OSHA Seeks Members to Serve on Committee for Improving Construction Workers’ Safety and Health

OSHA is accepting nominations for individuals to serve on the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health. The group advises the Secretary of Labor on developing standards and policies affecting the construction industry. OSHA is seeking employee, employer, state safety and health agency, and public representatives with experience and expertise in construction-related safety and health issues to fill 14 vacancies. Nominations must be submitted to www.regulations.gov or by mail or facsimile before November 16. For more information, read the Federal Register notice.

U.S. Department of Labor Kicks Off Safe + Sound Week August 13

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages Americans to commit to workplace safety and health by participating in Safe + Sound Week, August 13-19, 2018.

More than 200 organizations and businesses are partnering with OSHA to promote the importance of safety and health programs. Implementing a safety and health program is one of the most effective ways to reduce injuries and illnesses, and improve business. Effective programs can increase worker satisfaction, improve productivity, and reduce costs associated with workplace injuries.

Establishing a safety and health program is simple. Some steps to get started include worker training, hazard identification, and seeking worker input to maintaining safety on the job.

Participating in Safe + Sound Week is easy. Organizations of any size or in any industry looking for an opportunity to show their commitment to safety can participate. Start by visiting www.osha.gov/safeandsoundweek for more information, resources, and tools to help plan and promote safety events.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

OSHA Proposes Rule Changes for Crane Operators

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced a proposed rule designed to increase the safety of America’s construction sites. In addition to providing long-term clarity regarding crane operator certification requirements, the proposal reinstates the employer duty to ensure that a crane operator is qualified to safely operate equipment.

Under the proposed rule, a change to the categories of certifications for crane operators would ensure more operators are able to meet the requirement. The proposal discontinues a 2010 requirement, which never went into effect, that crane operator certification must include the crane lifting capacity for which the operator is certified. The proposal would expand the type of certification programs for crane operators.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be submitted by June 20, 2018.

OSHA recently published a final rule extending the operator certification compliance date until November 10, 2018, in order to provide the agency with additional time to complete this rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Spring Forward, Fall Protect

Spring arrived late here in Michigan, and before the weather — and construction — began to heat up, I saw a press release from MIOSHA indicating the second year of its “Stop Falls. Save Lives.” safety awareness campaign would focus on the roofing industry. I called Nella Davis-Ray, Director of MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division in Lansing, to ask her why.

“Nationally and at the state level, we are pleased to see that overall, when you look at general industry and construction, there is a downward trend in work-related fatalities and injuries, and we like to think we play a part in that downward trend,” she said. “Even though we are seeing this downward trend, when you look at roofers’ fall-related incidents, and particularly when you look at roof-related fatalities, their rate is 10 times higher than the rate for construction workers as a whole. So, if there is any trade we can talk to about falls, the data shows the one group we should be focusing on is the roofers.”

The statistics were sobering, but the overall message was hopeful. “Our message is that all falls are preventable,” Davis-Ray said. “We really do believe that in MIOSHA.”

The key is making sure every employee is properly trained, has the proper safety equipment — and knows how to use it — and follows the jobsite-specific safety plan. According to Davis-Ray, the MIOSHA can help with all of those things — and the services are free.

The CET Division works independently of the Enforcement Division. It provides guidance to employers and employees through a variety of methods, including classroom training and educational materials including literature, videos, and a fall protection website, www.michigan.gov/stopfalls. The greatest tool of all, noted Davis-Ray, is a staff of consultants who can provide individualized training.

“I’m surprised how many employers, particularly contractors, are not aware that all they have to do is pick up the phone and call us,” she said. “At their request, we can schedule a time and location for one of our construction safety consultants to come out and work with them directly on safety and health issues.”

Consultants can review written requirements, explain interpretations of the standard, and answer specific questions about a project and whether or not a contractor might be in compliance. They can also help in crafting a comprehensive safety program. “We always try to look at the big picture,” Davis-Ray says. “The overarching issue is to have an effective system in place so that you ensure that safety is considered as a part of every contract.”

Davis urges contractors in every state to explore the free educational resources OSHA can provide. Michigan contractors can call 800-866-4674 or visit www.michigan.gov/miosha to learn more.

 

NRCA to Hold Educational Events for National Safety Stand-Down

As part of its annual support for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction taking place throughout the U.S. from May 7-11, 2018, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is partnering with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to host two educational events aimed at reducing fall fatalities in the roofing industry.

The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show 92 workers in the roofing industry died in 2016 from falls that occurred as they were doing their jobs. Those numbers reflect 92 families that have been changed forever by the loss of a loved one — a spouse, father, mother, son or daughter.

