International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers Executive Director of Safety and Health Steve Rank discussed safety issues faced by ironworkers, national Safety Stand Down week and more on the Sept. 17 episode of America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Sept. 14 through 18 is the annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration Safety Stand Down week, the emphasis throughout the country has been on eliminating falls in the construction industry.
Correctly studying fall deaths
Rank began by informing the audience that sometimes the statistics do not show the entire story of each fall accident. He said existing hazards could have caused the fall, meaning the fall was not just a simple misstep.
Rank provided other examples of misclassified fall deaths. He said portions of a structure could collapse, causing a fall. He said another worker may create trip hazards for fellow tradesmen and tradeswomen, leading to a trip and fall.
Ironworker training centers promote safety
Part of being a member of the Ironworkers Union (IW) is rigorous training in order to minimize or eliminate fall deaths. Rank gave a look into how this training looks now, compared to decades past.
He said there are over one hundred training centers using small scale buildings to teach IW apprentices proper technique and reinforce safety issues in a low-risk environment. Not only do IW apprentices learn how to avoid and minimize fall hazards, they also learn how to properly use every type of fall arrest system.
National Safety Stand Down week
Although National Safety Stand Down week was pushed to September, the messages the week-long event carries are still important to the IW and worth attention, Rank said.
Rank said IW General President Eric Dean sent out a letter to industry contractors, every IW training center and IW local union. In the letter he encouraged them to be aware of Safety Stand Down Week and encouraged events be organized if possible.
Rank said IW training centers throughout the country are typically open for safety-focused events during Safety Stand Down week. However, the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow events to take place this year.