Bar joists are popular for steel construction, because they are economical and strong. However, working with bar joists come with many hazards until they are completely installed and under deck.
Historically, building collapses and accidents occurred during bar joist installation. OSHA Subpart R 1926.750 specifically addresses procedures to prevent structural collapse and/or injury. Unfortunately, there are still erectors that do not understand these rules and procedures.
The hazards start with unloading and continue through each step of construction, including hoisting, laying out, placing, connecting, welding, burning, guying, bracing, bolting, and rigging bar joists. Training employees on how to properly install bar joists and their potential safety hazards is crucial to prevent injuries and structural collapse.
Give your employees the proper training to understand clearly how to erect joists safely. Reviewing and following these best practices will reduce the chances of collapse and possible injuries.
Inspect the load before the chains are taken off the truck. Often banding is broken during delivery. If the driver releases chains with broken bands, bar joists can fall off the truck, creating a crushing hazard. If they are not properly banded, take precautions such as basketing with proper sized wire rope slings and holding the joists in place with a crane or forklift before releasing or breaking the chains. You might also possibly re-band the loads while they are being held by the crane or forklift, to re-secure them.
As unloading begins, do not break the banding while the joists are in the vertical position. This is a common mistake. Instead, lay all joist and girders flat prior to breaking shipping bands. Once joists are laid out in the laydown area, they will need to be sorted and bundled according to sequence of erection.
Before building erection begins, bracing and fall protection plans must be established.
Use proper methods for landing joists and placing loads on joists. Although there are several options for doing so, it is an area where poor practices are commonly used. Landing joists can be done by setting a bundle in a bay, landing a single joist, or by panelizing.
When landing bundles, the bundle must be secured prior to being released from the crane or forklift. As the erector begins shaking the joist out, OSHA requires that each steel joist must be attached to the support structure. This must be on at least at one end on both sides of the seat, immediately upon placement in the final erection position and before additional joists are placed. It is not permitted to shake the entire bundle out and then go back and weld in place. Even with a site-specific erection plan, OSHA states that erectors are required to keep decking bundled within 1 ft. of the beam/girder line.
When landing a single joist, the erector needs to understand how many rows of bridging must be installed prior to releasing the bar joist from the crane or prior to placing loads on the joists. When panelizing, the panel/joist must be attached at the four corners prior to releasing from the crane.
OSHA 1926.757 Steel Erection
Attachment of steel joists and steel joist girders
Erection of steel joists.
Landing and placing loads.
Ironworkers: On the Safe Side: Erecting Open We Steel Joist
Steel Joist Institute 2008 “Technical Digest No. 9, Handling and Erection of Steel Joists and Joist Girders
AISC: 2017 NASCC The Steel Conference Presentation, "Safe and Efficient Installation of Steel Joists and Metal Deck"
Ironworkers: On the Safe Side: Erecting Open We Steel Joist
This Safety Flash was contributed by Ed Valencia, Safety Director, Derr & Gruenwald Construction in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies, and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations.
Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash
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management processes, practical field issues or techniques, etc. Submit your suggestions
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our archive of past magazines is available online.
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September 14, 2020 (Winston-Salem, N.C.) Three companies have joined the Steel Erectors Association of America’s (SEAA) network of SEAA/NCCER Ironworker Training Units and Assessment Sites. Participation in the program grants SEAA member companies access nationally recognized credentials for ironworkers, crane operators and rigger/signal persons. Erection Welding Contractors, LLC, Pro Steel Erectors Inc., and Evolution Safety Resources bring the number of participating companies to 27 across the nationwide network.
Fifth Annual Industry Forum on Personnel Qualifications Rescheduled- OSHA Director Ketcham to Keynote at Virtual Event
Fairfax, VA, September 1, 2020 – The Fifth Annual Industry Forum on Personnel Qualifications has been rescheduled for Thursday, October 29, 2020 as a virtual event, the NCCCO Foundation has announced. As previously reported, Scott Ketcham, Director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, will once again provide the keynote address and participate in a Q&A session that will conclude the conference.
The Forum will build on the success of previous events and focus on the latest developments in regulations and best industry practices as they pertain to the qualifications of personnel working in, with, and around cranes and other types of lifting equipment. “In light of the imminent publication of OSHA’s Compliance Directive, we anticipate the session on the Foundation’s newly-published Most Similar Certifications Directory to be highly popular,” said NCCCO Foundation CEO, Graham Brent.
Other sessions will focus on who’s responsible for what on jobsites, why certification is so important for riggers, signalpersons, lift directors and others even when it may not be required, what’s “bubbling under” with new B30 standards, and what new certification programs are being developed.
The last Forum was held in Crosby, Texas in October 2019 and attracted a record attendance of more than 100 industry representatives from all facets of the lifting industry. A survey of attendees’ experience was highly positive. “Response to the last Forum was exceptional,” said Brent, “with fully 94% of delegates rating the event as meeting or exceeding their expectations.”
“It’s not every day that you get access to those, like OSHA Director Ketcham, who are on the front lines of regulatory issues,” said Brent, “which is why the question-and-answer panel discussion proved so popular last time and while we will be reprising it again this time around.”
“We pack a lot into a four-hour window. With a dozen or so separate presentations, we ensure there’s always something for everyone,” he added.
There is no charge to attend the Forum, but registration is required here.