Organized by OSHA, the National Safety Stand-Down is an effort to focus company and worker attention on the significance of fall hazards in construction and emphasize the importance of effectively implementing fall-protection systems on every project.

On May 7, NRCA will offer a free webinar at 1 p.m. (CDT), that will kick off with an introduction from Dean McKenzie, OSHA’s director of the directorate of construction. It will focus on how to use a job hazard analysis (JHA) and other pre-job resources and activities during the job and after its completion. A roofing company’s safety culture and its effects on fall prevention also will be addressed.

The second event, a live half-day fall-prevention awareness seminar, will take place Tuesday, May 8, from 8 a.m. until noon at NRCA’s headquarters in Rosemont, Ill. Topics will build off the previous day’s webinar, including performing a JHA, discussing and demonstrating hazards associated with rescuing a fallen worker while suspended by his or her fall-arrest system, key fall-protection regulatory requirements and case studies from attendees’ fall-related experiences. All attendees are encouraged to listen to the webinar before attending the seminar.

Job foremen, superintendents, roofing contractors and safety directors are encouraged to attend both events.

For more information, visit www.nrca.net.

Silicone Coating Restores the Roof, Reduces Utility Costs at Mixed-Use Complex

At the Shoppes of Johnson’s Landing in Angier, North Carolina, ACC applied a high-solids silicone roof coating on the 20-year-old metal roof to seal penetrations, restore the roof, and provide a white reflective coating. Photos: All-County Contracting (ACC)

Glenn Wujcik, the owner of All-County Contracting (ACC), headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been fascinated with spray rigs since he and his brother first used one in 1979 to insulate a van with spray polyurethane foam (SPF). His company specializes in applying SPF and roof coatings on existing buildings. Lately, he’s found silicone roof coatings are making up an increasing share of his company’s workload.

“The coatings industry in general is booming right now,” Wujcik says. “A lot of the TPO and EPDM roofs are nearing the end of their service life, and instead of tearing them off, if you catch them in time, you can go over it with the silicone coating and get a new 10-year warranty. Silicones have a proven track record. When you put it on properly, it weathers really well. It has excellent elongation.”

Wujcik characterizes himself as a hands-on owner who strives to be on the site for every job. He believes there is an art as well as a science to operating a spray rig properly, and experience is crucial. “I love doing this,” he says. “I’ve been doing it for more than 30 years, my business partner’s been doing it more than 30 years, and our best sprayer has sprayed more than both of us combined. We know what we have to do, we know how long it’s going to take, and we have the right equipment. We are really good about the preparation and the application.”

Coatings and spray foam are excellent products, but only in the right situations, notes Wujcik. They should only be used on the proper substrates and applied in the right conditions. “In spraying, the most important thing is knowing when not to spray,” he says. “Right now, I’m working on a job, and for the last two days, there have been 10-20 mph winds, and I haven’t finished it yet. I told the owner, ‘I haven’t oversprayed anything yet, and I don’t want to.’ I’d rather do it right and not have any problems.”

Wujcik points to a recent project on a mixed-use building in Angier, North Carolina, to illustrate some of the benefits of a silicone roof coating. “It’s a U-shaped building with about 14,000 square feet of roof space,” Wujcik notes. “There’s a bakery, a restaurant, a pharmacy, and a doctor’s office, and there are a lot of penetrations on the roof.”

The penetrations were the site of multiple leaks. Wujcik decided to use a high-solids silicone coating, GE Enduris 3502, to prevent leaks and extend the life of the roof. The monolithic coating will seal the penetrations, and the white reflective surface will provide an additional benefit: reduced cooling bills in the summer. “Putting a white coating on it is going to reduce their energy load in the summer pretty substantially,” he says.

Applying the Coating

On this project, the first step was to pressure wash the existing roof. “That’s where most coating jobs fail — surface preparation,” Wujcik states. “Washing the roof properly is one of the most important steps.”

The high-solids silicone coating was applied to the existing standing seam metal roof. Care had to be taken to ensure all sides of the metal ribs were properly covered with the material. Photos: All-County Contracting (ACC)

The company uses 4,000 psi belt-drive power washers, so care has to be taken not to damage the roof or skylights, which are covered and marked for safety reasons. The company follows all OSHA regulations, which in most cases means setting up safety lines 6 feet from the edge, with stanchions 10 feet apart, to establish a safety perimeter.

“Safety is my number one thing,” Wujcik says, “I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never had a lost-time accident. I preach safety. That is absolutely the most important — and accidents are expensive.”

