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Aurora OSHA Construction News

December 1, 1997 Vol. 1, Issue 4

1) The Aurora office may have well found the highest recorded silica exposure in construction. The worker was 822 times the permissible exposure limit while performing tuckpointing in a courtyard.

2) Hard hat use has been a problem this year. Usually this is not in our office' most cited violation, but the last 12 months we have seen several cases of companies not enforcing the hard hat use. We put a summary of some recent hard hat fatalities and successes at the end of this newsletter to serve as a reminder of the need for head protection.

3) The Chicago OSHA offices won their first two E-Z trial cases in construction. Both Trine Construction and A & K Construction were cited for trenching hazards.

4) OSHA investigated a shingler fatality on a residential site in Burr Ridge this fall. No fall protection was used on the two story sloped roof.

5) Accidental contact with power lines continue to be a problem. In Villa Park a construction worker was electrocuted when his ladder struck a power line.

6) In October, an Elgin trench that was 6 ½ feet deep collapsed and fractured the competent person's hip. No cave-in protection was used.

7) In Addison, OSHA is investigating another masonry wall collapse that sent four workers to the hospital. There have now been six collapses this year versus last year's total of five.

8) In Lombard, OSHA is investigating a fall from an aerial lift when it was struck by a vehicle. No fall protection was used.

9) The OSH Review Commission ruled that an unwritten safety rule is inadequate to protect employees from fall hazards. (Secretary of Labor v. Superior Custom Cabinet Co.)

10) We have received calls on slide guard intervals for carpenters and roofers. The interval refers to the vertical distance up the sloped roof before another slide guard is needed.

Carpenters Roofers

Slope 9/12 or less 10/12+ Under 6/12 6/12 - 8/12 8+/12

Interval 13' 4' One per eave 8' feet positive

fall arrest

11) On September 2, 1997, OSHA issued a memo on scaffold erection enforcement for erectors. Per the memo, "OSHA recognizes that there are situations where practical fall protection cannot be provided; however, the burden of showing where those situations exist rest with the employer and must be developed on a case by case basis until the factors common to those case can be identified." To date since September, no citations have been issued in the Chicago area for scaffold erectors not tieing off.

12) One of the largest citations for asbestos in construction was issued to HDR Engineering at the Pittsburgh Airport. The penalty was over 1.3 million dollars. The case is in contest.

13) Our office issued a $162,000 citation to a painting contractor removing lead paint from a water tower. The main issue was not protecting against lead exposures during the abrasive blasting operations.

14) In New York, Victor Diaz was honored for heroism for saving 12 people in a burning building by lowering them down in his construction backhoe. No, OSHA did not cite the employer.

15) A pair of Willful citations were affirmed in November for a mason contractor. The issues were wall bracing and scaffold guardrails.

16) At an informal conference, we had a contractor admit they lied to OSHA during an inspection. Our office withdrew the Expedited Informal Settlement Agreement and the company paid full penalty. The contractor had demonstrated compliance for fall hazards on other inspections, but was apparently trying to hide a potentially bad access ladder on this inspection. The contractor created the illusion of using an aerial lift for access to divert attention from the bad ladder. The aerial lift was probably more unsafe than the bad ladder since they had to climb the guardrails for access. The company agreed to train all current and future employees in the provisions of 17(g) of the OSHA Act. Section 17(g) concerns making false statements and representations to OSHA.

17) We have seen some problems with cranes and other equipment sinking due to inadequate cribbing under the outriggers. Metal outrigger pads can sink rapidly when on grass or gravel surfaces. We have cited this condition under the general duty clause.

18) The Calumet City office is investigating a fall fatality off a flat roof. The worker was stringing Christmas lights when he fell.

19) We have cited tripping hazards on steel beams and decking in steel erection under 25 feet. Welded projections on top of beams are not to be in place until after the steel is erected.

20) Chicago North is investigating a roof fatality where a hoist tipped due to inadequate counterweight. The fall protection standards states that objects such as tanks and felt cannot be used a counterweight.

