Was proper hoisting procedure followed?

by on May 29, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Based on the facts presented below, how do you think the courts ruled?

“This individual had no business being where she was when she got hurt,” Safety Director Mark Burgess told state Labor Department inspector Jeffrey Chen.

“She was working for the architect on the installation of video screens – that’s part of the building renovation – and she should have kept out of the area where we were working on the elevator,” Mark said.

“She said she saw one of her colleagues in that area and went to talk to him,” the inspector replied. “But I want to focus on what caused the accident.”

Lifting a beam
“Your people,” the inspector went on, “weren’t following the regs when they tried to hoist that steel beam up the shaft.”

“I beg to differ,” Mark said. “Our guys were very careful.”

“When they saw that the beam wouldn’t easily go up the shaft horizontally, and was tipping, they didn’t try to force it. They were lowering it back to ground level to put an eye hook on the end so they could lift it vertically. Unfortunately, as they did so it slipped out of the chain sling.”

A severe injury
“And swung out of the elevator shaft, hitting the architect’s employee in the leg,” inspector Chen said. “She was badly injured because you didn’t secure the beam properly.”

“My report will show that you broke the rules, and I’m willing to bet the employee is going to sue you based on it,” he concluded.

The employee did sue Mark’s company for violations of the state labor code. Did she win?

The Decision
Yes, a court said the company’s violation of two sections of the state labor code contributed to the employee’s injury.

The company:

  • Failed to properly secure and balance a load – in this case, the steel beam – before starting to move it. Result: The beam tipped inside the shaft and had to be dangerously re-rigged in the middle of the operation.
  • used a chain as a sling to hold the beam, where the regs allowed chain slings only for hoisting large pieces of wood, masonry or stone. Result: The beam slipped out of the chain and swung into the employee’s leg.

Further, the court said, the company didn’t live up to its legal duty to adequately protect the employee’s overall safety – the state labor code’s version of OSHA’s general duty clause. If
non-essential employees shouldn’t have been in the area of the elevator, there should have been some warning of that fact.

Safe hoisting
Hoisting creates a situation where the potential danger can be extreme – heavy materials are suspended, often at significant heights, subject to swinging, tipping and swaying. Unless all rules are followed, an accident is never far away.

That’s why it’s critically important to make sure supervisors and employees engaged in these operations periodically review the applicable OSHA standards. These include 29 CFR 1910 Subpart N for general industry and 29 CFR 1926 Subpart N for construction.

Matz v. Laboratory Institute of Merchandising and Certified of NY Inc., No. 105124/07, N.Y. Sup., 4/13/10. Fictionalized for dramatic effect.

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