The next step is to apply the GE Seam Sealer at the penetrations. “When this roof was originally installed 20 years ago, they did it textbook perfect,” Wujcik notes. “Each 4-inch pipe coming though had at least 20 fasteners holding it down.”

However, over time, the rubber grommets on the fasteners can degrade, and expansion and contraction can take their toll. “We have really hot summers here, we’ve seen roofs where literally thousands of fasteners have backed out,” he says.

The seam sealer is typically applied with a brush. “Any horizontal seams, any termination bars, any penetration that goes through the roof that has a screw, we apply the seam sealer,” he says. “It goes on quite thick — at about 80 linear feet per gallon.”

After the seam sealer cures for one day, the coating is applied. Spraying flat roofs with EPDM, TPO, and PVC membranes is a fairly straightforward process, according to Wujcik. “You basically spray it just like you would spray paint a wall,” he says. “You overlap your spray pattern 50 percent. I’ve been doing it for so many years, and you get a feeling for how fast you can go.”

After the roof was power washed, the seam sealer as applied to the seams and penetrations. After it cured, two coats of the high-solids silicone product were sprayed on the roof. Photos: All-County Contracting (ACC)

A wet mil gauge is used to ensure the proper thickness. Wujcik notes the high-solids silicone formulation has very little shrinkage as it dries.  “As we’re spraying, we insert the gauge into the wet coating and it tells you how many mils you have sprayed down. In this case, we were applying to achieve 21 dry mils.”

The spray rig is set up on the ground and operated by one man, while the sprayer and the hose man are working on the roof. “It’s a minimum of a three-man crew per coating rig,” he notes. “You’re dealing with about 6,000-7,000 psi of pressure, so you need special hoses rated for at least 7,000 psi. You never want to kink them. If you busted a hose, by the time someone came down from the roof to the machine, you could pump out 20 gallons on the ground. That’s why you need a ground man.”

Flat roofs are sprayed perpendicular to the roof, but the standing seam metal roof on this project called for a different technique. “On metal roofs with high ridges, if you don’t angle your gun you’ll miss the sides of the ribs,” Wujcik points out. “You have to do it from one direction, working one way, and then turn around and do it from the other direction, working the other way. If you try to spray straight down on the roof, you’re going to miss the nooks and crannies in all of those ribs.”

The surface area of the ribs also has to be taken into account when calculating the amount of liquid that will be applied, notes Wujcik.

The final step in the process is to touch up the applications at the penetrations to ensure a clean look. On vertical surfaces including parapet walls, crews ensure the coating is applied to a uniform height. “On the last day, we take up brushes and rollers and cut in straight lines,” he says. “That really finishes the job. The detailing gives it that final touch.”

Open for Business

The active and open jobsite posed some challenges. “There were a lot of cars around the building, so we had to be very careful not to hit them with overspray,” Wujcik notes. “When you’re working on a plant, you might be able to move all of the cars to a different location, but at doctor’s offices and restaurants, you have traffic in and out of the parking lot all of the time. We can use car covers if there are a few cars there, but when they are in and out like that, it’s not practical, so you have to be very careful when you do the job.”

The job was completed in the winter, and bad weather resulted in some delays. “A job like this in the summertime would have been a weeklong project at most,” Wujcik notes. “This project took almost a month because we had an exceptionally cold winter with a lot of high winds. It took extra time, but that’s my philosophy: If it’s not the right conditions, I just won’t do it.”

The project qualified for a 10-year warranty, and when it expires ACC plans to be there to pressure wash and recoat the roof for another 10-year warranty.

“We inspect our jobs every year,” Wujcik says. He notes that annual roof inspections and routine maintenance are the simplest and most cost-effective ways to ensure the roof’s life span. Yet these steps are often neglected.

“It’s amazing that some of these multi-million-dollar companies don’t send their maintenance guys up on the roof for 10 minutes to check the drains,” he says. “If a roof has 2 inches of pine needles around the drain, the whole roof has to have 2 inches of water on it before it begins to drain. That puts tremendous, tremendous stress on a roof. Keeping your drains clear is really important.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: All-County Contracting (ACC), Raleigh, North Carolina

MATERIALS

Roof Coating: Enduris by GE 3502, GE Performance Coatings, www.GE.com/silicones
Seam Sealer: GE Seam Sealer, GE Performance Coatings

Why Planning Ahead for Post-Roofing Fall Protection Matters

Incorporating permanent fall protection systems into the overall construction plan benefits workers during the initial construction phase and while conducting building maintenance. Photos: MSA, The Safety Company

The majority of new and existing buildings require safe access to the roof area for ongoing building maintenance, as well as to service equipment such as telecommunications masts, skylights, air conditioning units, elevator machinery, and PV panels.

