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Aurora OSHA Construction News

July 28, 1998 Vol. 2, Issue 2

  • OSHA affirmed a Willful trenching citation against Ganna Construction in the spring. (OSHRC Docket No. 96-1686) The case originated out of Calumet City office. The company had been cited 11 other times for violations of these same rules.

  • OSHA affirmed a multi-employer citation against Ragnar Benson. (OSHRC Docket No. 97-1676, a Chicago North Area Office case) The issues were floor hole covers not being secured and marked and scaffolding fall protection. The Administrative Law Judge quoted an earlier OSHRC decision in saying:

"The general contractor normally has responsibility to assure that other contractors fulfill their obligation with respect to employee safety which affect the entire site. The general contractor is well situated to obtain abatement of the hazards, either through its own resources or through its supervisory role with respect to other contractors. It is therefore reasonable to expect the general contractor to assure compliance with the standards insofar as all employees on the site are affected. Thus we will hold the general contractor responsible for violations it could reasonably have been expected to prevent or abate by reason of its supervisory capacity."

  • Another consultant misrepresented the facts at an informal conference recently. The compliance officer immediately returned to the site to check out the story, and the hazardous condition was again verified. The company apologized and said it was not their intention to pull that kind of stuff because it made them look bad.
  • We have noticed ankle injuries to electricians trying to correct conduit over bends. Companies should have procedures for their employees to prevent further reoccurrence.

  • In April, an ironworker fell in Brookfield, WI while laying metal deck. He suffered severe back injuries. Another ironworker died in April in Milwaukee, after stepping on a loose piece of steel and falling 21 feet.

  • In February, near Morris, a worker not tied off in an extensible boom aerial lift fell 15 feet and suffered head and back injuries.

  • April was a bad month for workers on bridge jobs. In Rockford, a worker fell when then subdecking fell due to a beam support that was improperly removed. In North Aurora, a worker fell into the Fox River when the subdecking collapsed due to overloading of concrete debris.

  • Inspection Etiquette I: In a recent construction inspection, a foreman told derogatory stories about a certain ethnic group in front in the OSHA inspector. The inspector brought it up to the company's vice-president, because OSHA found this to be inappropriate conduct. Although this is not technically an OSHA issue, it does reveal management attitude toward their workers.
  • Inspection Etiquette II: It's probably not a good idea to verbally attract the attention of the OSHA inspector going to his car when you are not in compliance. A couple of employees joked about the inspector's presence from the top of a roof. The employees then argued about not needing a warning line, which initiated the inspection. The company was issued a citation for the lack of warning lines.
  • One company was saved a potential Willful citation by avoiding the common mistaken thinking of "I'm already in trouble, I will finish the job." They abated a flat roof fall hazard by erecting a warning line and using a crane for hoisting material on a roof. Unsafe conditions must be fixed as soon as possible. The lack of planning or inconvenience to abate a condition is no excuse for letting workers continue to be exposed to serious hazards.

  • In May, a widow of a construction laborer received a $5 million out of court settlement in the death of her husband. He was electrocuted handling a load from a crane that contacted power lines. The accident happened in 1994 in Sleepy Hollow, IL. The subcontractor was cited and affirmed a Willful citation under 1926.550(a)(15)(i). Per a Daily Herald report, the insurers for the utility company, crane operator, construction inspector, and the cited contractor will pay the damages to the widow.

  • In May at DeKalb, a shingler fell 23 feet during tear off on the roof. No fall protection was used. Another violation was the lack of a chute when throwing debris over 20 feet per 1926.252.

  • In July, a trench collapse was reported in Lombard. The trench was approximately 5 feet deep, 36 inches wide. The worker was buried up to his waist and received a dislocated shoulder.

  • In June, we settled a citation for a regional store chain who subcontracted their own construction work. The issue of multi-employer responsibility was investigated and not found to apply in this case. This company exercised no safety authority, had no trade labor, never resolved safety disputes, and had minimal presence on-site. The company accepted a citation to develop an accident prevention program with hazard recognition training for their superintendents who were on-site only to check the progress and quality of the job.

