Archive for September, 2015

The “Interpretation” Situation

I was asked a good question recently and have been asked similar questions like this before.

“You wrote my crane up as deficient because I didn’t have Electrocution Warning decals on all four sides of the crane. I looked at the standards and they don’t state that there needs to be Electrocution Warning decals on all four sides of the crane”

He’s right, it doesn’t say that specifically.  This item is representative of a number of articles in the crane standards that need to be interpreted for the best possible inspection.

Using this example, imagine if there was an accident involving a ground worker and electrocution. Let’s say that the ground worker touched the crane on the very side that had no electrocution warning and got injured as a result of the crane crossing electrical wires.

From where I sit, nothing is far-fetched. When you think of it, every accident wasn’t expected. That makes the art of safety a test to prevent everything that is unexpected.

OSHA provides crane safety standards that are the MINIMUM safety standards. Likewise, in the event of an injury, OSHA is the least of your troubles. Let’s get back to our injured ground worker…

The ground worker is hurt. OSHA levies a citation and fine at the hearing. The citation doesn’t involve the missing decal at all. In fact, maybe the OSHA inspector interpreted this standard differently or maybe he missed it during his investigation. (I wouldn’t ever expect OSHA to miss anything) So now what?

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I’ll tell you from experience. The ground workers lawyer does his investigation. He notices that there is no conspicuous warning label regarding the possibility of electrocution and he questions the crane safety standards. His interpretation is very specific.

His client (the injured ground worker) should have been able to approach this crane from any angle and be aware of the imminent electrocution potential. The ensuing lawsuit makes OSHA’s fine seem….. Minimal.

This is only one of many interpretation issues that I address during an inspection. My goal is to keep my customers and their workers safe and to prevent any scenarios like this from happening. Many items on my inspections are perpetuated from incidents that I’ve been involved in and outcomes of litigations that I’ve been involved in.

Be Safe, Be Healthy, Be Happy

- Jay Sturm

Dozens Killed in Mecca Crane Accident

At least 107 people died after accident at the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Saudi officials said

[Video below]

A crane accident at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca killed at least 107 people, Saudi officials said, days before the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage that will see more than two million religious tourists visit the country.

Government officials said a storm that rocked the city on Friday caused the crane’s collapse, which caved in parts of the mosque—the world’s largest—filled with pilgrims.

Footage aired by state television showed police and medical teams attending to bloodied bodies on the mosque’s white marble floors, as high wind and heavy rain lashed the site.

An additional 238 people were reported injured, according to the official Twitter account for the nation’s Civil Defense department.

A spokesman for the health department in Mecca region told the state news agency it was still working to identify the nationalities of the victims.

Prince Khaled al-Faisal, the governor of Mecca, ordered an urgent investigation into the accident, Saudi state television said. He later visited the accident site and ordered officials to begin repairs as soon as possible.

mosque accident

The Grand Mosque pulls Muslims from around the world for the Hajj. Millions, dressed in simple white clothes, perform prayer rituals for what is often a once-in-a-lifetime religious pilgrimage.

Yet the massive crowds have contributed to several tragedies at Islam’s holiest of sites, most of them due to stampedes.

The last deadly incident occurred in 2006, when 346 were killed in a stampede on Mecca bridge. In 1990, a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel in the city killed 1,426 pilgrims, the deadliest Hajj incident in recent history.

Abdur Rahman Laily, a 33-year-old pilgrim from South Africa, said he heard the strong impact of the crane falling from his hotel room near the Grand Mosque. He soon headed to the mosque to see.

“This was one of the tallest and biggest cranes at the mosque expansion project,” he said in a telephone interview from Mecca.

Mr. Laily said the falling crane made a large hole at one of the upper levels used by pilgrims to walk around the Kaaba, a stone cube covered in black at the center of the mosque and known as the House of God.

Workers quickly cleaned the debris but that level was no longer accessible, he said.

The accident has increased pressure on the Saudi authorities at a time they face a series of economic and security challenges.

The oil-rich country is dealing with a sharp drop in the price of crude, which is now at its lowest level since March 2009.

Meanwhile, as it jockeys with Iran for regional influence, it has been spearheading fighting in neighboring Yemen against Houthi rebels, who are accused by the Saudis of receiving support from Iran. The fighting, which aims to reinstall Western-backed president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has dragged on for more than five months with an estimated cost of more than $1 billion.

Protecting the pilgrims and ensuring their safety is an especially sensitive issue for a country that prides itself as a leader of the Islamic world and where the king’s official title is “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has limited the number of people allowed in for the pilgrimage to accommodate construction for the city’s expansion projects. The construction at the mosque, set to finish next year, was slated to increase the mosque’s capacity significantly.

