Do you think that technicians tend to take job safety procedures, training, and documentation lightly or seriously? I never gave this question much thought until recently when I had a conversation with a long-time ESA member about his experience with an OSHA audit.
I asked what kind of job his company was working on. I didn’t realize OSHA touched many jobs that a security/fire alarm company would be involved in.
Turns out it was work they were doing at an active construction site, and it all boiled down to a ladder. I was shocked at the level of reporting and documentation that OSHA was requiring him to provide. Not only was the audit time consuming, but it also resulted in fines for the company.
Yes, this audit was costly to the company. What would have been worse is if the technician was hurt while at the job site. I decided to do some anecdotal research on injuries that can occur at electronic security installation job sites. To do this research I sent an email off to 10 friends in the industry and within 30 minutes I had the following examples:
Lift not locked:
When completing a fire alarm system test & inspection, the technician was lifted to duct detectors in a warehouse. The customer operated the lift but forgot to lock the cage in place. The technician fell out and the cage fell on top of him. The technician is still going through surgeries and recovery 3 ½ years later.
Ladder listed weight:
While replacing a section of pipe in a sprinkler system, the technician was on a ladder, along with the pipe and tools. All these items were more than the listed weight of the ladder and it buckled. The technician and the pipe fell and the technician was injured when the pipe hit him in the head. He was wearing a hard hat but it fell off when he hit the ground.
While using a roto-hammer to drill through a concrete block wall, one of the technicians, who had long hair, had his head too close to the drill while pushing it against the wall. The chuck of the drill caught some of his locks. It twisted them into the drill. It ripped a 3-inch circumference patch of bloody hair and roots off the side of his head. He had a bald spot for over 6 months before peach fuzz started to grow in.
I was assisting in the installation for a takeover of the monitoring of several existing water flow riser alarms and supervisory switches for a fire alarm system. I was told to pull new NEC class 2 low voltage wire through the same conduit that had the existing wires in it. Not knowing those existing wires were NEC Class 1 high voltage, my metal fish tape snagged an existing hot wire and shorted to ground, causing me to be electrically shocked. A worker in the area who witnessed this said he heard a loud noise, then saw me as I was traveling through the air. Fortunately, I was not hurt.
Schooled in wet plastic:
We had a fire technician out on job at a very large university. Coming into one of the main buildings, the electrician for the job had laid out plastic on the walkway. Unfortunately, the sprinklers turned on and the plastic got wet. The fire technician was walking into the building and slipped on the wet plastic and severely broke his ankle. It required two surgeries to fix.
In many of the above cases, the technician was out of work for a long time. This resulted in lost income for his or her family. The company was either short-staffed or needed to hire a replacement.
Job injuries may also lead to a claim being made with your insurance carrier. That could in turn cost you money, and plenty of stress. With workers’ compensation claims, be prepared to answer questions about what training you provided your employees with and how you can prove that training occurred.
To support training customers in job safety training, the National Training School has partnered with a leading OSHA training provider so that we can provide OSHA 10 Construction and OSHA 30 to our customers. Those that complete the training will receive an official DOL-OSH card. Then they can immediately prove compliance with their job sites requirements.
We also offer a stand-alone CEU Course titled “Job Safety Reminders.” It covers topics including: OSHA regulations that impact the industry, identifying job site hazards, ladder safety, power actuated tool precautions, electrical hazards, lifting guidelines, heat exhaustion, and first aid principles. To learn more about ESA’s training offering visit www.esaweb.org/training and search for “Safety” in our online course catalog.