  • We have seen a problem with qualified electricians working on 110-480 volts without wearing protective gloves or using insulated mats. 1926.416 and 417 require that protection be used to avoid contact with live electrical parts. The most common fatality is an electrician who contacts live 277 volt flourescent lighting circuits while changing a ballast. Trimming out a panel, replacing fuses, wiring motor controllers, and testing live electrical circuits with a multi-meter are other areas that need protection.

  • In July, the Justice department indicted the foreman and superintendent of a steel erection company for obstruction of justice in an OSHA investigation. There was a fall fatality that occurred the previous year in Ohio. Foreman, Ronald Creighton of LeMaster Steel Erectors plead guilty to one count of making a false statement. He told OSHA that safety cables were in place during roof decking operation when the worker fell to his death. Mr. Creighton could face up to six months in jail. The Cincinnati Enquirer has been providing reporting of the case. "LeMaster could be fined $500,000 on each of the four counts if convicted for a total of $2 million."

  • In 1997, Illinois construction fatalities dropped from 38 in 1996 to a low of 21. This is the second lowest year for Illinois since 1980. Only 1991's 18 deaths was lower. In 1997, OSHA conducted more construction inspections than in each of the previous five years.

  • Safety paid for a company working off a swing stage scaffold in Oak Brook. The scaffold motor failed leaving two employees suspended by their safety harnesses in mid air. The Oak Brook Fire Department had the workers down in 15 minutes.

  • We have included our recent industrial hygiene sampling for construction. Hopefully, we can build a data base of exposures in three years. We are noticing noise problems in several areas. Hearing loss is compensable by the Illinois Industrial Commission. We are continuing our Lead and Silica Emphasis Programs.

  • Cover your floor openings! A Chicago area safety consultant was conducting training at a hotel and stepped into an inadequately protected floor electrical box, falling and incurring multiple fractures of the left wrist.

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

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

The next issue should be out by Mid-November 1998.
Most Frequently Cited Serious Construction Standard

Aurora Area Office





No guardrails on scaffolds



Deficient accident prevention program



Deficient safety training



No fall protection over 6 feet



Unprotected rebar or using plastic caps


5 (a)(1)

General duty clause



No baseplates and mudsill for scaffolds



No fall arrest worn in aerial lifts


1926.501 (b)(10)

No fall protection for flat roofing


1926.451 (b)(1)

Not fully decking scaffold levels

Comments about the most frequently cited items

  • Scaffold guardrails - Most of the exposures have been at the 13-18 foot height involving plasterers, masons, and carpenters.

  • Accident prevention program - Canned safety programs still are a source of problems. One program contradicted itself with the forms that were supposed to be completed for site inspections. Another simply copied OSHA rules verbatim. Of course, employees and foreman had no knowledge of the requirements in the program.

  • Safety training - Hiring new employees and not giving them any basic hazard recognition and avoidance orientation before assigning work at heights has been the common problem lately.

  • Fall protection - We have seen a resurgence of commercial buildings of 2-3 stories where this is a problem.

  • Rebar protection - This seems to be a problem lately with sites run by an out of state construction manager. This is a common multi-employer citation where the construction manager has contractual responsibility for overall site safety.

  • General duty clause - We have cited failing to lockout a pressurized pipe. Another was not having adequate confined space signs and procedures for a sludge pit under construction at a sewage treatment plant. We have cited the current ANSI B30.5 for crane deficiencies such as inadequate support for crane outriggers.

  • Baseplates/mudsill - Putting a metal scaffold leg on a wooden mudsill is not acceptable. Baseplates must be used. We have seen scrap plywood used as mudsill and even legs with nothing under them. More of the problems were noted in the winter.

  • Aerial lift fall arrest - A common source of drive-by inspections. Electrical contractors have been the most common trade cited.

  • Flat roof fall protection - Lack of warning flags on the roof is the source of the citations and inspections. Many companies have the wrong impression that only a monitor is required for a large roof.

