I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who sat near me. Everybody else was mesmerized by their stupid-phones (so called because they make the people carrying them stupid and unaware). This guy was obviously referring to a notebook and filling out forms.
I asked him what he was doing and he was more than ready for a break.
He is an inspector for (MI)OSHA. Forty percent of his job is to visit construction sites, unannounced. Sixty percent of his job is to write up findings and to do re-visits to ensure that issues were addressed.
Construction is his huckleberry. He used to work in the construction trades. He knows his way around a construction site. He knows where the bodies are buried. Unfortunately, in one case, literally. The crew was in a hurry and did not crib a trench. Two guys were trapped. One fatally. It took two hours to extricate the other worker due to issues with stabilizing the "dig" so-as to not jeopardize the EMS crews.
By its nature, construction work is hot-and-cold. When the market heats up, the folks with experience tend to get promoted "up" and the guys throwing hammers and running equipment are rookies. "They don't know what they don't know."
The inspector was very pleased that the last site he visited (eight commercial buildings going up) only had two violations. One was a broken windshield on some industrial equipment...significant enough to impair visibility. The other violation was a generator that did not have a GFI receptical...a big deal when you are standing in mud using electrical power tools.
He would rather that the sites be safe and he did not get writer's cramp.
I asked him if there was just ONE thing that he could tell the ERJ audience, what would it be?
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He responded without hesitation: "Ladder Safety"
- Inspect the ladder before use. Don't use ladders with bad rungs or damaged verticals
- Plan your work-space
- Prop the ladder with a 4:1 vertical:horizontal angle
- Plant the feet.
- If the surface is hard or slick, get a spotter to secure the feet
- Have a minimum of three feet project above the highest work surface (i.e. roof)
- Tie off the upper contact point when appropriate (windy)
- Plan on moving the ladder twice as often as you think. Many accidents occur because of operator over-reach
- Maintain three points of contact at all times. That is, one hand-two feet or two hands-one foot.
- Always look where you are stepping, especially when you are backing up
- Keep your weight centered over the ladder
- Be aware of electrical wires and other electrical hazards.