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Aurora OSHA Construction News

July 9, 1999 Vol. 3, Issue 2

  1. There were 14 construction fatalities in Illinois in calendar year 1998. We have checked the Illinois data back to 1/1/80, and the 1998 total was the lowest in 19 years. Adding to this significance was the high volume of construction projects in 1998. The previous low number of Illinois fatalities was 18 in 1991. We thank the efforts of the contractors, unions, employees, and all safety professionals that made 1998 the safest year yet in Illinois.

  2. Knockout style boxes used at the end of flexible cords are being seen on many inspections. These are not allowed per NEC 300-11(a). The hazard is that the knockout could short across the hot screw and energize the metal box or the hot wire can come undone and energize the box.

  3. Several contractors using GFCI outlet boxes have been found with damaged extension cords and cord connected power tools. The GFCI did not work because the leads were improperly connected, and citations were issued for electrical hazards. The GFCI will only protect people if wired properly and in working order.

  4. We have cited three steel erection companies in the last month under 1926.105(a). The response for noncompliance has been the misconception that exterior falls are 30 feet for multi-story buildings. Several OSHA Review Commissions such as Adam Steel Erection and Williams set precedence in the early 1980's that the 25 foot rule applies to multi-story buildings. The 25 foot rule is in some Ironworker contracts.

  5. We have seen more hazardous flat roofing jobs than anytime in the past ten years. The lack of warning lines and the use of mechanical equipment near the roof edge top the list.

  6. Marking underground utilities has been a repeated problem. We have investigated trenching contractors hitting gas and electric lines, and in some cases it is unclear whether the utilities were mismarked or whether the contractor did not see the markings. JULIE (1-800-892-0123) has a color coding system for utilities:

                   Yellow - gas, oil, or petroleum

                   Red - electric, fire protection

                   Orange - communication, telephone, TV

                   Blue - potable water

                   Green - sewer

  7. Several general contractors have had difficulties with OSHA compliance on their first OSHA visit in construction. We have cited six different companies with 10 or more separate serious violations each. One GC had 21 violations. Generally, the inspections resulted from concerned people bringing photos of the site conditions to our attention.

  8. In March, a laborer narrowly escaped when the seven feet deep vertical wall trench collapsed on him. The Aurora Fire department was able to rescue him quickly as he was only partially covered with soil.

  9. In Belvidere, the Sunday night March winds blew down 40 foot high masonry walls. No bracing was used. Walls of this height must be braced during the construction process.

  10. The new 16 page directive on residential construction is out (STD 3-0.1A). It defines residential, setting the first two trusses, and wall building procedures. It is available on the OSHA home page > library > directives > type in residential as the search word.

  11. Three officials at Lemaster Steel entered guilty pleas that they made false statements to OSHA investigators in what caused the death of a worker in Mason, OH. The charges carry a maximum prison term of five years. The court has not determined the sentence as of this month.

  12. On March 18, 1999, the owner of Protech Construction was sentenced to 12 months incarceration for attempting to bribe an OSHA construction inspector in Illinois. He had been found guilty of two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(1)(a).

  13. The decision in R. P. Carbone Construction vs. OSHRC is the latest in a series of cases to hold a general contractor liable for safety violations of subcontractors, if the violations could have been easily detected and corrected. The superintendent of Carbone was the only person for the company at the site. He relied on the steel erector to comply and did not know the fall requirement for steel erection. The court said the general contractor may rely on the expertise of the subcontractor, but must "apprise itself as to what safety efforts the subcontractor has made." In addition, the court said the violations were in clear view and occurred on a regular basis. The ironworkers had worked for two weeks without fall protection.

If you would like to receive this newsletter via E-mail, contact charlie.shields@aurora.osha.gov. Due to the costs, this cannot be mailed to individual companies.

Comments on the newsletter should be addressed to John Newquist, OSHA 344 Smoke Tree Business Park, North Aurora, IL 60542 or call (630) 896-8700.

Also, for continued service please advise us when your e-mail address changes.

Most Frequently Cited Serious Construction Standards

Aurora Area Office - 10/98 - 6/99

1 5(a)(1) General Duty Clause Lack of fall protection in extensible boom aerial lifts
2 1926.501(b)(1) No fall protection above 6 feet
3 1926.20(b)(1) Deficient accident prevention program
4 1926.451(g)(1) No fall pro on scaffolds
5 1926.652(a)(1) Unsafe trench
6 1926.20(b)(2) No competent person
7 1926.21(b)(2) Deficient safety training
8 1926.1053(b)(1) Ladders not extended 3 feet above landing
9 1926.501(b)(10) No fall pro on low-slope roofs
10 1926.501(b)(4)(I) No fall pro for skylights above 6 feet

Comments about the most frequently cited:

Aerial lift fall pro - Over half were no fall pro in the extensible boom aerial lifts.