The NCCCO Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to the promotion of construction industry safety through three major pathways: education, research and workforce development. By facilitating access to training and certification by youth, veterans and underserved communities through scholarships and grants, the Foundation seeks to ensure a safe and skilled workforce now and for the future.
The construction industry is four times more likely than any other industry to lose an employee to suicide. Take time to educate employees about the contributing factors, signs, and prevention during National Suicide Prevention Week, September 6-12.
The suicide rate in construction is 45.3/100,000 compared to the national average for other industries of 14.2/100,000. Based on these numbers, it is five times more likely that an employer will lose an employee to suicide than to what OSHA considers the fatal four: falls, electrocution, struck by, caught in/between.
For men between the ages of 25 and 54, suicide is the second biggest cause of death. Men in the
construction industry face the additional hardship from physical activity paired with a ‘tough guy’
culture that can make it more difficult to reach out and seek help.
Stress is one of the main contributors to the decline in mental health, and it can manifest in four ways: physical, emotional, intellectual, and personal well-being. Physical symptoms can present itself as rapid weight gain or weight loss, difficulty sleeping or fatigue. Emotional stress symptoms can come from feeling incompetent and cause irritability. Intellectual symptoms are often shown through procrastination or difficulty concentrating, and personal well-being stressors can mean isolation from friends and family or a loss of sense of humor.
These types of stress can exacerbate mental health issues and lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Often, individuals choose to self-medicate and abuse both drugs and alcohol instead of seeking professional help, due in part to the stigma associated with mental health.
Stress factors common in the construction industry that can contribute to a decline in mental health:
In the workplace, it is important to know what resources are available to support employees’
psychological health, and where there are gaps in the system. Learn to recognize the signs of an at-risk employee and create a supportive environment where individuals aren’t afraid of being reprimanded.
Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
This Safety Flash was contributed by Dax Biederman, CHST, Trivent Safety Consulting in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies, and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations. Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash to email@example.com.
2020 National Safety Stand-Down September 14-18
Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction
employees, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
Addressing falls in construction is the reason why each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) holds a National Safety Stand-Down to prevent Falls in the Construction industry. OSHA encourages employers to take a break to focus on safety concerns surrounding falls from elevation. Stand-down events provide employers and workers the opportunity to talk about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety and health programs, goals, and expectations.
Last year, thousands of worksites participated in the campaign and the Stand-Down event reached over a million workers. OSHA invites employers to dedicate themselves yet again to the safety of their most valuable resource: their workers.
OSHA’s Stand-Down webpage offers information on conducting a successful event, and educational resources. Employers are encouraged to provide feedback after their events, and to obtain a personalized certificate of participation.
The National Safety Stand-Down is a joint effort between OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.
To learn how you can participate in the Stand-Down, visit www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown.
Despite a major push for broad infrastructure funding in the U.S. House of Representatives, recent
disruptions to the U.S. economy will extend the current recession possibly into 2021. Fallout from
COVID-19, financial and equity market volatility, Federal Reserve emergency policies, and lower oil
prices are contributing to the uncertainty, FMI reports in its second-quarter Outlook.
“Based on the speed, breadth, and apparent lasting impacts of these various factors,” FMI is anticipating the current recession to continue through the remainder of 2020 and possibly into 2021, according to the report. Other factors include the uncertainty of the 2020 presidential election and social unrest.
“Depth and reach of these disruptions will remain under close watch,” stated the consulting firm.
Amid the uncertainty, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act, an infrastructure bill that would earmark funds for surface transportation, airport, school, housing, healthcare, energy, water, and broadband coverage. “However it also includes numerous anti-merit shop provisions opposed by Associated Builders and Contractors,” reports the organization.
“By requiring anti-competitive provisions, such as government-mandated project labor agreements and inflationary Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, this bill will dissuade contractors from bidding on projects, drive up overall costs and exclude the overwhelming majority of America’s construction industry professionals who choose not to join a union,” maintains the ABC.
These measures would also have a devastating impact on small construction businesses that are seeking to recover from the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, ABC believes: “The path forward on repairing our nation’s infrastructure should be rooted in fair and open competition and equal opportunity, not policies that favor big labor and costly, ineffective federal mandates.”
Other issues cloud the construction industry’s economic outlook. Nonresidential construction spending declined 0.9 percent in May, based on U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by ABC. On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, spending totaled $812.5 billion for the month, according to ABC. Private nonresidential spending declined 2.4 percent in May and public nonresidential construction spending increased 1.2 percent.
However, the Associated General Contractors reports that construction activity returned to pre-
coronavirus levels in 34 states, based on data on workers’ hours analyzed by Procore. An association survey found that only 8 percent of construction firms were forced to furlough or lay off workers in June while 21 percent report adding employees, compared to one-in-four firms letting workers go between March and May.
“But it is important to remember that construction activity typically increases quite a bit between March 1 and the end of May as the weather improves and more work gets underway,” Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, commented. “Getting to March 1 levels is a sign of progress, but it doesn’t mean things are back to normal.”
Simonson added that the data show the severe toll the pandemic took on the construction industry. For example, 61 percent of firms report having had at least one project halted or canceled because of the pandemic. One in four firms report that construction materials shortages, caused by lock downs and trade disruptions, are causing delays on current projects. Meanwhile, the Procore data found that smaller firms experienced more severe declines in construction activity during the pandemic than larger firms.
AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson
AGC Survey June 18
Procore Construction Activity Index
ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu
FMI Construction Forecast