November 2015

Does Your Workplace Make Safety a Function of Company Operations?

The Safety and Health Department reviews incident trends involving members throughout the United States and Canada to identify contributing factors and methods to prevent reoccurrence. With the continued support and resources of General President Eric Dean, the International Associations’ Zero Fatality & Incident Campaign challenges all members to SEE SOMETHING! SAY SOMETHING! and intervene to prevent unsafe conditions and unsafe acts in the workplace. Many of the fatalities and disabling injuries affecting our members continue to stem from the same common activities and hazards. There is a distinct difference in safety performance and zero injury outcomes between large industrial projects and commercial projects. This article emphasizes the primary deadly dozen activities and hazards for field and shop operations, and our focus to prevent workplace incidents.


Field Operations:
• Falls due to unprotected or inadequate floor opening covers.
• Overloading and collapse of unsecured open web steel joists.
• Lack of fall protection and inadequate use of fall arrest equipment.
• Falls during installation of floor and roof decking.
• Material handling during steel erection and reinforcing steel activities.
• Column collapse due to anchor bolt failure and/or insufficient concrete strength.
• Structural collapse of unsupported reinforcing steel columns, walls and decks.
• Struck-by injuries from falling fall objects, tools and equipment. 
• Caught-between injuries during hoisting and rigging operations.
• Impalement from unprotected reinforcing dowels or other vertical projections.
• Electrical hazards and injuries from high-voltage power lines.
• Heat illness and toxic exposure to chemicals and airborne contaminants. 


Shop Operations:
• Exposure to toxic welding fumes that create serious health hazards. 
• Striking hazards during material handling, loading and unloading trucks.
• Dismemberment pertaining to machine guarding of shear presses, punch presses and other equipment.
• Rigging failure and use of chains, slings, plate dogs and other rigging equipment.
• Hazards pertaining to use of overhead rail cranes, gantry cranes and other cranes.
• Hazards pertaining to use of forklifts and my jacks.
• Exposure to toxic paints and chemicals through inhalation and skin absorption.
• Exposures to airborne metals, dust and compounds during grinding and hot work operations. 
• Electrical hazards, de-energizing equipment and lock-out tag-out systems. 
• Improper signals, communication and clearances. 
• Exposure to heat illness and dehydration.
• Lack of protective equipment.


Is your Workplace Safe?

In April of this year, the Safety and Health Department established a safety webcast for contractors and local unions called Establishing Safety Programs & Policies as a Function of Company Operations. This webcast highlights some of the fundamental safety functions that should be implemented in field and shop workplaces. To view this webcast, please visit our websites at ironworkers.org or impact-net.org. The following are some of the safety program initiatives that should be implemented and easily recognized in your workplace.

1. Project Planning-Developing a Job Hazard Analysis and Site Specific Safety Plan
Prior to the erection process, your employer should communicate a list of site specific safety procedures that address potential hazards on the project? Working near power lines, fall hazards, hoisting and rigging considerations and maintaining structural stability are just a few examples of safety issues that should be communicated to you.

2. Designating Qualified & Competent Ironworkers to Perform Specific Safety Functions
Your employer should designate competent and qualified persons in the workplace to perform certain safety functions, such as installation of safety cables and implementing workplace inspections. It is your employer’s responsibility 
to designate these persons. 

3. Employee Safety Training and Instruction
These should be several safety training and instruction topics pertaining to the recognition and avoidance of hazards in the workplace. Some of these topics can be standard company policy and other topics that are specific to hazards in your workplace.

4. Workplace Inspections
Your employer should designate a competent person to perform workplace inspections on a frequent and regular basis. The competent person has the authority of their employer to take corrective action to abate unsafe acts or conditions in the workplace. 

5. Enforcement of Company Safety Policies and Procedures
Any employer safety and health program should require enforcement of company safety policies and procedures to protect all workers on the worksite.

The International Association will continue the Zero Fatality & Incident Campaign to increase safety performance and help protect our members in the field and shop. This goal challenges all members to See Something! Say Something! to help recognize and avoid the deadly dozen activities and hazards during field and shop operations. Jeff Norris, Canadian safety coordinator, and I will continue to work closely with district councils, local unions and IMPACT regional advisory boards throughout the United States and Canada to help improve safety performance. If I can provide any assistance, please contact me at the Safety and Health Department at (800) 368-0105. If you require assistance in Canada, please contact Jeff Norris at (780) 717-0071.