Stories From the Field

Post: Some Thoughts About Safety (#4 in a Series)

Thursday July 28, 2016

This is the latest in an ongoing series of safety-related posts. See earlier entries Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I was driving through Lincoln Park this week and happened to look out the passenger-side window while stopped at a red light. I saw a mason working on top of what appeared to be a 20’-tall chimney (which itself was built atop a 50’-tall building) and fumbled for my camera to capture what I saw.

A mason working in dangerous conditions on top of a chimney

I had so many concerns about this mason’s safety that I parked the car, ran over to the job site, and suggested to the worker that he return to the job after he had the equipment needed to perform his work safely. He told me he did it all the time and I didn’t need to worry. Yikes, I hope he and the property owner both have good insurance (he needs it when he gets injured, and the property owner needs it when the worker’s personal injury attorney suggests suing the building owner for unsafe work conditions).

Several work site safety violations scared me into action. Did you happen to notice them?

Safety Violation #1: The ladder used to access the top of the chimney is not tall enough. So, simply getting to the top of the chimney and getting down off the chimney are themselves risky endeavors.

Safety Violation #2: The ladder is not tied off to anything. If you look closely, the rope in the mason’s hands is for pulling materials up and down.

Safety Violation #3: The worker is not wearing a safety harness with a lifeline tied off to anything secure and immovable. That means he could easily fall into the chimney shaft (likely an uninterrupted fall to the basement about 70 feet down) and break his neck.

Safety Violation #4: The mason appears to be working alone. If he runs into a jam and requires immediate assistance (e.g., the unsecured ladder blows over in the wind while he is standing on top of the chimney), no one will be present to respond.

An easy solution to these job site safety violations would be to erect pipe scaffolding upon the flat roof, secure the scaffolding to the walls of the chimney using scaffolding clamps, and stand on this stable platform instead of the edge of what appears to be a 100-year-old chimney.

With good training, thoughtful job site set-up and an awareness that comes from decades and decades of field experience, we mitigate work site hazards and provide you with peace of mind.

Be safe out there and thank you for your support!

- Rob

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