August 2012

Q&A Member Engagement to Raise the Standard of Safety Performance

Question: I work in the raising-gang as a hook-on man and was recently told that I cannot use nylon or synthetic slings for performing the multiple lift rigging procedure. We were using synthetic slings so we would not damage the atrium beams that were coated with special finish paint. Are nylon or synthetic slings prohibited for making multiple lifts?

Answer: No, nylon or synthetic slings are not prohibited for making multiple lifts. However, a project contract may include a safety provision that prohibits the use of such slings for making multiple lifts. If nylon or synthetic slings are used within the manufacturer's specifications and rated capacity for a particular hitch, using them is no different than using wire rope slings. Remember that hoisting equipment and slings must be inspected by a qualified rigger prior to each shift.

Question: What is the OSHA fall protection requirement for working on vertical rebar curtain walls? I get questioned all the time about different heights and the use of wall-hooks verses full-body harnesses. So what's the answer?

Answer: The Federal OSHA fall protection requirement for reinforcing installation is contained in the OSHA Subpart M - Fall Protection standard. This standard requires all employees to be protected from fall hazards at heights at six-feet or above. However, OSHA released a letter of clarification that allows point-to-point movement on vertical rebar assemblies using a positioning device (wall-hook and chain) up to 24 feet. When working above 24 feet, a personal fall arrest system in conjunction with a positioning device system must be used. It must be understood that the Federal OSHA clarification letter is not a standard. California is one of the states that operates under the provisions of a state-approved OSHA plan and adopted the point-to-point movement on vertical rebar assemblies using a positioning device (wall-hook and chain) up to 24 feet as a standard, not a letter of clarification. Remember, a project contract may include a fall protection provision that requires the use of both a positioning device and personal fall arrest system at all times.

Question: I have been a shop member and welder for several years. I have concerns about respiratory illnesses coming from welding fumes. How do I know if I am getting exposed to welding fumes that could be harmful?

Answer: Conducting representative air-sample tests during field and shop welding operations will help to determine the exposure levels to various welding fumes. Representative air-sample levels for manganese and hexavalant chromium may differ significantly depending on the field and shop conditions. Air-sampling tests also help to identify exposure levels that are produced by certain types of welding consumables and base metals such as mild steel, galvanized steel and stainless steel. Protection from welding fume exposures requires preventing fumes from entering the breathing zone beneath the welding hood. This can be accomplished by the use of air extraction units that are designed to capture the fumes at the source, or by using of a variety of respirators.

Question: After a connector makes a beam to column connection and secures one end of the beam with two bolts and crosses the beam while it is suspended from the crane hoist line, is that considered "riding the load?" This issue keeps coming up from time to time from owner safety personnel, general contractors, safety consultants, and safety representatives from insurance carriers.

Answer: No, this is NOT considered "riding the load" and is supported by OSHA case law. OSHA contended that this common connector activity constituted "riding the load" and issued citations under the Federal OSHA jurisdiction and under the Calif. state-approved OSHA plan. In both cases, the administrative law judges agreed with our industry position that the above illustration is NOT riding the load and vacated the citations against our contractors.

Question: We have problems with some general contractors who refuse to provide written notifications of any anchor bolt modifications or concrete strength results prior to starting the job. What can we do?

Answer: A general contractor who is also the controlling contractor is responsible under the Subpart R - Steel Erection standard to provide the steel erection contractor with written notifications of any anchor bolts modifications and the concrete strength in footings, piers, and walls prior to the commencement of steel erection. Always contact your employer to verify that these notifications have been provided prior to the commencement of steel erection, and do not proceed until the general contractor has provided them.