July 2016

Floor and Roof Opening Video Targets: One of the Deadly Dozen Hazards

One of the deadly dozen hazards our members face in the workplace are falls through unprotected floor and roof openings or falls during the removal of floor coverings. Work activities around temporary floor openings and coverings are one of the primary fall hazards that must be recognized and avoided. As part of the 2016 ZERO Fatality-Incident campaign commissioned by General President Eric Dean, the IMPACT board of trustees approved funding to develop a safety video to address the proper installation and removal of floor opening covers. The Safety and Health Department has posted this video on the Iron Workers and IMPACT websites for downloading and use. Additionally, this video has been distributed to all local union training facilities by Lee Worley, executive director of the National Training Fund. Key topics and illustrations covered in floor and roof opening safety video are:

• Recognition of fall hazards from temporary floor openings and ladder-way openings 
• Proper use of hazard access zone and the cone and bar system
• Specific training on installation and use of hazard access zones
• Techniques for safety removal of floor opening covers
• Avoiding a deadly mistake

The photograph below illustrates an unprotected floor opening that can commonly occur during the steel erection process on multi-story or single-story structures. In many cases, it is necessary to remove or leave out decking sheets at/or between columns to perform moment connection welding, bolting and inspection activities.

This fall hazard continues to be one of the deadly dozen hazards that must be recognized and abated to prevent reoccurrence. During the installation of metal floor and roof decking, it is important for all members to recognize potential fall hazards at temporary floor and ladder way openings. Ironworkers must be provided with the appropriate floor opening covers, such as plywood, planking or the cone and bar systems, to provide warning and prevent access.

One of the best practices highlighted in the video illustrates ironworkers on unfinished floors utilizing the Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) and the cone and bar system. This system is quickly installed six feet from the temporary floor opening using high-visibility cones that are connected with extendable rails. There are many advantages to using this system in certain applications. Unlike plywood and planking that is heavier and requires more physical activity, the cones and bars are very light and can help prevent sprain and strain injuries. The photographs above and below illustrate the use of this system between columns and on a roof that has temporary openings where work is being performed.

Prior to using the Hazard Awareness Zone (HAZ) and the cone and bar system, ironworkers must receive instruction on the proper placement of the cones and bars around temporary floor and roof openings. The following photograph illustrates ironworker apprentices from Local 378 (Oakland, California) receiving training from Dick Zampa, apprentice coordinator for the California and Vicinity District Council.

Plywood is commonly used as a temporary floor opening cover and special precautions must be used during the installation and removal of sheets to prevent falls. Ironworkers must be trained on the proper installation and removal techniques to prevent falls through floor openings. The following two photographs illustrate ironworker apprentices from Local 378 being trained on proper techniques during the removal of plywood from a floor opening. 

When plywood is used as a temporary floor opening cover, it must be clearly labeled and meet the strength requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Note: Strength requirements for temporary floor opening covers may vary from the Federal OSHA Subpart M – Fall Protect standard and more stringent requirements that may be contained in state-approved OSHA plans such as Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, and other state OSHA plans.

We continue to challenge all members to See Something! Say Something! to recognize and avoid fall hazards from unprotected floor, roof and ladder way openings. Jeff Norris, Vicki O’Leary and I will continue to work with district councils, local unions and IMPACT regional advisory boards to address workplace safety and health issues. Please contact me in the Safety and Health Department at(800) 368-0108, Jeff Norris, Canadian safety coordinator at (780) 459-4498, or Vicki O’Leary, district representative for safety and diversity at(202) 702-7828, if you have any questions pertaining to the video. Special thanks to Dick Zampa, apprentice coordinator for the California and Vicinity District Council; Tom Davies, safety director for the Herrick Corporation; and Russell McCrary, safety director for the District Council of Ironworkers and California Ironworkers Employer Council, for their efforts to help produce the video.