August 2015

New Safety Video Targets Fall Hazards and Protecting Floor Openings

The Safety and Health Department in conjunction with the Ironworkers National Training Fund and IMPACT has developed a new safety training video addressing fall hazards and safe practices pertaining to common work activities around floor and roof openings. The video illustrates safe practices for installing and removing temporary plywood coverings, and another method using the “Hazard Awareness Zone” (HAZ) to protect ironworkers from fall hazards. Work activities around floor and roof openings continue to be one of the “deadly dozen hazardous activities” leading to fatalities and disabling injuries throughout the United States and Canada.

On June 3, 2015, representatives from labor and management met at the Ironworkers Training Facility in Benicia, California, to participate in the filming of the “floor opening safety video.” Dick Zampa, apprenticeship director for the Field Ironworkers Apprenticeship and Training; Tom Davies, corporate safety director for the Herrick Corporation; Russell McCrary, director of Safety and Health for the Safety Institute of the District Council of Ironworkers; Greg McClelland, executive director of the Western Steel Council; and Steve Rank, executive director of Safety and Health for the Iron Workers International, developed a preliminary list of hazards and safe practices for illustration in the safety video. Zampa prepared a structural mock-up at the Benicia Regional Training Center with a typical floor opening and assigned two apprentices to illustrate the proper methods for installing and removing floor opening covers. Historically, the improper handling of temporary plywood covers during the removal process has resulted in fatal falls and serious injuries.

Structures also provided overhead beams and cables as an anchorage point allowing the apprentices to use retractable fall arrest devices during the demonstration. In the video, Davies, Zampa and McCrary provide instruction on the safe method to install and remove the temporary plywood floor opening covers. In addition to best practices for handling plywood covers, when plywood is used for floor opening covers, the following strength and labeling standards apply:

• Covers shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
• All covers shall be secured when installed so as to prevent accidental displacement by the wind, equipment, or employees.
• All covers shall be color coded or they shall be marked with the word “HOLE” or “COVER” to provide warning of the hazard.

Another safe practice widely used to protect ironworkers from fall hazards near temporary floor and roof openings is called the Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ). Note: The use of the HAZ is a “safe and best practice” and must not be confused with OSHA standards pertaining to common guardrail systems and barricade systems. In cases where the derrick or erection floor cannot be solidly planked or decked and access openings are present due to steel erection activities such as bolting, welding, guying, inspections, etc., the use of a Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) can be established as a warning to prevent unintended access by other ironworkers on the erection floor.

The following are four best practices and provisions when using a Hazard Access Zone (HAZ).

• The use of a Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) is exclusive to the unfinished derrick or erection floor where work in progress requires floor openings to be uncovered during steel erection activities and for inspection purposes.
• The floor or working level where a Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) is established shall be under the exclusive control of the steel erector and access by the controlling contractor or other trades personnel is prohibited.
• The Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) shall be erected not less than 6 feet from the access opening and not more than 10 feet from the access opening.
• The Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) shall consist of vertical bright green cone with black lettering on both sides that states “DANGER ACCESS OPENING.” The cones shall be connected to each other by solid plastic piping that is designed to warn and prevent access by unauthorized personnel.
• Training must be provided on the above to all employees working on a floor or working level where a Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) has been established.

The “2015 Zero Fatality” campaign challenges all members to “intervene and prevent unsafe conditions and unsafe acts” regarding the installation and removal of floor and roof opening covers. 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 International Association’s “2015 Zero Fatality” campaign. Special thanks to Dick Zampa, Tom Davies, Russell McCrary and Greg McClelland for their efforts to help produce this safety video.