  • Scaffold decking - This is often found with scaffolds missing guardrails. Access levels must be fully planked.

Most Frequency Penalized Serious Construction Standard

Aurora Area Office





Inadequately braced masonry wall



Unsafe trench



Unsafe access to scaffold



Conductors subject to physical damage



No fall protection on open sides



No fall protection on flat roofs



No fall protection steep roof



General duty clause


1926.451 (g)(1)

No guardrails on scaffolds

Comments about the most penalized items

  • Masonry wall bracing - Walls 16-22 feet with no bracing accounted for most of these citations. These were mainly 8 inch block walls grouted every 36-42 inches and were reinforced with #5 rebar. We are seeing the two 16 foot planks method used unsuccessfully.

  • Unsafe trench - Most of the trenches are 100% off the required sloping for the soil classification. We are seeing "8 hour competent persons" supervise work in these trenches. This is not acceptable. Many of these competent persons are not testing the soil at all.

  • Scaffold access - Climbing "walk through" frames is the source of many of these citations. The horizontal spacing is 22 inches or more.

  • Conductors - We have seen open conductors and nonmetallic cable (Romex) run as wiring from electrical panel boxes to outlets on construction sites. Those wiring methods must be elevated 7 feet and protected from physical damage. We are seeing these lying on the ground and run over.

  • Fall protection open sides - Areas where loading and unloading is a problem most noted on a commercial site. The exposing contractors must not let his employees be subject to a fall off the open side.

  • Fall protection flat roofs - Most of these contractors have been inspected by OSHA in the past. They often have the old roofing rules in them, not the 1995 fall protection rules.

  • Fall protection steep roof - Most of these are two story houses under construction with a 6:12 slope and a eave of 18 feet. Slide guards can be used to comply with requirement.

  • General duty clause - see most cited items.

  • Scaffold guardrails - see most cited items.

Most Frequency Cited Serious Construction Standards






No fall protection on walking/walking surfaces



No hard hats



No guardrails on scaffolds



Unsafe excavation



Deficient employee training



Unsafe scaffold access



No certification for fall protection training



Scaffold not fully planked



Ladder not extending 3 feet above landing



No fall protection for flat roofs

SICs Involved in 1997 Illinois Construction Fatalities

Number of

SIC Inspections Fatalities Description of SIC

1521 25 0 General Contractors - Single Family Homes
1522 63 0 General Contractors - Other Residential Building
1531 0 0 Operative Builders
1541 47 0 General Contractors - Industrial Buildings
1542 263 2 General Contractors - Commercial Buildings
1611 14 1 Highway Contractors
1622 29 1 Bridge Construction Contractors
1623 75 0 Water, Sewer, Underground Construction
1629 27 0 Other Heavy Construction
1711 81 2 Mechanical Contractors
1721 48 1 Painting Contractors
1731 50 1 Electrical Contractors
1741 223 1 Mason Contractors
1742 86 0 Plastering Contractors
1743 1 0 Terrazzo Contractors
1751 82 1 Carpentry Contractors
1761 164 5 Roofing and Siding Contractors
1771 36 1 Concrete Contractors
1781 1 0 Water well Drilling Contractors
1791 62 1 Steel Erectors
1793 27 0 Glazing Contractors
1794 27 0 Site Clearing - Grading Contractors
1795 23 2 Demolition Contractors
1796 10 0 Elevator Contractors
1799 55 2 Special Trade Contractor

  • The state more than doubled its painting contractor inspections from 19 to 42. Masons went from 101 to 223. Carpenters went from 30 to 82. Concrete went from 11 to 36. Ironworkers went from 32 to 62. Site clearing went from 10 to 27.

  • The state lowered its construction fatalities from 37 fatalities to 21. This is the second lowest year since 1980.