As such, failing to plan is planning to fail—especially when it comes to incorporating fall protection systems into the design, construction, and maintenance of a facility.

Without question, construction is a high-hazard industry and worker safety is, of course, paramount. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) helps ensure workplace safety standards by requiring fall protection equipment, fall arrest systems, and fall protection training for workers at height in the construction industry.

And yet there are pervasive numbers of architects, builders, general contractors, and building owners who are simply unaware that incorporating fall protection systems into their overall construction plan is not only possible, but highly desirable—not just to the benefit of the construction worker or roofer, but also to the overall building aesthetics, as well as ease and safety of ongoing building maintenance.

When it comes to commercial and infrastructure construction, the most important safety concerns are prevention of fall- and falling object-related accidents. In fact, 100 percent of fall-related accidents are preventable; yet, statistics show that falls are the leading cause of construction-related deaths.

That’s why OSHA holds fall-prevention planning in such high regard, as evidenced by its Fall Prevention Campaign, which urges construction employers to “plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely,” including “how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.”

Planning for, and incorporating, fall protection systems into the building design before construction offers these four key benefits:

  1. It allows for appropriate and proper safety equipment outfitting and training of the worker at height at all phases of construction and maintenance, giving building owners and facility managers peace of mind that maintenance staff have the safety systems they need to carry out their duties.
  2. It maintains the integrity of the original building design, giving architects more aesthetic control over the building.
  3. It saves the cost, confusion, and chaos of retrofitting buildings with OSHA-required at-height fall protection systems, allowing for the planning and implementation of high-quality, versatile systems.
  4. It protects roof structures from potential damage caused by post-construction add-on systems.

Mitigating Risk

From trips to slips, and from falls to fatalities, the most often cited OSHA fall-related violations involve skylights, steep-slope roofs, and unprotected edges.

To reduce risk, it is imperative to plan and implement a comprehensive, engineered fall protection system specific to the building design. Components may include such fall-protection products as:

  • Designated walkway systems
  • Energy-absorbing force posts
  • Engineered horizontal lifelines
  • Fall arrest systems and fall limiters
  • Fixed ladder fall protection
  • Guardrail systems
  • Hands-free anchors
  • Overhead protection systems
  • Safety net systems
  • Self-retracting lifelines
  • Vertical lifeline systems

Training everyone on the proper use of safety systems is a crucial part of the process. Remember, workers at height are always at risk of falling, and it’s your job to protect them. Early-stage planning helps make sure that the systems used are perfectly integrated into the building to not only protect the worker but also to seamlessly fit with the building design.

Best Practices

Here are some best practice recommendations when planning an engineered fall protection system:

  • Start early. Your in-house specification team should work with your solutions provider to assess your building’s unique installation requirements.
  • Design to requirements. Ask your solutions provider to design a system that meets both pre- and post-construction requirements. Stipulate that your provider help with CAD concepts, working drawings, and plans, as necessary.
  • Confirm the approach. Request a “checking service” to make sure that the recommended approach is the absolute best available for your particular application.
  • Ensure versatility. Since access requirements vary by build or retrofit, make sure your solutions provider has the ability to adapt to a wide range of roofing shapes, materials, and contours.
  • Confirm safe access post-construction. While construction-related safety is important, it’s also critical to ensure total safety for workers with a system that allows safe access to the finished roof.
  • Consider building aesthetics. Ask your safety solutions provider to consider form as well as function; namely the appearance of the building and surrounding areas. For example, components of safety systems, such as bodies and base plates of our posts, can be powder-coated to soften their appearance against the roofing material.

When specifying fall protection systems, make sure you consider all aspects of a well-engineered system, from quality, versatility and lifespan, to aesthetic appeal, teamwork, and innovation.

About the Author: Anne Osbourn is an Industrial Marketing Manager at MSA, The Safety Company, http://us.msasafety.com.

OSHA Extends Deadline for Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue accepting 2016 OSHA Form 300A data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) until midnight on Dec. 31, 2017. OSHA will not take enforcement action against those employers who submit their reports after the Dec. 15, 2017, deadline but before Dec. 31, 2017, final entry date. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the ITA will no longer accept the 2016 data.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

OSHA Extends Compliance Date for Electronically Submitting Injury, Illness Reports to Dec. 15

To allow affected employers additional time to become familiar with a new electronic reporting system launched on Aug. 1, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the date by which employers must electronically report injury and illness data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to Dec. 15, 2017.

OSHA’s final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses sets Dec. 15, 2017, as the date for compliance (a two-week extension from the Dec. 1, 2017, compliance date in the proposed rule). The rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness information they are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations.