Six foot fall pro - Cited for open sided floors missing guardrails.

Accident prevention program - First time employers without any programs account for the majority of these items.

Scaffold fall pro - Usually cited for mason contractors working three sections high on welded frame scaffolds.

Unsafe trench - Some vertical walls as deep as 14 feet were cited.

Competent person - Cited at many first time OSHA inspections. Usually the person in charge does no site inspections.

Safety training - Cited at many first time OSHA inspections. It follows lack of programs and competent person .

Ladders extending three feet - Many of these have been access to roof where the ladder is only a few inches above the landing.

Low slope roof fall pro - Lack of warning lines comprises the majority of these citations.

Skylight fall pro - This is usually flat roofers working adjacent to skylights with mechanical equipment. Skylights are not designed as load bearing equipment.

Most Penalized Serious Construction Standards

Aurora Area Office - 10/98 - 6/99

1 1926.501(b)(3) $17,342 No fall pro above 6 feet in hoist areas
2 1926.501(b)(10) $13, 763 No fall pro on flat roofs
3 1926.651(c)(2) $10,767 No means of egress from trench
4 1926.651(k)(1) $10,417 No competent person for excavations
5 1926.21(b)(2) $ 7,550 Deficient safety training
6 1926.652(a)(1) $ 5,775 Unsafe trench
7 1926.501(b)(1) $ 2,308 No fall pro above 6 feet
8 5(a)(1) $ 2,308 General Duty Clause
9 1926.1053(b)(1) $ 1,640 Ladders not extended 3 feet above landing
10 1926.20 (b)(1) $ 1,260 Deficient Safety Program

Minimum of three citations were issued. Penalties reflect size, good faith and history discounts.

Comments about most penalized

Hoist area fall pro - Many roofers are not putting up guardrails in areas where hoisting is occurring. Roofers that comply have been using counterweighted guardrails.

Flat roof fall pro - Penalty is high due to company citation history and Willful classification for many.

Trench egress - Many trenches were over 7 feet deep and did provide for egress in the event of a trench collapse or other emergency.

Trench competent person - Many had trenching safety in the early 1990's and their knowledge of soil evaluation is eroding. The most recent example is a contractor telling us that the site had Class D soil. Class D soil didn't exist in the early 1990s, either.

Deficient safety training - See most cited.

Unsafe trench - Some of the problems have been with trenches 16 feet deep and only one box is used. This creates a cave-in into the box itself.

Six feet fall pro - See most cited.

General Duty Clause - See most cited.

Ladder extending three feet - See most cited.

Deficient safety program - See most cited.

Most Frequently Cited Serious Construction Standards

Nationwide -10/1/98 - 5/15/99

1 1926.501(b)(1) No fall pro above 6 feet
2 1926.100(a) No hard hats
3 1926.652(a)(1) Unsafe trench
4 1926.451(g)(1) No fall pro on scaffolds
5 1926.451(e)(1) No ladder access on scaffolds
6 1926.21(b)(2) Deficient safety training
7 1926.503(a)(1) Deficient fall pro training program
8 1926.451(b)(1) Scaffolds not fully planked
9 1926.454(a) Inadequate scaffold safety training
10 1926.501(b)(10) No fall pro on flat roofs

Aurora 5(a)(1) Citations Issued - 10/98 - 6/99

No fall pro in extensible boom aerial lifts (most frequently cited) - we are looking for body harness to be worn by employees.

Overloaded extensible boom aerial lift - We are finding three employees in a basket designed for two employees or 500 pounds.

Working from guardrail on extensible boom aerial lift - employees standing on the guardrails.

No fall pro on scissor lift - usually this is missing chains at the gate entry.

Working from guardrail on scissor lift - usually this occurs because the lift cannot reach the work area.

No egress from multilevel building - We use the NFPA code 241 for the basis of the citation. This code applies for construction work. It requires means of egress via stair on multi-story construction work.

Improper load by rough terrain forklift - Mortar tub was carried by the ends of the rough terrain forklift fork tips vs. centered in the back of the forks.

No fall pro during tower climbing - cited for climbing a 100 foot tower without any fall protection or equivalent.

Employee standing on ladder placed in pickup truck bed/No lockout of pickup truck to prevent start up - Cited due to hazard of truck being driven away.

No lockout of 80 psi water pipe - Employees were on a ladder and pressure could have knocked them off if the water valve was turned on.

Wooden trusses not braced according to Truss Plate Institute - Lack of diagonal supports is most common problem found.

Ineffective safety and health program - cited store owner as a construction manager.

Confined spaces not marked. - Cited for a sewage pump vault under construction.

No backup alarm on excavator - Cited for a crawler styler excavator with a 42 inch bucket.