1997 Illinois Construction Accident Causes

Falls 8
roof openings 3
water tower 1
residential floor opening 1
I-beam (steel erection) 1
Ladder jack scaffold 1
Metal folding ladder collapse 1

Struck by 7
hit by vehicle traffic 1
construction trailer overturned 1
generator when sling broke 1
masonry wall collapse 1
falling piece of concrete 1
falling I-beam off a front end loader bucket 1
struck in chest by a back hoe 1

Electrocutions 6
metal gutter hit power line 2
highway equipment hit power line 1
metal ladder hit power line 1
electrocuted by metal ladder energized by a trouble light 1
contacted live wires in a basement crawl space 1

Confined Space 0

Burns 0

Residential Construction Roofing/Shingling Inspection

These are common programs that an OSHA inspector may look at during a FALL LEP inspection. Common hazards normally found are also listed.

Programs to be reviewed:

1. General safety and health rules
2. Fall protection plan
3. Inspection program and records
4. Training program & records
5. Disciplinary action procedure & records

Expected Hazards:

1. Fall protection on the roof - Are slide guards used? Are there any roof openings?

2. Scaffolding - pump jack, ladder jack, tubular welded frame scaffolds may be used to lay starter row of shingles. Is proper fall arrest or guardrails used?

3. Ladders/stairs/windows - Where is access to roof? Is ladder secured, 3 foot above roof eave?

4. Electrical - Are tools grounded? Are GFCIs used? Are power lines nearby?

5. PPE - Are hard hats worn on the ground? Is fall arrest worn without knot?

6. Material handling - What is the method to get shingles up on roof?

7. Hand & power tools - Is there a safety device on the nailers?

8. Insufficient anchorages - are four nails holding fall arrest bracket?

9. Insufficient employee training - When was training last conducted? What was covered? Have the fall protection requirements been covered? Is the certification of training available?

10. Is a chute needed for debris?

11. Housekeeping - Are there boards with nails on the ground?

Some Training Observations in 1998

Employee training is required under several standards. We have seen several trainers this year and some could use polishing in their delivery. These are some of the common problems noted during the last few months.

Trainers Don't Say

  • "I'm going to wing it" (Kiss of death for a trainer, shows unpreparedness)

  • "Yada, yada, yada" repeatedly (Once is funny, multiple is a bad Seinfeld episode. Is the trainer fumbling or bored?)

  • "Blah, blah, blah" repeatedly. (See above)

  • "We wanted this training to be informal, but the room is too big" (Already the training expectations are lowered)

  • "The room setup doesn't lend itself to training" (So why are we here?)

  • "I don't know how to turn on the overhead projector" (The trainer should have practiced beforehand)

Visual Aid Problems

  • Students cannot read overheads due to distance, size of type, or lighting. (Size of type is remedied by using larger type. Lighting can be overcome by giving student a copy of the overheads. Distance can sometimes be solved with larger type and giving copies of the overheads.)

Organization Problems

  • Attendees/student usually want a copy of the trainers overhead. (Some trainers flip through overheads so quickly that students cannot write notes on this important subject)

  • Not enough copies of handouts (Sometimes this is not the trainers fault, but planning for 10% extra is normal)

  • Not supplying paper if you expect students to take notes.

  • Breaks should be approximately every 60-90 minutes for adults. (60 minutes is recommended after morning coffee and after lunch. Tell students the break schedule so they don't start walking out to go to the bathroom)

    Training Technique Problems

    • Ask for input at the start of the presentation, but then tell class to wait to the end of the 90 minute presentation for questions. (This is mixed signals, unless the class is over 50 people, questions during the presentation is expected)


    • Could your audience pass a quiz on your subject at the conclusion of your presentation?

    Competent Person - Excavation Quiz

    Since we have seen the "competent person" get hurt in excavation cave-ins, this quiz may help your company evaluate the proficiency of the designated "competent person".

    • Are all trenches excavations?

    • An excavation does not become a trench if its bottom width exceeds _____ .

    • Safe means of egress must be provided in trenches that are ____ feet or more in depth.

    • A trench that is 100 feet long needs _____ means of egress if workers are located every 10 feet in the trench.

    • Name at least two acceptable means of egress for a trench.

    • What is the slope for Class "D" soil?

    • What is the slope for Class "A" soil?

    • Which has the smaller particle diameter? Sand, silt, or clay.

