for the California firearms safety certificate course it notes that the use of the safety on a firearm should be used but not relied upon. The same can be said about the OSHA safety rules. They should be referred to, respected, followed and carefully considered to make sure that individual work sites address their specific safety needs.
When it comes to the use of a suspended scaffold for welding it would be highly advisable to consider non flammable materials such as the one used by the attached scaffold seen in Photo #4.
Photo #4 – Welder Using Attached Scaffolding
The scaffold is securely attached to the steel frame, guardrails provide additional fall protection, and the welding mechanic is using proper personal fall protection attached to the wire railing with a safety lanyard.That setup is both legal and smart.
The fine line between regulations, safety, and being smart can merge creating the best possible working conditions.
We see them every day as we travel the roads and highways of our cities, counties, and interstate highways – “Slow Down Men At Work” signs.Politically incorrect, as there are many women also working on highway projects, but the message is clear, construction work is ahead. You, the driver, need to pay attention and approach with caution.
According to her online article recently published by the Asphalt Contractor Magazine dated, June 3, 2020, Jessica Lombardo states “Work zone crashes are on the rise in 2020, causing worker injuries and deaths.”It should not be a surprise to anyone that these incidents are increasingly more frequent.With the advent of the smartphones capability to transmit text messaging and emails, there are many more distractions to drivers than before when we only had the flip phone capable of only calling and receiving calls or before that with only car radios, conversations with passengers, and remarkable sightings along the road.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index, noted that “83 percent of motorists rated texting while driving and 58 percent rated cell phone use very serious threats to their safety, yet many admitted performing these distracting behaviors while driving within the previous month.Further, 88 percent of respondents said that distracted drivers were somewhat or a much bigger problem today than they were just three years ago.”Additionally, the Foundation’s analysis of data from a 2006 study conducted by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute revealed that “taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of a crash.”
Construction safety is not limited to the job site alone. There are various external sources that can alter the construction site’s working environment leading to dangerous conditions. Such external sources include air pollution, utility malfunctions, and distracted drivers.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2003-20017 1,844 workers lost their lives at road construction sites. Over that 15 year period, the State of Texas ranked #1 with 218 killed, #2 Florida with 132 deaths, #3 Pennsylvania with 91 casualties, #4 Illinois with 83, #5 California with 76, and #6 Tennessee with 70 killed.
So from a safety engineering perspective what are the solutions to safeguard roadway workers?The exact data is not available but many workers prefer to have peace officers on-site during construction operations.The blue and red light bars on top of police or highway patrol cars certainly cause drivers to pay attention and perhaps even slow down.In some states such as in California, you may see Highway Patrol cruisers follow the cleaning crews as they clean the roadways and emergency lanes. However, having such peace officer presence is not practical or economical at all roadway construction sites, especially those that extend for weeks, months, and even years.
A myriad of safety devices have been developed and are deployed, often in combination, to safeguard roadway construction sites and personnel including K rails, traffic cones, traffic delineators, electronic signboards, barricades, trucks with collision absorption tailgates, collision absorption barrels, and others such devices. Roadway construction workers rely upon those devices to protect and alert others to the worksite but they are not always enough.
Dangerous behavior including the distracted driver, the driver under the influence, the driver whose visibility is reduced due to environmental conditions, the new driver who lacks driving experience, the driver who has lost control over his/her vehicle is, and likely will always be, the main cause of
“struck-by” hazards and injuries to roadway construction workers. Can more robust safety mechanisms be put in place? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published document No. 2001-128 titled “Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries From Vehicles and Equipment.” In this article DHHS (NIOSH) lays out 15 categories to consider for injury prevention measures including work zone layout, use of temporary traffic control devices, motorist education and speed enforcement, flaggers, high-visibility apparel, illumination of the work zone, developing internal traffic control plans, implementing internal traffic control plans, accountability and coordination at the worksite, equipment operation and maintenance, safe equipment operation around workers on foot, training and certification, changes in the contracting process, laboratory and field research needs, and data and record keeping.
Most importantly, as with any construction-related safety procedure, safety engineering preparation for all road construction worksites must include consideration of the particular and peculiar features of each site and each construction project. Safety procedures are not uniform except for the twin needs to follow them once the procedures are known and to continue to look for better ways to reduce the high risks of roadway construction.