21) The Chicago land offices have seen a problem with flat roofers using only a safety monitor without warning flags on large roofs more than 6 feet high.

Most Frequently Cited Serious Violation in Construction

from 1/1/97 to 9/30/97 - Aurora OSHA Office

OSHA Standard



1926.20 (b)(1)

Safety programs deficient


1926.451 (g)(1)

No guardrails on scaffolds



Inadequate safety training



Unsafe trench



Unsafe scaffold access



Inadequate or no bracing of masonry walls



Unprotected rebar or plastic rebar caps used



Unprotected openings in floors and roofs



No trench competent person



Various - see next page

Comments about most frequently cited by Aurora OSHA Office.

1) Deficient safety programs - Many of the companies in the last few months have bought canned program (as much as $2000). These are unacceptable if the rules do not prevent past accidents, OSHA citations, near misses, and comp claims. Also, The rules must be covered with the management of the construction company, not just put on the shelf.

2) No scaffold guardrails - This is still the number one source for an OSHA inspection in construction in our office. Plasterers account for many of the citations, but companies using mobile scaffolds are gaining fast.

3) Safety training - The employer cannot take an employee off the street or out of the union hall and not provide some training specific to the work for the new hire. Covering a set of basic company rules is what many companies do to meet this requirement.

4) Unsafe trench - This is unusual because many companies inspected have been around for 10 or more years. Usually, these are 6 ½ feet vertical trench walls.

5) Unsafe scaffold access - Walk-though frames (6 ½ feet high) cannot be climbed because they exceed the 16 ½ inch horizontal distance between "rungs". Per the scaffold preamble, Morgen tower frames now can be climbed.

6) Masonry wall bracing - We are seeing many new mason companies the last three months. Many of these provide no bracing at all. We are performing inspections on these sites if no bracing is observed.

7) Unprotected rebar - Surprisingly, many citations have been issue to general contractors that have $100 million in annual revenue. For same grade falls, plastic mushroom caps are not acceptable when the rebar height is less than 36 inches. Impalement resistant caps are what is required. These are available from the same distributors where mushroom caps can be purchased.

8) Unprotected roof openings - This has been cited for companies other than the roofers recently. These are mechanical, concrete, and sheet metal workers exposed to the opening after the steel deck is complete, but before the roofer has started.

9) Competent person for excavations - A competent person must know how to perform a visual and manual daily test of the soil if they are classifying it as type A or B. An eight-hour competent person card will not exempt a company from this citation if the competent person does know basic fundamentals.

10) We have issued many for using non-vehicle mounted, extensible boom aerial lifts without wearing any fall protection. Also we have cited tripping hazards in steel erection, inadequate truss bracing in residential, and inadequate wall erection in residential.

Highest Penalized Standard in Construction from 1/1/97 to 9/30/97 -Aurora OSHA Office

OSHA Standard



1926.652 (a)(1)

Unsafe trench


1926.501 (b)(1)

No fall protection above 6 feet


1926.706 (b)

Unbraced or inadequately braced masonry wall



No guardrails over 10 feet


1926.251 (e)(2)

Load exceeded capacity of sling


1926.55 (a)

Overexposure to silica


1926.103 (a)(1)

Inappropriate respirator for the silica level


1926.701 (b)

Unprotected rebar or using plastic caps


1926.651 (j)(2)

Excavation spoil less than 2 feet away



Unprotected roof or floor openings

A minimum of three citations were issued in this time period to qualify. These penalties are the average for the last three quarters. These are the final penalty amounts and reflect the discounts for size, history, and good faith given to an employer.

Comments about high penalty items.

1) Unsafe trench - Because the competent person knows the rules and chose not to comply, willful citations have been issued to companies. Aurora did more trenching inspections this year than any time this decade.

2) Fall protection - Most of these are repeat citations in residential construction for no protection on open sided floors.

3) Masonry wall bracing - Because of four deaths in the last 26 months in the Chicago land area, the severity of an unbraced 23 foot wall tends to have an initial penalty of $5000. The reduction given for size and history accounts for the lower amount.