    • Type "C" soil usually will not contain a large amount of? Sand, silt, or clay.

    • A cubic foot of dirt weighs approximately _____ lbs.

    • A competent person must conduct _____ manual tests and _____ visual test before employees are allowed in an excavation?

    • Name at least two manual soil tests.

    • Which manual test determines the % of sand in a soil?

    • Ladders used for access into a trench must extend ____ feet above the grade.

    • Name at least two pieces of construction equipment that can create a superimposed load when working adjacent to an excavation?

    • An excavator can approach a 7,200 volt line within ____ feet.

    • Name at least three confined space hazards that could occur in an excavation.

    • At what depth must a professional engineer determine a sloping/shoring/protective system?

    • A gasoline boring machine in an excavation emits what toxic gas?

    • What is the lowest acceptable % of oxygen allowed in a trench?

    • At what height is fall protection required for vertical excavation such as shafts?
    • An excavation in a cornfield can pose what toxic gas hazard?

    • A trench box can be _____ feet above the bottom of an excavation.

    • The swing radius of an excavator can be protected by _________.

    • Tabulated data for an engineered trench box must be kept by the company at _______.

    • A contractor makes end cave-in protection out ½ inch steel plate to attach to an Efficiency trench box. What documents are required?

    • A trench is 8 feet deep, 20 feet long, 10 feet wide in Type A soil. What size of wood shoring is acceptable for the whalers, cross brace and uprights? Use Douglas fir guidelines.

    • A trench 7 feet deep, Type B soil, 4 feet wide, 30 feet long, needs vertical aluminum shores with a maximum horizontal spacing of _____ feet.

    • Refresher training in excavation must be every _____ years.

    • Name five underground installations that may be encountered in the area of an excavation.

    • Name at least two surface encumbrances that may be hazardous to employees in a trench.

    • What is the purpose of a stop log for a front end loader dumping gravel in a trench?

    • Soil which has water freely seeping is Type ____.

    • Can manual testing be foregone if the soil is presumed to be Type C?

    • Who must approve a shoring system where the excavation is below the foundation of an existing building?

    • Describe a scenario where a protective system would be required for a 4 foot deep trench.

    • Previously disturbed soil is classified as either Type ___ or ___.


    • Yes.
    • 15 feet. See trench definition in .650.

    • 4 feet. See 651(c)(2).

    • 2. Put at the 25 foot and 75 foot interval.

    • Ramp, ladder, or stairway. See 651 (c)(2)

    • There is no such slope. (Two "competent persons" have said this in the past year though)

    • 3/4 to 1. One exception for short term, less than eight feet deep at ½ to 1.

    • Clay will pass through a #200 sieve, others will not.

    • Clay is cohesive and generally Type C will not contain a large amount of clay.

    • 100-150 lbs. Many use 114 pounds as an average.

    • 1, 1. See Appendix A, paragraph (c)(2).

    • Plasticity, Dry Strength, Thumb Penetration, Drying test, Penetrometer. Appendix A, paragraph D.

    • There is a sedimentation test involving water, but this not listed in the Appendix.

    • Three. 1053(b)(1).

    • Excavator, Dump truck, etc...

    • 10 feet. 600 (a)(6)

    • 1a) Soil has high organic content (Use USDA soil survey criteria of more than 4% organic content by volume). Decomposing soil of this type can generate high levels of carbon dioxide; 1b) Soil has methane pockets (Hydrogen Sulfide in certain locales); 2a) Area is in a high traffic area.. Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air and could settle in the low areas. Carbon Monoxide, although not heavier than air, is a toxic byproduct of combustion engines.; 2b) Use of diesel/gasoline equipment in the space. OSHA has seen boring machine emit 300 ppm of carbon monoxide in an excavation. 3) Use of chemicals in the space. Solvents from waterproofing compounds/pipe sealers have been past causes of fatalities. 4a) Adjacent to gas main or a landfill. Gases from both are hazardous. 4b) Connecting to or next to a live sewer main. Gases can travel down or upstream of the confine space. 5) Space has left been alone for a long period of time. Anything from underground gases, chemical off-gassing, and oxygen depletion through oxidation can occur in the confined space.

