Ironworkers risk life and limb to help build many of the structures that create the identity of our cities and provide the services that help run them. Walking along steel girders high above a construction site is definitely not a job for the faint of heart; doing it without the proper personal protective equipment is a tragedy waiting to happen. Known by some as “dancing on the steel” and sometimes-celebrated practice of walking girders without fall protection has claimed the lives of many workers, most recently a 22-year-old apprentice ironworker in Kansas City.
Falls continue to claim the lives of workers – it CAN be prevented
According to a story in Ironworkerz, the apprentice fell more than 30 feet to his death after standing on a 9-inch wide steel girder. The apprentice was not wearing fall protection when he fell and had only been on the job for “a few weeks.” It’s a sobering reminder that falls continue to be the biggest and deadliest on-the-job hazard.
The fatality prompted an OSHA investigation that resulted in citations against the worker’s employer and the site’s general contractor. A total of 10 violations including 7 willful violations. Among the violations was one for failing to provide a worker with fall protection. The investigation found that the employer allowed workers to climb the scissor lift guardrails to access the steel frame and decking and allowed them to climb the rails of the aerial lift basket. Adding insult to injury, the OSHA investigation found that these practices were in violation of the firm’s own manual.
Related Course: 10-Hour OSHA Safety & Health Training
It’s never easy to report about the deaths of fellow workers on the fields; it’s frustrating to continuously point out that this death could have been prevented. At TSCTA we’ll continue to wave the banner for worker safety and help change minds among workers and employers. Safety doesn’t happen by accident, we have to stay vigilant and hold each other accountable.