Here is one that I was put in today. We are retrofiting lights in this High School auditorium with a 40ft suspended ceiling. We only have 1 genie lift to put up fixtures so the foreman has one guy putting up the fixtures and has a few guys up in the ceiling wiring the fixtures and jack chaining them. Well today he asks me to go up in the ceiling and wire some fixtures. So I hop in the scissor lift to get brought up into the ceiling. When I get up there there is one plank to use to get around so here is what you have to do. Wrap yourself around the perlings(sp) With one arm supporting yourself grab the plank, move it to the next perling, crawl across to the next perling, once again, hold on for dear life to the next one, with one arm supporting yourself, grab the plank and so on. There is nothing overhead to tie a harnass onto so basically one false move and your falling 40ft.
I was up in the ceiling for 10 minutes trying to move around and I had the foreman come pick me up in the lift. I told him that I couldn't work up there since I didn't feel safe and asked if there was anything else on the job that I could do. He tells me to go home, so I say screw it and leave since I am not willing to fall 40ft and get paralyzed just cuz he wants his fixtures wired with a half ass plank setup. I then called the big foreman and asked him if there was any other jobs he could send me and he told me its either the ceiling or stay home. So I then called the owner and explained to him that I didn't feel safe up in that ceiling and asked him if he could send me somewhere else. His answer was "stay home". So I guess I won't be working for a while. Did I do the right thing? Would you guys put yourselfs in that situation? I am interested to hear some of your horror stories too. Thanks.
[This message has been edited by GOROSSI46 (edited 12-13-2005).]
[This message has been edited by GOROSSI46 (edited 12-13-2005).]
First of all..it's your butt. No one else, in the end, is responsible for you. Heck, you'll be lucky if they send cards and flowers! So, if you are uneasy, it's time to re-consider. Yes, you may suffer- be ridiculed, get fired, whatever- but it's time to be a man and make your own call.
One advantage of being in a union (no- I'm not getting political- stay with me here!) is that you have someone, in the person of the "shop steward" who can address your concerns without your painting a "bulls-eye" on yourself, and who might not even be a parrot for the foreman.
General comments aside....from your description, this sounds like a situation where fall restraint equipment is required. I am certain that a visit from OSHA will see a change in practices at that jobsite.
Time to find a new job and talk to OSHA while you are at it. I don't always follow the rules, I put a step ladder on top of scaffolding a few weeks ago to get the job done BUT I felt safe doing it, nobody told me I had to do it and my foreman would have freaked out if he showed up on the job and saw it.
It's an awkward position that your employer has put you in. Making you choose between your safety and your paycheck is never acceptable. Ultimately, your safety and well being rest on your own shoulders and going home instead of risking possible injury or even worse was the right call. Anyone who says differently is on some juvenile macho trip and will learn better someday. It will be an expensive lesson. I'm surprised at the lack of safety-mindedness I see in so many contractors. The shop owner is putting himself in a no win situation if he condones such activities. Is he actually hoping for a workman's comp. claim? In my shop, If I catch anyone doing working in an obviously unsafe manner, I fire them on the spot. The last thing I need is an OSHA violation or a workman's comp. claim not to mention how bad I would feel if one of my guys got badly hurt just to make me a few dollars. Sounds like you are the only one in your shop that has his priorities straight.
And before you lodge a formal complaint, make sure it is the right thing to do...
Refusing to do a job because of potentially unsafe workplace conditions is not ordinarily an employee right under the OSH Act. (Your union contract or state law may, however, give you this right, but OSHA cannot enforce it.) Refusing to work may result in disciplinary action by the employer. However, employees do have the right to refuse to do a job if they believe in good faith that they are exposed to an imminent danger. "Good faith" means that even if an imminent danger is not found to exist, the worker had reasonable grounds to believe that it did exist.
If your boss told to stay home, thats a boo-boo, on his part. Hes lining himself up... He may not be bright enough to know that.
40' over what? A sheet-rocked non-structural lid? I would call it a risk of life +/or limb.
Personal opinion... Talk to the owner about it, and discuss the options.
Life lines for a harness
More planking, and anchors for a harness
Cat walk might be pushing it...
Work on the ground for the project...
Nothing on those, maybe go for the complaint.
Either way I would be looking for other work, this guy is high risk. And small town USA, word has a tendancy to be 'sneezed' in a refferance call- "OSHA" - 'Bless you'
Myself - I don't do things that will kill me, and don't expect anyone else to. I have walked off jobs before, and if asked to do other stupid things, I will again.
Mark Heller "Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
40' over seating. I explained the situation to my employer and asked if he could place me on another job site. Supposedly he has no other place for me. He said he has harnasses there so he thinks he's in the right I guess. The problem is there is nothing to tie onto in the ceiling. I told him that I want to work but not if I am going to be placed in an unsafe environment. Thats when I was told to stay home till something else comes up but he don't know when that will be. Unfortunatly there is no ground work and why I was sent home. I don't plan on filing a complaint yet it would probably be the smart thing to do.
Sounds like this guy din't bid the job right, and now is looking for his employees to go on a suicide mission, for his error in estimating the job, of course there are going to be the usual, save the ship at all cost guys there, who will risk life, and limb and say what was wrong with that guy refusing the job, these are the guys that are part of the problem, for continuing to work in unsafe conditions.
Do an unsafe act, or no paycheck, is not a good position to be in, from what you described, i would have walked, you are sure, there was no place to attach a safety harness.
If i may ask, you said, "a few guys up in the ceiling wiring the fixtures and jack chaining them." just what would be their emergency escape method, i belive you said there was only one lift.
[This message has been edited by LK (edited 12-14-2005).]
Before you burn your employer and yourself be very sure. As you probably know, if you do decide to file a report, you are probably toast in the local market. No company will hire you. You can be sure that someone from the company will make it a point to 'advise' potential employers of your history.