    • 20 feet. Table B-1, note #3.

    • Carbon monoxide.

    • 19.5%. 1926.651 (g)(1)(ii)

    • 6 feet. 1926.501 (b)(7)

    • Organic soil has decomposed creating carbon dioxide. OSHA investigated a fatality where carbon dioxide displaced the oxygen in a 20 foot deep excavation. The workers entering the excavation died of asphyxia.

    • 2 feet. 1926.652 (g)(2)

    • Barricading or flagging the area. Citations under the general duty clause are possible if counterweight can crush an employee.

    • Their location. It must be available to OSHA. 1926.652(c)(2)(iii)

    • Documents must follow section 1926.652 (c)(3) which requires a professional engineer's approval.

    • Table C-2.1 is chosen. 4x4 cross braces can be with a horizontal spacing of up to 6 feet and a vertical spacing of 4 feet. Wales would not be required. 4x6 uprights must be used with a maximum horizontal spacing of 6 feet.

    • Table D - 1.2 is used. Per the table, shores would be spaced every 8 feet.

    • No requirement for refresher training. Many companies in Illinois are doing it every two years.

    • Telephone cables, gas lines, water pipe, sewer lines, and electrical lines to name a few

    • Trees, rocks, stored pipe, utility poles, storage tanks, etc.

    • So that the front end loader does not drive into the trench or approach so close as to create a superimposed load on the bank and collapse the side.

    • C. Appendix A - Type C Definition (iii).

    • Yes. There is no worse soil than C. Visual examination would have still have to be performed.

    • A registered professional engineer. 1926.651(i)(2)(iii)

    • We have seen employees lying on their side to weld in a vertical trench. This is one scenario.

    • Type B or C. Appendix B definition, section (iii). It would need to meet one of the five definitions in Type C to be classified lower than Type B.

    Recent Industrial Hygiene Sampling in Construction by the Aurora office

    Silica Date Minutes % Si Exposure PEL Process

    Sampled mg/M3 mg/M3

    3/26 75 0 0.12 5 Wet cutting of bricks
    3/30 197 4.2 0.45 1.61 Handsaw - hose wetting down blade 3/30 402 3.0 .502 2.0 Vehicle jackhammer Wet - hose -Inside
    3/30 363 7.5 .267 1.05 Shoveling - near jackhammer inside 4/14 270 8.4 .40 .98 Jack hammering - outside
    4/14 406 7.4 1.04 1.06 Jack hammering - outside The wet process is effective is reducing silica levels as shown in the first three processes.

    Lead Date Minutes Exposure Potential Process Sampled µg/M3 TWA µg/m3 for 8hr 4/14 176 6970µg/m3 19,000µg/m3 Abrasive blasting 8% lead paint 4/14 207 990 µg/m3 2300 µg/m3 Abrasive blasting 8% lead paint The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit for lead is 50 µg/m3 average for an 8 hour day.

    Noise Date Minutes Exposure Process Sampled Dose % 3/30 315 43.2 (87dbA) hand saw cutting 3/30 186 158 (100.9) Walking saw 3/30 401 129 (93) DH-500 vehicle -jackhammer 3/30 377 105 (92) Employee in area of jackhammer 4/14 350 503 (102) Jackhammer/cutting 4/14 403 670 (103) Jack hammering 4/14 388 504 (102) Concrete cutting operation 6/2 340 136.8 (92.3) Jack Hammer Operator 6/2 340 62 (86.5) Jack hammer operator 6/4 115 216 (95.6) Abrasive blasting Operator 6/4 115 202 (95.1) Abrasive blasting helper 6/13 45 27.2 (82.5) Slab cutting - wet 6/24 147 17.1 (77.1) Block cutting wet 6/24 129 17.4 (77) Brick cutter helper A dose of more than 100% is above the OSHA occupational noise exposure limit.


Original articles © WorkCare™; Orange, California.