1998 Illinois Construction Fatality Causes

Falls 6
From sloped roof 1
Through skylight into empty swimming pool 1
Through stair opening 1
From steel decking 1
From bucket elevator leg 1
From ladder 1

Struck By 5
Pinned underneath crane due to tipover 1
Struck by crane boom and load due to tipover 1
Struck by dump truck in reverse 1
Struck by materials while post tensioning 1
Struck by falling roofing materials 1

Electrocutions 3

Dump truck bed struck power line, employee contacted live cab 1
Employee working with energized transformer, no insulated gloves worn 1
Employee contacted energized refrigerator while installing residential air conditioner 1


SICs Involved in 1998 Illinois Construction Fatalities

Number of

SIC Inspections Fatalities Description of SIC

1521 20 1 General Contractors - Single Family Homes
1522 42 0 General Contractors - Other Residential Buildings
1531 9 0 Operative Builders
1541 28 0 General Contractors - Industrial Buildings
1542 247 0 General Contractors - Commercial Buildings
1611 28 2 Highway Contractors
1622 18 1 Bridge Construction Contractors
1623 53 0 Water, Sewer, Underground Construction
1629 18 1 Other Heavy Construction
1711 54 1 Mechanical Contractors
1721 37 0 Painting Contractors
1731 49 2 Electrical Contractors
1741 158 0 Mason Contractors
1742 33 0 Plastering Contractors
1743 3 0 Terrazzo Contractors
1751 62 0 Carpentry Contractors
1761 159 2 Roofing and Siding Contractors
1771 22 0 Concrete Contractors
1791 39 2 Steel Erectors
1793 8 1 Glazing Contractors
1794 52 0 Site Clearing - Grading Contractors
1795 16 0 Demolition Contractors
1796 10 1 Elevator Contractors
1799 66 0 Special Trade Contractors

Silica Dust Exposures from OSHA Construction Inspections in the Chicago Area


Information is drawn from an analysis of 82 inspections from the three Chicagoland OSHA area offices. 59 inspections had personal air sampling for a total of 136 employee air samples. This summary is condensed from a 57 slide PowerPoint presentation which has more detail on the operations.

Note that conclusions on exposures and respirators are based on limited numbers of samples and represent available info as of 2/1999. Conclusions are those of the author and have not received official agency review.

PEL = Permissible Exposure Limit

Heavy Construction Silica Dust Summary

Operation #Samples Likely Exposure Likely Resp Noise

Jackhammer dry 17 at PEL half mask 102-103

Jackhammer wet* 3 ? half mask

Concrete saw dry 4 > PEL half mask

Concrete saw wet 4 < PEL --

Lateral drill 9 > PEL half mask 97-104

Vermeer saw** 3 ? > PEL ? 96

Bobcat concrete 1 < PEL --

Shovel concrete 4 < PEL --

* Wet jackhammering overexposures occurred because no wetting was done on part of the project and the area was indoors/confined by a plastic containment.

**Vermeer saw overexposures are believed to be due to inadequate water spray due from clogged water line. Vermeer saw water tanks need regular treatment to prevent algae growth.

Masonry Silica Dust Summary

Operation #Samples Likely Exposure Likely Resp Noise

Tuckpointing 35 >> PEL full face* 92-106 or air line

Tuckpoint w/ vent 2 at PEL half mask

Block saw dry 9 > PEL half mask 92-93

Block saw wet 5 < PEL --

Brick saw dry 1 > PEL half mask

Brick saw wet 1 < PEL --

Stone cut dry 2 < PEL --

(stone was nonsilica "Renaissance" manufactured stone)

* Tuckpointing has consistently been the highest silica exposure in construction. Full shift silica exposures will typically range from 10X to 50X the Permissible Exposure Limit, which will require at least full face mask air purifying respiratory protection. Exposures can easily go above 50X the PEL, and at these levels air line respirators are needed. A work group to evaluate/develop engineering control measures is being put together.

Crossover/Special Operations Silica Dust Summary

Operation #Samples Likely Exposure Likely Resp Noise

Sandblaster 4 >> PEL blast resp 96-104

Sandblast potman 1 > PEL half mask 91

Abrasive blaster 7 > PEL blast resp

Abrasive potman 5 < PEL --

Sweep 5 can be > PEL half mask

Ceiling seam grind 1 > PEL half mask

Grind floor w/ vent 1 > PEL half mask

Tunneling (no silica) 4 < PEL --

Citation Summary

1.Overexposure/engineering controls

2. Correct respirator/respirator program

3. Silica hazard training

4. Hearing conservation program/protection

5. Silica safety program

6. Lead exposure (in tuckpointing and blasting)

Basic Conclusions

1. Dry operations: High likelihood of silica dust overexposure

2. Wet operations: Low potential for silica dust overexposure

3. Exposures are greatly increased by factors such as interior workplaces and confined locations (such as corners), even if control measures are utilized.


Original articles © WorkCare™; Orange, California.