December 2012

2012 Look-Back and Commitment to "Finish Strong and Finish Safe" for 2013

On January 1, 2012, the International Association launched the "Zero Fatality" campaign to target the deadly dozen hazardous activities resulting in fatalities and disabling injuries to our members. We deeply regret the tragic loss of seven members this year. General President Walter Wise is committed to achieving a zero fatality year, and challenges all our members to "finish strong and finish safe in 2013." Our International Association has the best leadership and resources to address any safety and health issues arising at a local, state, or national level.

My December Report provides an overview of work activities and causation factors contributing to these fatalities. In 2012, many district councils and local unions achieved outstanding safety performance on projects, a testament to the training and intervention of our members, who recognized unsafe conditions and unsafe acts, and who chose to "See Something - Say Something."

Overview of 2012 Fatality Incidents and Causation Factors

The following are photographs and brief descriptions of fatalities occurring in 2012. The photographs are for illustration and reference purposes, with the intent to emphasize the importance of recognizing and avoiding hazards to prevent reoccurrence, and are not photos from the jobsites where the incidents occurred.

Aerial lift incident: Aerial lift equipment was overturned during use to perform common steel erection activities. The safe use of aerial lift equipment requires a combination of several factors that include but are not limited to specific training on the function of the equipment, level and compact ground conditions, and use of other equipment near elevated aerial lift devices. The OSHA Subpart R - Steel Erection standard contains special controlling contractor requirements pertaining to jobsite conditions and safe access for the steel erector's equipment including aerial lift equipment. All members must receive training on aerial lift equipment prior to use.

Structural pre-cast concrete collapse incident: Structural collapse occurred during the erection of a multi-story precast concrete parking structure. The combined weight of precast floor tees, inverted tee beams, and wall panels equate to several tons and require special erection considerations by qualified personnel. Maintaining structural stability during precast concrete erection is one of the primary training topics provided in a comprehensive training course developed by the Ironworkers National Training Fund.

Hoisting and rigging incident: During the hoisting of a structural column, a rigging failure occurred resulting in the column falling. Hoisting and rigging of columns, beams, and other structural, must be performed by a "qualified rigger," not only a requirement contained in the OSHA Subpart R - Steel Erection standard, but a common safety provision included in project safety requirements.  There has been much focus and controversy on qualified rigger training by owners and other parties during the past year, and the Ironworkers National Training Fund has developed a nationally-recognized, comprehensive "qualified rigger" training program.  

Crane collapse incident: During the dismantling of a crane, the mast collapsed. The assembly and disassembly of all types of cranes must be in accordance with the manufactures specifications and performed under the supervision of a qualified and competent person referred to as the "assembly disassembly" (AD) director, whose responsibilities include supervision of crew members performing crane assembly and disassembly activities. The Ironworkers National Training Fund has developed a comprehensive "Crane Reference Manual" providing illustrations and requirements for the assembly and disassembly of several types of commonly used cranes and details specific responsibilities pertaining to the AD director.

Floor opening and barricading incident: After the steel erection was completed, an area was barricaded to prevent access. This barricaded area contained an exposed floor opening resulting in a fall through the opening. Floor and roof openings require consideration for either barricading to prevent access or adequate coverings to prevent falls through openings. Requirements pertaining to barricade systems and floor opening covers are easily confused. It is our mission to provide specific instruction on the correct use and installation of these systems to prevent falls through floor and roof openings. The Ironworkers National Training Fund has developed specific training modules providing illustrations and requirements pertaining to barricades, and floor and roof opening covers. 

As 2012 ends, we mourn the loss of ironworker lives, and recommit to achieving "Zero Fatalities in 2013." Thank you for all of you efforts to ensure every ironworker returns home safe.