August 2012

Preventing Material Handling and Staging Incidents

In January of 2012, the Safety and Health Department launched several new initiatives designed to "target the deadly dozen hazardous activities that lead to fatalities and disabling injuries." The focus of this article is to highlight some of the common material handling activities and hazards that commonly occur on the job site. Fatality and incident reports obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the International Association revealed that material handling and staging operations are one of the deadly dozen hazardous activities. Following are illustrations of common job site material handling activities and OSHA standards for our members to recognize. As part of our 2012 Zero Fatality Campaign, remember, "You See Something...You Say Something."

Job Site Access and Layout Conditions

Preventing material handling and staging incidents begins with safe job site conditions to allow crane set-up for off-loading material and staging structural members. The International Association pursued specific OSHA standards to prevent unsafe job site conditions during the material handling and staging process. These Subpart R - Steel Erection standards contain controlling contractor requirements, and it is important to recognize these standards and avoid unsafe conditions. OSHA has defined a controlling contractor as "a prime contractor, general contractor, construction manager or any other legal entity which has the overall responsibility for the construction of the project, its planning, quality and completion." Following is the applicable OSHA Subpart R - Steel Erection standard that requires the controlling contractor to provide and maintain site conditions for the steel erection contractor.

Federal OSHA 1926. 752(c)(1) Site Layout Conditions - The controlling contractor shall ensure that the following is provided and maintained: Adequate access roads into and through the site for safe delivery and movement of equipment, materials and pedestrians.

The photograph above llustrates proper job site access for crane assembly and safely off-loading materials. Whenever access roads are not provided to allow for safe access and delivery of equipment, trucks and materials, the steel erection contractor must notify the controlling contractor to comply with this standard. The assembly of cranes and use other hoisting equipment requires preplanning between the controlling contractor and the steel erection contractor.

Access Roads for Off-Loading Iron

Adequate access roads and site conditions allow for the safe delivery of trucks with structural members. Serious material handling incidents have occurred due to adverse site conditions that cause delivery trucks to sink, and the structural steel to shift or slide. The photograph above illustrates good job site access and site conditions that were provided and maintained by the controlling contractor.

Site Condition Requirements for Staging Areas

Staging and shaking-out structural members requires adequate site conditions to prevent beams from rolling-over and subjecting ironworkers to crushing hazards and incidents. In addition to controlling contractor requirements to ensure safe access roads into and through the job site, following is another OSHA standard that requires the controlling contractor to ensure adequate site conditions or staging and shaking-out structural members.

Federal OSHA 1926. 752(c)(2) Site Layout Conditions - The controlling contractor shall ensure that the following is provided and maintained: A firm, properly graded, drained area, readily accessible to the work with adequate space for the safe storage of materials and safe operation of the erector's equipment.

The two photographs above illustrate a firm and properly graded job site for staging and shaking-out field beams and columns. These job site conditions allow ironworkers to safety work between the field beams and columns to mark centers and install wire ropes. Many controlling contractors have recognized their regulatory responsibility to ensure that adequate site conditions are provided to the steel erection contractor. Good job site conditions not only prevent material handling incidents but increase productivity on the project. It is important for our members to recognize and avoid hazards associated with poor job site conditions and the OSHA standards that were written to ensure adequate workplace conditions.

The "2012 Zero Fatality" campaign will challenge all members to "intervene and prevent unsafe conditions and unsafe acts" in the workplace. Material handling and staging hazards created by unsafe job site conditions have contributed to fatalities and serious incidents. This campaign will include hard-hat stickers and gang-box stickers for training facilities and local unions. I will continue to work closely with district councils, local unions, and IMPACT regional advisory boards throughout the United States and Canada to promote the "2012 Zero Fatality."