Unless an employer is under federal jurisdiction, the following OSHA-approved State Plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically: California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Establishments in these states are not currently required to submit their summary data through the ITA. Similarly, state and local government establishments in Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, and New York are not currently required to submit their data through the ITA.

OSHA is currently reviewing the other provisions of its final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to reconsider, revise, or remove portions of that rule in 2018.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Keep Guidelines Up to Date and Make Safety Part of Your Company Culture

Safety is a consideration in any type of work, whether in the office, a warehouse or outside. There are many concerns, including personal well-being, liability, regulation, public relations and cost-benefit analysis to keep in mind.

There is nothing more important than safety. Every employee wants to go home at the end of the day uninjured. Injuries inhibit the ability to perform work effectively, affecting both the employer and employee. Fatalities have a permanent impact.

Roofing is a category of special concern, due to height and fall injury potential for both sales and production personnel. There are two primary areas of concern: ladder safety and fall hazards. According to a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training titled “Fatal Falls From Roofs Among U.S. Construction Workers,” fatal falls from roofs accounted for one-third of all fall-related construction fatalities during the time period 1992-2009. In its findings, the study found that employers with 10 or fewer employees had a disproportionate number of fatal falls, and that Hispanic workers were a disproportionate number of those fatalities. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that roofing workers are three times more likely to be fatally injured as a result of a fall than other construction industry employees.

In an effort to minimize the potential for injury or fatality, the government has instituted various regulations, which are enforced primarily by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Mandatory roof safety guidelines are an effort to steer the industry towards safer roofing practices.

Implementing Safety Practices That Align With Company Culture

The key components to have in mind are establishing guidelines, training, availability of effective safety equipment, and implementation of procedures that result in a safer work environment. The government, particularly OSHA, has developed guidelines intended to create a safer work environment. Training programs are readily available which interpret the OSHA standards and show how they can be practically implemented, and manufacturers have developed equipment designed to improve worker safety, including new types of ladders, safety harnesses, warning barriers, etc.

None of the above is likely to improve roof safety without a willingness on the part of the employer to mandate utilization of safe roofing practices and incorporate into daily operations a culture of safety.

Proper Safety Training Must Be Practiced Consistently

Employees need to be trained how to safely do their work, they must be provided the tools and equipment which enable them to work safely, and they must be encouraged to implement safe working practices to minimize the chance for injury. With proper training and availability of the proper tools and equipment, safe operations become a matter of “common sense.” Educated workers realize the value of the implementation of safe roofing practices and hence are more likely to incorporate them in their daily work.

Keep Safety Eco-Friendly

Safety is not only a physical issue, it is also an economic issue. As an incentive to incorporate safe practices in daily operations, many workers’ compensation providers offer financial incentives in the form of lower rates, rebates and dividends for lower claims history. This adds to profitability. Realizing the economic benefits of decreased liability exposure due to safe operating practices, many insurance providers offer training programs for free to their policyholders. Costs of development have been paid by the insurer, yet the policyholder benefits in the form of structured training being made available to employees at little or no direct cost. This can be a win-win solution to the question of how to develop and implement an effective safety-training program. Even more beneficial, the programs have been developed by experts in the area of risk mitigation, who have an incentive to find cost-effective means to practically incorporate safe practices into the daily roofing operations environment.

Safety Influences Profitability and Success

Employers who orient their company toward safe roofing practices seem more likely to profitably grow their business. Yes, there is a cost to train employees and implement safe roofing practices, but this is more than offset by the additional benefits to be gained by having available a properly trained workforce with a culture for safety. The availability of well-trained employees enables work to progress effectively, providing greater likelihood of profits. Safe and uninjured employees are less likely to pose a legal risk. Lower claims result in lower insurance costs, which directly affects the bottom line.

Keeping safety guidelines up to date is essential. Employee safety must be an integral part of the company culture. Gathering safety updates via e-mail from government websites allow companies to structure employee training programs and updates to the internal safety procedures. This will enable a company to effectively manage in-house safety programs. When companies have an excellent safety record, there are multiple benefits. A company’s e-mod will continue to move downwards, thereby reducing workers’ compensation costs while helping to ensure employees are able to return home safely each night to be with their families.

Retain Loyal Customers

Customers tend to notice poor safety practices implemented by the employees of their roofer. Along with liability risk, this creates a public relations issue. Not addressing customer concerns can result in loss of customers. Why would a customer continue to contract with a company that obviously disregards the safety of its employees? In the current culture, with its emphasis on the individual, safety is an important area of consideration for any employer wishing to profitably expand.