Already, more than half a million pilgrims have arrived in the kingdom in preparation for Hajj this year, even as construction continued at the mosque and surrounding areas.

Saudi Binladin Group, the commercial vehicle of the bin Laden family and one of the country’s biggest construction firms, which has been leading the expansion project, had suspended the project on Thursday, according to local daily Saudi Gazette.

The company didn’t immediately respond to requests to comment.

It wasn’t immediately clear who owned the crane.

Saudi officials have warned pilgrims to avoid any actions that might disrupt Hajj.

“Any act contrary to the regulations and instructions while performing the rituals” of pilgrimage “will be treated with the utmost firmness,” the state news agency said last month.

But with waves of people who speak different languages packing into a confined area, crowd control has become a serious challenge.

And public health risks are also on the rise.

Saudi authorities also are attempting to manage concerns about the spread of the lethal Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The country reported 34 new cases of the disease last week.

The Kingdom last week announced a ban on the practice of sacrificing camels and sharing their meat with the poor during Hajj—a step taken to limit the spread of the virus, which is believed to have been passed from infected camels to humans.


Hancock County man killed in construction accident at Jourdan River Steamer Site


Officials have identified the construction worker who was killed in an accident Tuesday morning at the old Jourdan River Steamer restaurant property on Mississippi 603.

Coroner Jim Faulk said Gary Berthelot, 54, was killed when a section of flooring collapsed about 7:30 a.m.

“Berthelot was standing underneath as the other workers were pouring the concrete,” he said.

Hancock County Chief Deputy Don Bass said workers tried to rescue Berthelot but his injuries from the initial collapse were too severe.

“They tried to dig him out of the rubble as fast as they could,” Bass said. “By the time they got him out, he was already deceased.”

Officials said workers were pouring concrete on a raised deck that would overlook 5,300 square feet of a dining area.

Berthelot was the president of Berthelot Design/Construction Inc., which has been overseeing the rebuilding of the restaurant.

The restaurant had been closed since 2012, when it received severe structural damage during Hurricane Isaac. The original building had subsequently been razed to make way for construction of a new restaurant, raised on piers to avoid the Jourdan River’s frequent flooding.

6 suffer minor injuries in Bryant University building collapse

The boom that thundered across the Bryant University campus and the pile of twisted steel and overturned aerial lifts made emergency workers fear the worst. But the six workers they pulled from the pile Tuesday escaped with relatively minor injuries, despite the sudden collapse of a partially completed field house.

“Some very lucky people took the ride down,” Smithfield Deputy Fire Chief James Grenga said of the workers caught in the collapse, who were placed in neck restraints on backboards and taken by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital. “They’re very lucky to be alive.”

Authorities could not say what caused the collapse of the steel framework, which was meant to be the ribbing and rafters for an indoor practice facility that would contain a full 100-yard turf playing field, plus end zones, under a nearly two-acre roof.

School leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking in May for the 78,000-square-foot indoor practice facility for Bryant University’s athletic teams.

School leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking in May for the 78,000-square-foot indoor practice facility for Bryant University’s athletic teams.

The initial report of the collapse, which left a tangle of ruined metal at the construction site, caused emergency crews from at least a half-dozen departments to rush to the scene.

Smithfield Fire Chief Bob Seltzer, whose department is coordinating the investigation, said the construction site supervisor reported the incident about 8:15 a.m.

“Something went wrong,’’ Seltzer said. “We don’t know what it was.”

By late afternoon, four of the injured workers had been treated and released by Rhode Island Hospital’s emergency department, while two remained under evaluation but were in good condition, hospital spokeswoman Beth Bailey said.

The accident occurred on a distant corner of the 435-acre Bryant campus, beyond a series of outdoor ball fields. Fall classes have not yet begun at Bryant, and only student-athletes and international students are on campus.

None of those students was near the construction site at the time of the collapse, Bryant spokeswoman Liz O’Neil said, and the incident is not expected to disrupt the start of the academic year.

Amid the firefighters and police who remained at the taped-off scene, two inspectors from the Providence office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration could be seen surveying the wreckage.

“The purpose of OSHA’s inspection is to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace safety standards in connection with this incident,” OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said. The investigation could take months.

The construction of the 78,000-square-foot structure — an indoor practice facility for Bryant’s Division I athletic teams — is being managed by general contractor A/Z Corp. It was not immediately clear whether the injured workers were contractors or subcontractors. A/Z did not respond to a call to its Connecticut headquarters seeking comment.

The university is cooperating with the investigation by multiple agencies officials said.

School leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking in May at the indoor practice facility, part of a $75 million building boom at the school.

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STEW MILNE FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE An official from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration took photos at the scene of the building collapse.