OSHA Seeks Comments on Backover, Reinforcing Concrete Risks

The agency published a request for information about both, saying it wants to know what if anything it can do to prevent injuries and deaths in both areas.

Casualties involving vehicle backovers and reinforcing operations in concrete work done in construction are the focus of a request for information OSHA has published March 29. The agency seeks comments within 90 days about both, saying it wants to know what more, if anything, it can do to prevent injuries and deaths in these areas.

There are separate rulemaking dockets at www.regulations.gov for them: OSHA-2010-0058 for reinforced concrete in construction and OSHA-2010-0059 for backover fatality prevention.

The request says the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers and an industry coalition (including CPWR) petitioned OSHA for a negotiated rulemaking in April 2010 about reinforcing steel and post-tensioning operations. Though they explained the hazards and said the use of steel-reinforced and post-tensioned poured-in-place concrete by 2015 likely will be double the amount used in 1990, OSHA found little information in the literature about incident rates connected with this. However, a review of OSHA's Integrated Management Information System found 30 workers died in 2000-2009 while performing rebar-related activities –- five from impalement, nine from falls, eight when rebar cages or columns collapsed, and six in struck-by incidents. One worker died during the period while performing post-tensioning operations.

A few state plans –- notably, California and Washington -– have regulations in place governing post-tensioning work, and there are requirements in the Army Corps of Engineers' Safety and Health Requirements Manual and an ANSI standard, ANSI/ASSE A10.9-2004, that apply, the request states.

Searching OSHA's Integrated Management Information System found many more deaths associated with backovers: 358 from 2005 through 2010, of which 142 were in the construction industry (the others were in general industry, maritime, shipyards, or agriculture).

Vehicles involved in a large number of deaths were dump trucks (61 deaths), tractor trailers (31), and garbage trucks (20). Significantly, the IMIS data provide context for these deaths: Eight workers who were killed were using cellphones at the time, 21 deaths involved vehicles with no driver, and 25 victims were acting as spotters for the vehicles that backed over them.

The request notes that backovers in highway work zones are a significant concern because workers there routinely are working near mobile equipment and vehicles.

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