Volume 44, Issue 2 - February 2009

Safety

Labor Bureau Says Construction Sites See Drop in Nonfatal Injuries

According to survey results from the Department of Labor (DOL), construction workplaces may be on their way to becoming safer environments. The DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2007 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses reported that construction industry nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses decreased to 5.4 per 100 workers in 2007 compared to 5.9 in 2006. As a whole, nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers in 2007 occurred at a rate of 4.2 cases per 100 full-time workers—a decline from 4.4 cases in 2006.

While the survey results did not go into specific construction industry segments, some contract glaziers, such as Danny Davis, vice president and chief operating officer of Arrow Glass & Mirror in Austin, Texas, agree that workplaces are becoming safer.

“I believe that the increased volume of work over the last five years and also the added safety awareness has created an economic opportunity to train employees better,” Davis says. “In contrast to five years ago, everyone who is a major player in the glazing industry has documented safety programs and guidelines.”

William Carter, vice president of sales for Carter Glass Co. in Kansas City, Mo., says while his company hasn’t necessarily experienced a decline as reported by the BLS, he does see it as very possible due to the safety training that’s required on larger projects. 

“General contractors are staffing projects with a safety inspector and mandated minutes from weekly meetings for safety programs,” says Carter. “These declines will help in the workers compensation insurance rates if they are passed through.”

Craig Carson, vice president of A1 Glass Inc. in Denver, notes “We have taken the steps to have a full-time safety manager coordinating the safety program and invested in new types of equipment to help with installing product that helps eliminate some of the physical stress on our glaziers. We also conduct weekly jobsite safety meetings and walk the projects to look for any areas that need to be addressed.” 

As projects become more complicated, too, increased safety and awareness is needed. 

“As the architect’s glazing designs have become more unconventional and construction mangers have an increasingly more aggressive schedule, the need for an even more comprehensive safety program increases,” says Pat Merryweather, safety director of Vos Glass Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. Merryweather adds, “Over the last five years our safety program has evolved to a greater universal approach from the owners to the glaziers. Bottom line, we have seen an improvement in our corporate safety statistics because we spend more resources on safety than ever before.” ❙❙➤ www.bls.gov

Cardinal Glass Tumwater Location Fined for Safety Violations

Cardinal Glass Industries’ Tumwater, Wash., plant was cited and fined a total of $3,500 for two serious safety violations ($1,750 for each violation) that allegedly led to the death of Christopher Benson, a 23-year-old employee who was killed while working at the plant on August 18 (see October 2008 USGlass, page 50). Eileen Fischer, a representative for the Department of Labor and Industries, told USGlass that the citations related to the steps that lead up to the air table where the employee fell.

“The steps didn’t meet the safety code requirements for stair width, angle and height of the risers,” Fischer said.

According to the Citation and Notice of Assessment issued to Cardinal Glass by the State of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries, the minimum width requirement for the stairs is 22 inches. The assessment noted that at the time of the inspection the width of the stairs was 16 10⁄16-inches wide.

The Citation and Notice of Assessment also pointed out that the stairs used to assess the air table were not installed “at angles to horizontal of between 30 degrees and 50 degrees, with a maximum of 9 ½ inch risers.” The inspection found the stairs in use installed at 57 ½ degrees with the first riser at 15 ½ inches and the second riser at 15 inches.

Representatives from Cardinal Glass Industries declined to comment.

USG
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