4) No guardrails - Most scaffolds cited are at the 13-19 foot level. Usually most are missing all midrails with 50% missing most top rails. A cross brace cannot be used alone as a top and mid rail.

5) Overloaded sling - We have inspected slings lifting loads over capacity. A competent person must know how to calculate the slings capacity when making picks at an angle (bridle sling lifts). Sharp objects will cut through nylon and polyester slings. Inspection for these hazards must occur before the lift begins.

6) Silica - We are inspecting masons, tuck pointers, precast erectors, highway contractors and others for their exposure to silica. Many companies do not want to conduct any exposure sampling and would rather wait until OSHA does it. This strategy has led to some big surprises; our highest proposed penalty for noncompliance has been $17,000 for a contractor on a first time silica NEP inspection. Conversely, in one instance a masonry contractor fitted their gas saw with a hose for wet cutting, and exposure levels were less than one-tenth the dust standard.

7) Silica respirators - The use of the usual dust masks (technically known as negative pressure half mask respirators) is not acceptable if the silica level is over ten times the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL). Respirators must be selected based on anticipated exposure levels. Uncontrolled dust levels are often more than ten times the silica limit in construction.

8) Unprotected rebar - About 70% had no rebar protection. The rest had used plastic caps.

9) Spoil piles - Many trenches are less than five feet deep. Spoil adds the depth of the trench and may make a four-foot trench to a six-foot one. This is a problem if the soil is Type C.

10) Roof and floor openings - Most of these situations have occurred on warehouse style building. Many general contractors have been cited under the multi-employer policy because the condition existed for days.

Most Frequently Cited Violations in Construction

from 1/1/97 to 09/30/97 - All OSHA Offices Nationally

OSHA Standard




No fall protection over 6 feet



No hard hats



Unsafe excavation



Inadequate safety training



No Guardrails on scaffolds



No fall hazard training program



No GFCI for electrical



No competent person on site



Ungrounded equipment



No written hazard communication program

Construction Companies inspected by the Illinois OSHA offices with the most In Compliance (IC) inspections by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) for FY 97 (10/01/96 to 9/30/97)

SIC Description of SIC: Company # of IC Inspections

1521 General Contractors - Single Family Homes: 5 companies with one IC. (Salamone & Sons, Susberry Construction)
1522 General Contractors - Other Residential Building: 20 with one IC, ( Siciliano, Inc.)
1531 Operative Builders: None
1541 General Contractors - Industrial Buildings: 25 with one IC, (Power Contractors)
1542 General Contractors - Commercial Buildings: Pepper Construction Company (8), Henry Bros. Construction (4).
1611 Highway Contractors: 5 with one IC, (Bouie Construction)
1622 Bridge Construction Contractors: 3 with one IC, (Albin Carlson)
1623 Water, Sewer, Power line, Underground Construction: Pirtano Construction (2), Ameritech (2)
1629 Other Heavy Construction: Walsh Construction (2)
1711 Mechanical Contractors: 23 with one IC, (Northwestern Industrial Piping)
1721 Painting Contractors: 11 with one IC, (Global Construction)
1731 Electrical Contractors: Wm. Masters Electric, Inc. (2)
1741 Mason Contractors: International Tuckpointing (2), Midwest Masonry (2)
1742 Plastering Contractors: 14 with one IC, (Savenok Construction)
1743 Terrazzo Contractors: none
1751 Carpentry Contractors:14 with one IC, (R.L. Sohol)
1761 Roofing and Siding Contractors: Hans Rosenow Roofing (2)
1771 Concrete Contractors: R. A. Bright Construction (2)
1781 Well Digging Contractors: Stache Drilling (1)
1791 Steel Erectors: Area Erectors (3), International Crown Construction(3)
1793 Glazing Contractors: Ace Glass (1), Trapani Construction (1)
1794 Site Clearing - Grading Contractors: 5 with one IC, (Drury Displays)
1795 Demolition Contractors: 10 with one IC, (Burdco/LVI)
1796 Elevator Contractors: 5 with one IC, (CNF Construction)
1799 Special Trade Contractors: Miller's Eureka, Inc. (2)

In case of a tie, the company with the most employees at the site was listed in parenthesis.

