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.

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. 

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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  • #StandDown4Safety

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

May 6 – 10, 2019

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The first full week of May is dedicated to Fall Prevention. This focus is for the Construction Industry, but Falls occur in every industry, so regardless of what industry you work in, why not take a moment to talk with your employees about the potential fall hazards in their workplace and at their homes and educate them on how to prevent injuries and fatalities related to falls.

Construction Industry

Approximately 1/3 of the construction fatalities in 2017 were the result of falls. And all of those fatalities were preventable.

Fatalities from falls don’t have to occur from a great height, they can occur from a fall on the same level…all it takes is for the victim to fall in such a way that they strike their head on something, so don’t ignore the hazards associated with:

  • Ladders – Step ladders, Straight ladders, and even Step stools
  • Stairs
  • Scaffolding
  • Excavations
  • Holes in the walking surface
  • Changes in elevations – Curbs, mechanical troughs
  • Housekeeping – Trash, Spilled liquids, Mud or Ice accumulation

Resources

OSHA has put together a collection of resource materials that you can use for your Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction this week. Click here. These resources aren’t exclusive to this week…so use them through out the year to reinforce your message.

Other Industries

The construction industry doesn’t hold the exclusive rights to fall hazards or the fatalities associated with them. So, if you work in other industries make sure you take the time to look at the work areas and assess them for fall hazards. Some of the common potential hazards that come to mind when I think about other industries are:

  • Stairs – do your workers properly use the stairs?
  • Ladders – do your workers properly use ladders?
  • Loading docks – are your loading docks properly protected?
  • Housekeeping
    • are all of your materials properly stored so they don’t become tripping hazards?
    • are all spills cleaned up properly so they don’t become slip hazards?

At Home

Now, for the one that hits home. Literally, at home. Think about all the things that you may do around your home that could create a fall hazard.

  • Do you use a ladder when you need to change that burned out light bulb, or do you stand on a chair? If you do use a ladder is it tall enough or are you standing on the top of it?
  • Do you use a step stool to reach the items stored on the top shelf of your kitchen cabinets, or are you standing on a chair, or, even worse, the counter?
  • Do you use the ladder properly when you are hanging your Holiday lights?

Conclusion

Falls are a major cause of serious injury and fatalities in the U.S. And they are ALL preventable.

Trenching Safety

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The OSHA Region 6 Training Institute Education Centers recently published a video on trenching and excavation safety.

The video is one hour long and it does require you to register to receive the Video Link, but it is worth the effort. Click here to head to the registration page.

For JFC Employees… head to our Safety Intranet for a link to the video and the password.

Additional resources:

Here are two additional articles from last fall that are worth reviewing as well.

National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction

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Have you started planning?

The official dates have been set! The sixth annual National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction will occur May 6-10, 2019.

Click here for more information.

New to the concept?

For those that have never participated in the National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction it can seem a bit daunting. But, when you click the link above you will find a whole host of resources to use. Whether you are a large contractor that has employees exposed to many types of fall hazards, or a small contractor that simply works from ladders, this is a great opportunity to take the time to gather your forces and focus their attention on the specific fall hazards they face during the normal course of their work day.

Take 5

Or 15… Your Stand-down doesn’t have to take hours. It really is meant to be a concentrated focus on fall hazards in the construction work place that are specific to your workers. Get them involved.

  • What are the hazards you see?
  • How can we better address those hazards?
  • Are the tools provided appropriate?
    • Maybe you provide a ladder to work from but would a one-man lift be safer? quicker?
    • If you work at heights, have you addressed falling objects? Do you need to look into purchasing tool lanyards.

These small questions can really help you narrow your focus and address the real concerns that your workers face every day.

Crane Standards are Final

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As of November 10, 2018, ALL Crane Operators MUST be certified.  This certification is usually done through the following organizations:

  • NCCCO
  • NCCER
  • CIC

Additionally, per the final rule of the regulation, the Crane Operators must also be “evaluated by their employer” to ensure they are qualified to operate the crane to which they have been assigned.  The original deadline for this evaluation process was February 7, 2019.  However, according to the temporary enforcement policy for evaluation and documentation of crane operators this deadline has been extended to April 15, 2019 AS LONG AS the employer has made a good faith effort to comply.

This new deadline is for the EVALUATION process ONLY.  It is not for the Required Certification.

Read here for more information regarding the Crane Operator Certification.

One additional point that needs to be clarified is for the knuckle-boom cranes that are typically used for delivery of materials (such as drywall).  There are times that these fall under the crane standard… specifically, when they are holding materials in the air while the material is either being installed, unloaded, unbundled, or un-palletized.  If it is simply placing the full pallet or bundle of material on a balcony or upper floor or roof, etc. then it is not covered by the crane standards.  For the Letter of Interpretation regarding this specific type of equipment see here.