July 2012

Department of Reinforcing Ironworkers Continues to Improve Safety Performance in the Rebar Industry

The Department of Reinforcing Ironworkers and Advisory Committee continues efforts to support and help create/implement standards to improve safety performance in our industry.

Steven Rank, executive director of safety and health for the Iron Workers International gave us the following update on the industry coalition urging the support of OSHA for negotiated rulemaking for the development of new safety standards and regulations to address specific workplace hazards in the reinforcing and post-tensioning industry:

"The International Association and IMPACT are pleased that our persistence to pursue new safety standards for reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities has paid off. On March 28, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a Request for Information https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2012-07510.pdf (RFI) that seeks comments on how to prevent injuries and deaths from reinforcing concrete activities in construction. OSHA will use the comments received to learn more about how workers get injured and what solutions exist to prevent injury and death, including possible regulatory action. Our members face potentially life-threatening hazards including impalement, collapsed walls, and slips, trips and falls. OSHA data indicate that more than 30 workers died while performing these activities from 2000-2009.

Our pursuit of new safety standards to protect our members was initiated by our general officers and representatives from IMPACT in a meeting with agency officials in 2010. Safety hazards relating to reinforcing steel and post-tensioning operations were brought to OSHA's attention and a petition submitted by the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers and IMPACT. The petition included an Industry Coalition of Stakeholders consisting of the Iron Workers International, IMPACT, National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractors, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, Post Tensioning Institute, Western Steel Council, Department of Reinforcing Ironworkers Advisory Committee, and The Center for Construction Research and Training.

After many meetings with agency officials and support letters from district councils, local unions, and contractors, the agency finally agreed that new standards for reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities were warranted and included this in the agency's regulatory agenda."

Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI)

At the CRSI Spring Technical Meeting held in March 2012, the Engineering Practice Committee established the CRSI Safety Committee. Lyle Sieg, executive vice president of safety for Harris Steel Group Inc. is the chairman for the committee, and I was appointed co-chair for the Placing Safety Action Group. Placing concerns for the committee include:

• Fall protection and vertical work
• Excavation
• New/proposed OSHA regulations
• Training
• Safety culture

Also, at the CRSI Placing Reinforcing Bars meeting, the committee established a task group to review the Canadian and Spanish version of the revised CRSI Placing Reinforcing Bars book. Gaetan Sigouin, Reinforcing Advisory Committee member and FST/business manager of Local 765 (Ottawa, Ontario) is part of the task group assigned to review the Canadian version.

National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractors (NARSC)

I attended a NARSC meeting with General President Walter W. Wise. At this meeting, we met with Fred H. Codding, executive director of NARSC and James Ayersman, president of NARSC and owner of Genesis Steel Services, Inc.

NARSC works to strengthen the industry that keeps concrete reinforcement safe, cost-effective, and versatile. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers and its local unions have partnered with NARSC since 1969 with the goal of promoting union reinforcing in the industry. We would like to see more reinforcing union contractors join NARSC. If you would like more information on NARSC, please see their website at www.narsc.com