Construction Companies inspected by the Aurora OSHA Office with the most In Compliance (IC) by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) for FY 94-97 (10/01/94 to 9/30/97)

SIC Description of SIC: Company # of IC Inspections

1521 General Contractors - Single Family Homes: 1 (Fritz Fuchs)
1522 General Contractors - Other Residential Building: 4 with one IC, (Sundance Homes)
1531 Operative Builders: Remcor, Inc (1)
1541 General Contractors - Industrial Buildings: Turner Construction (3)
1542 General Contractors - Commercial Buildings: Pepper Construction Company (2), Schal Bovis (2)
1611 Highway Contractors: 4 with one IC, (Callaghan Paving)
1622 Bridge Construction Contractors: None
1623 Water, Sewer, Power line, Underground Construction: Dempsey Ing (3)
1629 Other Heavy Construction: J.C. Bosely (2)
1711 Mechanical Contractors: Economy Mechanical (2), Hill Mechanical (2)
1721 Painting Contractors: 4 with one IC, (Kazanas Industrial)
1731 Electrical Contractors: 6 with one IC (Meade Electric)
1741 Mason Contractors: Midwest Masonry (2)
1742 Plastering Contractors: G & J Plastering (2), Stucco System (2), William A. Duguid (2)
1743 Terrazzo Contractors: none
1751 Carpentry Contractors: R.L. Sohol (2)
1761 Roofing and Siding Contractors: Zonac Aluminum Siding (2)
1771 Concrete Contractors: R. A. Bright Construction (2)
1781 Well Digging Contractors: Stache Drilling (1)
1791 Steel Erectors: Area Erectors (4), International Crown Construction (4)
1793 Glazing Contractors: Trainor Glass (1)
1794 Site Clearing - Grading Contractors: 4 with one IC, (Case Construction)
1795 Demolition Contractors: None
1796 Elevator Contractors: 3 with one IC, (Structures, Inc.)
1799 Special Trade Contractors: 6 with one IC (Rust Scaffolding)

In case of a tie, the company with the most employees at the site was listed in parenthesis.

10 Recent Reasons for Wearing Your Hard Hat

1) 2/22/95. A 23 year old worker was struck in the back of the head by a flying pipe wrench was attached to a 5 foot long drill. No hard hat was worn. The worker died the next day.

2) 8/31/95. The 25 year old worker in the trench was struck by a flying piece of lumber when the trench partially collapsed. No hard hat was worn. The worker died of a skull fracture.

3) 11/29/95. The 32 year old worker was site clearing in a bulldozer pushing fallen trees. One of the trees came over the top of the dozer blade and struck the driver in the head. The victim died of a skull fracture.

4) 3/20/96. The 21 year old worker was removing an aluminum concrete form when it fell and hit him in the head. He was pronounced D.O.A. by the arriving paramedics.

5) 4/5/96. The 50 year worker was moving a metal H-beam under the second story house when it fell and struck him in the head. No hard hat was worn.

6) 4/17/96. The 52 year old laborer was walking by a scaffold that was being dismantled. He was struck in the head by a falling scaffold bracket. He was not wearing a hard hat. He was on life support until he died 5 days later.

7) 9/30/96. The 38 year old employee was nailing roof truss bracing when the trusses collapsed. The carpenter was struck in the head and died of the injuries.

8) 11/19/96. The 33 year old laborer was repairing a wind damaged masonry wall when a section fell on him. He was struck in the head and received fatal skull fractures.

9) 2/13/97. The 41 year old employee was working under some suspended drilling rods when one rod fell and struck him in the head. He was wearing his hard hat. He received a concussion, but was released later that day.

10) 3/5/97. The 32 year old plasterer was unloading a truck load of scaffolding. He took off the top plank and turned, when the entire load came down on top of him. He was wearing his hard hat. He was air lifted to the medical center. He only received a cut mouth and a bruised left leg.



Original articles © WorkCare™; Orange, California.