A campaign launched by a coalition of eight industry stakeholders in 2010 comes to a head this week as OSHA officials begin to review responses to the Agency’s Request for Information (RFI) pertaining to reinforcing and post-tensioning safety standards.
“The current standards are antiquated and put Ironworkers in harm’s way on a daily basis,” said Iron Workers General President Walter Wise. “Our response to OSHA’s Request For Information documents the need and solutions for today’s reinforcing industry.”
The Iron Workers and IMPACT released last week a 22-page document including references to specific areas where the standards need updating. According to the Iron Workers, the current reinforcing and post-testing safety standard overlooks or lacks specific information on five specific hazards, including: material handling injuries, structural collapse of vertical formwork and decks, structural collapse of vertical and horizontal columns, impalement by protruding reinforcing steel dowels and post-tensioning equipment.
IMPACT forwarded a copy of the document to more than 350 reinforcing contractors throughout the United States and encouraged them to submit their own responses to OSHA’s RFI.
According to Rank, the goal of providing such a large volume of feedback to the RFI is to encourage OSHA to pursue a formal rulemaking initiative to produce the updated safety standards the industry needs. “Updating these standards would save lives. The Iron Workers are committed to promoting safety throughout the industry, and this is one way to look out for our members.” Without support, OSHA may instead choose to pursue regulatory changes to rules pertaining to backup alarms on trucks.
Iron Workers General President Joseph Hunt, along with representatives from eight other industry organizations, first presented a petition letter to the Assistant Secretary of Labor in 2010 regarding fatalities and accident trends that continue to exist in the reinforcing steel and post-tensioning industry. Following encouragement from the coalition, OSHA shifted its focus to updating reinforcing standards from producing a standard on pneumatic airguns for residential farming.
The coalition includes The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, The Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT), the National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractors (NARSC), Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), Post-Tensioning Institute, Western Steel Council, Department of Reinforcing Ironworkers Advisory Committee and The Center for Construction Research and Training.
Action from the Iron Workers and IMPACT on this issue comes at the height of the Iron Workers’ Countdown to Zero Fatality awareness campaign, a North America-wide initiative which seeks to eliminate Ironworker fatalities, improve safety and training and reduce Contractors’ insurance costs.
A copy of the Iron Workers/IMPACT response to OSHA’s RFI is available here. <include link to pdf version of the document.
About the Iron Workers Union: The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers (IABSO&RIW) was founded in 1896 in Pittsburgh, Penn. They now represent more than 125,000 Ironworkers throughout the United States and Canada. The IABSO&RIW’s mission is to improve the working conditions of its members while promoting constructive relationships with their employers to increase work opportunities.
About IMPACT: The Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT), affiliated with the Iron Workers Union, is a labor-management partnership designed to create work opportunities in the North American ironworking industry. Our primary mission is to provide a forum for Ironworkers and signatory contractors to discuss effective strategies aimed to expand job opportunities through innovative labor-management cooperative programs. IMPACT provides expertise in training, construction certifications, marketing, construction project tracking and bidding, insurance and Davis-Bacon compliance efforts. IMPACT also administers a world-class substance abuse program to ensure that Ironworkers are safe, drug-free and ready to work.