Archive for the ‘Fall Protection’ Category

Last saturday morning I attended my son’s middle school football scrimmage.   There was a parent that was filming the scrimmage for our coach from the top row of the stands.    Evidently, the stands were not tall enough or there was a better angle to film the scrimmage from the roof of the adjacent gym.   The “film crew” from both teams managed to move and set up their cameras from the roof the the gym.   Now there were 6 guys standing on the roof – two filming and four helping.    I looked at these guys and immediately thought of FALL PROTECTION.   My first thought was not “That’s great that these guys are helping out the team” or “That’s going to be a great angle for the coach to review the scrimmage”.  No, my first thought was “There are these guys up 30 feet in the air with no railing or no safety harness – where is their FALL PROTECTION!”.   Further, I even pointed out to my daughter that these guys, the “film crew”, were taking unnecessary risks and breaking the new fall protection rules.   My daughter rolled her eyes and tuned me out – typical 19 year old!

Do you always think about safety?    Are you aware of risky behavior of others?   Do you look at safety outside of work?

Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve in the safety world?   I am proud of myself for thinking like this – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

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This past weekend I watched the special on Discovery Channel where Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.   The 2 inch tightrope was 1,500 feet in the air (approximately 1/4 of a mile) and 1.400 feet long.   This was all done with no safety wire, parachute, or airbag.   This is the same guy who last year went across Niagara Falls from the US to Canada on a tightrope.   Last years event was televised by ABC and they required him to wear a safety harness – this year the event was televised by Discovery Channel and he was allowed to have NO SAFETY GEAR.

13.1 million people watched ABC to witness the Niagara Falls tightrope walk and 13 million people tuned in to Discovery Channel to witness the Grand Canyon trek.   He basically had the same number of viewers on Discovery Channel as he did on ABC.   According to experts in the entertainment industry – the ratings on the Discovery Channel were so high because he wore NO SAFETY GEAR.   

Do you think Discovery Channel would have shown him fall?    No – Discovery Channel would not have shown him fall.   There was a 7-8 minute television delay that was not announced.   Discovery Channel did not consider social media and the fact that people who were there in person were twittering 7-8 minutes before it was “live” on television.   Tweets like “Good luck – first steps have been taken”, “Oh my gosh – he is bending down on the rope”, and “He made it safely – congratulations” were out there before he started or finished on “live” TV.

I think it’s not wise to do any stunt with NO SAFETY GEAR.   I don’t think the ratings would have been impacted with or without safety gear.    Regardless if he is a trained professional or a rookie – one should always practice proper safety!   This is a great example of “being lucky” when it comes to PPE.  I am going to talk about it at a upcoming safety meeting – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

I am in the UK this week working with one of our facilities on an upcoming factory relocation.   Over the past few days, I visited their current manufacturing sites as well as their new consolidated building.   The new factory is a 205,000 square foot facility that is absolutely awesome.   It has the highest ceiling height that I have ever seen in a manufacturing building.   The sub-contractors were running gas lines, electric lines, air lines and hanging lights while I was there.   I am not familiar with the safety rules and regulations of the UK so I asked a few questions while we toured this impressive building.    There were 5 or 6 scissor lifts and cherry pickers being used by the sub-contractors performing the work.   This equipment was specialized to accommodate the extremely high ceiling.   What I found interesting was that fall protection when using a scissor lift was OPTIONAL.   Fall protection was required on a cherry picker but OPTIONAL on a scissor lift!   Is the fall any different?   Does it hurt any less when falling from a scissor lift?  Why would it be any safer on a scissor lift than a cherry picker?

I asked why is there a difference in fall protection requirements between a scissor lift and a cherry picker?   Why would one be OPTIONAL and the other mandatory?   The on-site safety professional explained to me that it’s easier to be thrown from a cherry picker than it is from a scissor lift.   The UK safety laws allow each individual using a scissor lift to make their own risk assessment and determine if they need a safety harness on an individual by individual basis.

When it comes to extreme heights, I am not in favor of leaving a risk assessment up to an individual.   As an employer, we have an obligation to provide a safe work environment.   We need to protect every employee from being injured – even if they think nothing will happen.   Nobody goes up into a cherry picker or scissor lift with the intention of falling to the ground.   It’s always a freak accident that occurs when a safety harness does it’s job.   I completely support fall protection and do not believe that it should be OPTIONAL – What do you think?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

I read an article where a worker was killed while constructing the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex in Stamford, Connecticut.   The employee fell 35 feet while installing a metal roof.   Upon investigation, it was noted that the fall protection was inadequate and ineffective.   It was further noted that “This employer was well aware that these workers were exposed to falls but did not take steps to eliminate a significant hazard.   A combination of proper fall protection and effective training could have prevented this needless loss of life”.   American Building, LLC was fined $50,000 by OSHA for this incident.

$50,000??????  Really??????   What about criminal prosecution for management at American Building, LLC????   If American Building, LLC was well aware that these workers were exposed to this hazard and did not take steps to eliminate the hazard, somebody should be going to JAIL – not a $50,000 fine!

The killed worker was wearing his safety harness, but was not tethered to an anchor point.  Another worker on the job site  was tethered to an anchor point, but his lanyard was too long – if he fell, he would have hit the ground before his fall protection did any good.  Why did American Building, LLC supply safety harnesses that would not work?  Why did the American Building Supply, LLC not train these employees on proper tethering to a secure anchor point?  Did American Building Supply, LLC just go through the motions to satisfy the APPEARANCE OF SAFETY to OSHA?

Companies and negligent management need to be held personally liable for situations like this one.  It is unacceptable that this worker was killed on the job because there was not proper fall protection or effective training.    We have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace.   It is unacceptable for any worker to be injured on the job, let alone killed!

In my opinion, it’s time for OSHA to get real about protecting workers in America.   I am not advocating bureaucracy and a creation of additional rules and regulations.   I am not advocating increased inspections.   I support a responsibility by management to ensure that safety is a priority.   Make management personally liable and subject to jail time for gross negligence.    Management at companies, like American Building, LLC, would act differently if they personally faced jail time.  That’s how OSHA can get real about protecting workers in America.

I am going to actually BE safe – not just have the APPEARANCE OF SAFETY – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434