Floor Safety and Hole Covers

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Did you know that same level slip, trips and falls are the second leading cause of lost time work injuries in the U.S. Sprains and strains are the number one hazards when it comes to floor openings. Employers are required to identify hazards, like floor safety hazards within their job sites and put into plans into place to eliminate the risks.

OSHA defines a hole as a gap or void 2 or more inches in its least dimension in a floor or other walking/working surface. Covers are to be used to address the hazards associated with holes, to prevent tripping in, and stepping into. With that in mind the covers must be:

  1. Capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
  2. The cover must completely cover the opening, be secured in place by (nails, screws, etc) to prevent accidental displacement by wind, equipment or employees.
  3. Covers must be marked with “HOLE” or “ COVER” to provide warning of the hazard. Everyone on the project must be made aware of the presence of all holes in the work areas.
Example of a hole cover that is secured and has been properly marked with the warning word “HOLE”. Also, the edges of the cover have been painted in orange to help with the visibility which brings attention to the area where there is a tripping hazard.

Here are a few easy things you can do to avoid, and help prevent slip, trips, and falls.

  1. Pay attention when walking. Avoid talking, texting on your phone, or carrying materials or plans that restrict your view of the path in front of you.
  2. Practice good housekeeping, and don’t be in a hurry to complete your daily job task.

Bottom line the DANGER is very real. The CONTROLS are very simple. This is a HAZARD that should never be allowed to exist.

Will there be a Silica Update?

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OSHA recently submitted a draft Request for Information to the Office of Management and Budget regarding Table 1 of 1926.1153 (OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Regulation for the Construction Industry). The purpose of the RFI is to determine if revisions to Table 1 are needed and/or appropriate.

If the OMB approves the measure, the RFI could lead to revisions to Table 1 that would identify additional common construction tasks with corresponding dust control methods, which would, in turn, make it easier for construction employers to address employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The OMB generally reviews such documents in 60 days, but they are under no obligation to complete their review or to take action within that time frame. So, while the changes may not be “soon” it is nice to hear that they may be coming.

In the meantime, you should brush up on the regulations as written to ensure you are in compliance:

Basic Ladder Safety

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Ladders are tools.  Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder:

  • If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder.
  • Do not use ladders in high winds or storms.
  • Wear clean slip-resistant shoes.  Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are not considered sufficiently slip resistant.
  • Before using a ladder,inspect it to confirm it is in good working condition. 
    • Ladders with loose or missing parts must be rejected.
    • Rickety ladders that sway or lean to the side must be rejected.
  • The ladder you select must be the right size for the job.
    • The Duty Rating of the ladder must be greater than the total weight of the climber,tools,supplies,and other objects placed upon the ladder. The length of the ladder must be sufficient so that the climber does not have to stand on the top rung or step.
  • When the ladder is set-up for use, it must be placed on firm level ground and without any type of slippery condition present at either the base or top support points.
  • Only one person at a time is permitted on a ladder unless the ladder is specifically designed for more than one climber (such as a Trestle Ladder).
  • Ladders must not be placed in front of closed doors that can open toward the ladder. The door must be blocked open, locked, or guarded.
  • Read the safety information labels on the ladder.
    • The on-product safety information is specific to the particular type of ladder on which it appears. The climber is not considered qualified or adequately trained to use the ladder until familiar with this information.

The Three Point-of-Contact Climb

Factors contributing to falls from ladders include haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user’s age or physical condition, or both, and the user’s footwear.

  • Although the user’s weight or size typically does not increase the likelihood of a fall, improper climbing posture creates user clumsiness and may cause falls. Reduce your chances of falling during the climb by:
    • wearing slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue;
    • cleaning the soles of shoes to maximize traction;
    • using towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to convey materials so that the climbers hands are free when climbing;
    • climbing slowly and deliberately while avoiding sudden movements;
    • never attempting to move a ladder while standing on it;
    • keeping the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails when climbing and while working.  Do not overreach or lean while working so that you don’t fall off the ladder sideways or pull the ladder over sideways while standing on it.

When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize Three Points-of-Contact because it minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from the ladder.  At all times during ascent, descent, and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb.  It is important to note that the climber must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. Otherwise, Three Points-of-Contact with the ladder cannot be adequately maintained and the chance of falling is increased in the event a hand or foot slip occurs. 

Breaking the Barrier of your Comfort Zone

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Most of the time here I share things that are specifically related to safety from the perspective of OSHA compliance or Best Practices. Some times it is about some new industry specific focus that is interesting. But today I want to share about something more personal.

Your health!

There are so many factors that affect your overall health, and it can be very overwhelming if you are just getting started. Depending on who you talk to they will all give you “wonderful” advise about the things that you need to do to get or stay “healthy”.

The short list is:

Each of these steps have a million little steps towards success. And they are all tightly intertwined. Which means, if you are even a little bit like me, you can find yourself heading down a rabbit hole from which there is no recovery.

Baby Steps

My advice? Take baby steps. Find one thing that you can change for the better. And work on that one thing until it is your new normal. Then change the next thing. And then the next.

Yes, this is a much slower way to achieve that end goal. BUT, it is also the much more successful way to achieve that end goal.

Build your Team!

Surround yourself with people that are on the same journey and that will hold you accountable. Accountability is the key here. Your team cannot be made entirely of the people that will jump off the cliff with you because you are having a weak moment. There has to be someone that can be counted on to be the ONE strong person in a situation and that will hold everyone else on the team accountable. And it doesn’t mean that the strong person is the same person every time, but that someone will always step up to that position when needed.

