December 2011

Safety and Training Departmental Report

Effective August 1, 2011 General President Wise appointed me to the position of executive director of Safety and Health to raise the standard of safety performance for our members throughout the United States and Canada. I appreciate this opportunity to serve our members and will work closely with the district councils, local unions, and IMPACT to address safety and health issues, and implement new initiatives to help prevent workplace fatalities and disabling injuries. I am a member of Local 10 (Kansas City, Mo.) and grateful for the apprenticeship training and work experience I received during my time in the field. 

In 1994, I was appointed to the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC) to help draft new safety standards for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Subpart R – Steel Erection Standard. During this rulemaking process, I worked with representatives of the Iron Workers International to review 673 fatality reports provided by OSHA. These reports revealed the causation factors of many fatalities during the steel erection process that later resulted in new OSHA standards designed to protect our members. However, not included in these OSHA fatality reports and statistics are the untold stories of emotional and financial hardships incurred by family members and friends left behind. 

It is important for our members to know that General President Wise, General Secretary Dean, and General Treasurer McHugh are committed to the safety and health of our members. I have accompanied the general officers to several meetings with the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA and agency officials to address current compliance directives pertaining to steel erection, and pursue new safety standards for reinforcing steel industry. The International Association and stakeholders representing the reinforcing steel and posttensioning industry hafieldve petitioned the agency to pursue a new OSHA standard to address serious hazards in the reinforcing steel industry. The current OSHA standards pertaining to reinforcing steel and post-tensioning operations written in 1971 are antiquated, and must be revised to protect our members. We are pleased that the agency has agreed with our position that new safety standards for reinforcing steel and post-tensioning are warranted. OSHA has included a new “reinforced concrete” standard as part of the agency’s regulatory agenda. 

With the support and resources of President Wise, the Safety and Health Department is launching many new initiatives that are designed to produce measurable results for protecting our members throughout the United States and Canada. Following is a brief outline of safety and health initiatives and services that you will learn more about through frequent Safety and Health Department publications and information provided to your district council and local union. 

Safety and Health Department Initiatives for 2012

  1. International Association Campaign— “Countdown to Zero fatalities & Incidents in 2012”
 President Wise has commissioned a 2012 campaign to achieve zero fatalities & incidents. This campaign will challenge all members to “intervene and prevent unsafe conditions and unsafe acts” in the workplace. The campaign will include hard-hat stickers, gang-box stickers, and posters for training facilities and local unions urging members to make “safety intervention job–1.” I will work closely with district councils, local unions, and IMPACT regional advisory boards to promote the International Association’s campaign “Countdown to Zero Fatalities & Incidents in 2012.” 

  1. Targeting the “Deadly Dozen Hazards Leading to Fatalities and Fisabling Injuries” 
Many of the fatalities and disabling injuries affecting our members throughout the United States and Canada continue to be stem from the same common activities and hazards. Following are the primary “deadly dozen activities and hazards” that will be the focus of our campaign to prevent fatalities and disabling injuries. 
  • Falls through unprotected or inadequate floor opening covers. 
  • Collapse of unsecured open web steel joists. 
  • Lack of fall protection and inadequate use of fall arrest equipment. 
  • Falls during installation of floor and roof decking. 
  • Material handling injuries during steel erection and reinforcing steel activities. 
  • Column collapse due to anchor bolt failure and/or insufficient concrete strength. 
  • Structural collapse of unsupported reinforcing steel columns, walls, and decks. 
  • Struck-by injuries from falling objects, tools, and materials. 
  • Caught between injuries during hoisting and rigging operations. 
  • Impalement from unprotected reinforcing dowels or other vertical projections. 
  • Electrical hazards and injuries from high-voltage power lines.
  • Heat illness and toxic exposure to chemicals and air-borne contaminants. 
  1. Ironworkers–IMPACT National Safety Honors Program 
Many projects throughout the United States and Canada are completed by our members and contractor’s on time, on budget, with outstanding safety performance. However, we regret that many of these projects remain unnoticed to project owners, regulatory agencies, insurance carriers, and others in the construction industry. The Iron Workers International and IMPACT have established the “Ironworkers– IMPACT National Safety Honors Program,” designed to formally recognize ironworkers and contractors who achieve outstanding safety performance. Following are some of the highlights of the program that will be posted in future publications, district councils, and local unions.
  • Members must work 500 accident free work hours for the bi-annual awards drawing. 
  • Members must work 1000 accident free hours for the annual awards drawing. 
  • A total of 800 nominations will be selected for the bi-annual (two per year) drawing from all IMPACT regions. 
  • Each IMPACT region is eligible to submit 40 applications bi-annually, every six months. 
  • 400 bi-annual winners = 400 x $250 gift cards = $100,000. 
  • A total of 800 bi-annual winners each year = 800 x $250 gift cards = $200,000 
  • Contractors and ironworkers are limited to one bi-annual nomination annually. 
  • Five of the eligible 800 winners will be chosen for the grand prize drawing. 
  • Five awards finalists will attend IMPACT Annual Conference. 
  • Grand prizewinner = $30,000 pick-up truck (Ford, Chevy, Dodge). 
  • 1st prize winner = $1,000 cash 
  • 2nd prize winner = $1,000 cash 
  • 3rd prize winner = $1,000 cash 
  • 4th prize winner = $1,000 cash 
  1. Outreach Services to District Councils, Local Unions and IMPACT 
I want to make every effort to participate in district council meetings, local union meetings, and IMPACT regional advisory board meetings throughout the United States and Canada to identify any safety and health issues that warrant our attention. There is a variety of safety issues that often arise on projects within the district councils and state OSHA plans throughout the country. These issues involving project owners and special contract safety requirements may require individual focus and attention to prevent incidents and/or costly jobsite delays. Following are some of the services and regulatory assistance that I am willing to provide upon request. 
  • Publication of bi-monthly safety bulletins called “Ironworkers…On the Safe Side.”
  • OSHA clarification letters to district councils and local unions. 
  • Webinars on steel erection, reinforcing steel, and OSHA’s new crane standard.
  • Development of district council and IMPACT safety committees. 
  • Participation in district council and local union meetings.
  • Obtaining accurate injury data for developing causation reports. 
  • Assistance with addressing job site safety issues. 
  1. Regulatory Assistance With Federal OSHA, State Approved OSHA Plans, and MSHA
 I have received many calls and questions from local unions and members who work in states that operate under the provisions of “State Approved OSHA Plans.” Twenty-seven states have implemented their own OSHA plan. State-approved OSHA plans must adopt standards that are “as effective as” the federal OSHA standards. However, it is important to recognize that the term “as effective as” does not mean “as same as” and therefore, some state OSHA plans have adopted variations of federal OSHA standards. 

The Safety and Health Department is also pursuing a new “Iron Workers–MSHA Alliance Agreement” with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The new alliance agreement with recognize many training programs provided by the National Training Fund. Following are some of the services and regulatory assistance that I will provide on a frequent basis.

  • Develop alliance agreements and partnerships with state OSHA plans. 
  • Develop alliance agreements and partnerships with federal OSHA and MSHA.
  • Initiate petitions for rulemaking for new federal and state plan safety standards.
  • Request for official letters of clarification on standards. 
  • Pursue consistent interpretation and enforcement of standards.
  • Intervene on workplace regulatory compliance issues. 
  • Develop and host industry outreach events at training facilities. 

I look forward to devoting my efforts to raising the standard of safety performance for our members throughout the United States and Canada. I appreciate this opportunity to serve our members and will work closely with the district councils and local unions to address safety and health issues, and implement new initiatives to help prevent workplace fatalities and disabling injuries.