  • “I don’t want to work out this morning”
    • Okay, then you have to work out tonight.
  • “I want to eat a cake…and entire cake.”
    • No, you can eat a slice of cake, but you have to get in an extra hour of exercise this week, or swap in a salad for dinner, or…

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable!

Change doesn’t happen when you are comfortable. Change happens when you try new things. So get comfortable being uncomfortable!

That can mean different things for different people, and you have to find your level of uncomfortable. And then get a little more uncomfortable.

Last September there was special that was being offered for people that wanted to join Camp Gladiator. My sister-in-law had joined them the year before and had been talking about how great it was, but my sister-in-law was also in a much different place than I was… she was thinner, fitter, and healthier. So whenever she would talk about us joining I would laugh and say that I wasn’t ready to die. But something clicked, finally, last September and I decided that it was worth trying for at least one month and then I could say I tried, I could quit and I could go back to my old habits….

But since I decided I was crazy enough to jump off that bridge I was going to take some people with me. I convinced my husband, and my coworker and his wife to all join at the same time. Because we are BETTER TOGETHER! And I knew that I needed someone to hold me accountable.

And after we were all signed up we learned that another of our co-workers was already a CG Camper.

Nine Months later…

We have gotten comfortable being uncomfortable. We don’t work out together, but we all work out and we hold each other accountable for those work outs.

  • “Did you go this morning/last night?”
  • “Did you… do burpees? drag a fire hose? run a mile?
  • “Are you signed up for…?”

Did you say “Uncomfortable”?

So, this past weekend we all participated in the Terrain Race – Austin 2019.

Here is proof:

This is me (Renee Ramthun) and my crazy husband (Chris) that supports me in all my insane adventures and goofball ideas. Seriously, I don’t think there is a clean spot on me anywhere.

Here is Damian Alvarez and his wife Melissa. They raced earlier in the day and somehow they seem to have fared better than we did.

Parting statements…

Don’t worry about how far you have to go, or how long the journey will take. Just take the first step. Go for a walk at lunch instead of sitting at your desk. Skip the bread basket. Sign up for a 5k (you are allowed to walk them, and they don’t have to be muddy).

Stand Down for Fall Prevention – 2019

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Jordan Foster Construction and our subcontractors participated in the National Stand Down for Fall Prevention across the state of Texas last week. 

Jordan Foster Construction partnered with the regional OSHA offices and Vendors to assist in making these events spectacular, in spite of the weather conditions that were encountered in some of our locations. 

We want to take the time to say Thank You to the following people:

  • Alex Porter, Area Director, US DOL OSHA, San Antonio Area Office
  • Abraham Arzola, Compliance Assistance Specialist, US DOL OSHA, El Paso Area Office
  • Jim Shelton, Compliance Assistance Specialist, US DOL OSHA, Houston North Area Office
  • HD Supply – Ben Pratt
  • Border Construction Specialties – James Harrald
  • MSA – BJ Shrader
  • Representatives from Lawless Group of Houston
  • Representatives from Guardian Fall Protection
  • Representatives from SafeWaze
  • Representatives from Hilti Tools

Topics focused on Fall Prevention and Protection, to include ladder safety, proper construction of guardrails, basic Scissor Lift awareness and proper installation and use of a Personal Fall Arrest System.

However, we also took the opportunity to address other safety topics including:

  • Heat Awareness
  • Electrical Safety and
  • Fire Extinguisher Training

Commercial Division – El Paso, TX – Plaza Hotel Renovation & Parking Garage

Our Partnership with OSHA at the Plaza Hotel Renovation and Parking Garage project has been an amazing experience.  Over the last 8 months we have been able to draw on the wonderful resources of our Compliance Assistance Specialist, Abraham Arzola.  Last week was no exception. 

He attends many of our monthly stand downs to help continue to build the strong relationship we have with OSHA.  Here you see him talking with John Goodrich, President Infrastructure Division and Damian Alvarez, EHS Manager.

Border Safety Systems presented the fall protection awareness training to the JFC and subcontractor employees.

Infrastructure Group – El Paso, TX

As we prepare to begin the “Montana Project” in El Paso that includes the construction of several bridges we wanted to take the opportunity to gather most of our Infrastructure employees together to talk to them about the importance of fall protection. 

Border Safety Services performed the fall protection demonstration along with BJ Schrader with MSA.

Multifamily Division – Houston, TX – SBC Kingwood

Our multifamily division took the opportunity to invite Mr. Jim Shelton, the Compliance Assistance Specialist for the OSHA – Houston North Area Office to meet with SBC Kingwood Project team members and subcontractors.  In spite of 5” of rain the day of the event there were 70 total attendees for a total of 2 hours of training including Ladder Safety, Fall Prevention & Personal Fall Arrest Systems presented by Lawless Group of Houston.  Additionally, the local representative from Hilti demonstrated some of the tools that can be used for Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure Mitigation.

Commercial Division – San Antonio, TX – Thompson Hotel @ the Riverwalk

Our commercial division in San Antonio, TX took the opportunity to spend a week focusing on safety training that ranged from Fall Prevention and Protection to general safety awareness.

Mr. Alex Porter, Area Director for the OSHA San Antonio Area Office joined us on Thursday for the “official” Fall Protection Stand Down and spent time talking with our team members and all of our subcontractor workers about the importance of fall prevention and protection.

Infrastructure Division – Austin, TX

Like many of our locations, our Austin Infrastructure Division fought weather complications, ultimately deciding to schedule the meeting at the Office and Shop location rather than meeting on projects that were rained out.

Ben Pratt with HD Supply presenting the Fall Prevention and Protection Training to all of the workers. 

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