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Painter’s World: A Scaffolding Accident Case Worth Reporting

Scaffolding injuries a year: 4,500; deaths: 50.

 

In 2016, at least sixty-five painters were reported as being injured in scaffolding accidents.

 

The term “fall prevention” hadn’t been conceived yet, let alone used in the construction industry, in the 1970s.

 

But, J.M., a twenty-four year old painter did fall over 30 feet, when the scaffolding system collapsed and broke apart. He suffered severe, permanent spinal cord, arm/hand/wrist and brain damage. Doctors did not know if he would ever sit and walk again. They were certain that he would never be able to work again. Even from a wheelchair.

 

For the rest of his life, he would require extensive medical treatment, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation services. Also skilled nursing care. All at a huge cost, and expense.

 

At the time of the accident, the third-generation painter carried a $1 million health insurance policy, through his national union, IBPAT/IUPAT.

 

On J.M.’s behalf, his parents sued for money to cover all of his current and, especially, future needs. Time period: From the date and time of the accident to the date and time of his death, funeral rite, and burial; and posthumously through the date of his last expense or cost.  The co-defendants in the lawsuit included the following: scaffolding manufacturing company, equipment rental company, general contractor/project construction company, property owners, his painting contractor employer, the state’s Workmen’s Compensation division, etc.

 

A Chicago law firm handled the case. It had an international reputation for successfully litigating employee-on-the-job accident cases pertaining to the construction industry, and related product design, engineering and manufacturing. The firm was recommended by an equally noted legal-medical researcher and physiologist. And, each person brought to the litigation team possessed an extensive background in specific areas pertaining to construction accidents, particularly those causing severe, permanent damages and disabilities. Even death.

 

J.M.’s physical and psychological status were apparent. The evidence files bulged with accident-scene photos and witness accounts, patient medical records and reports, and expert analyses. Added was employment records from before the accident, then from seven years later, when he tried, repeatedly, to work again through a special Social Security Administration program.

 

Still, the case took over eight years to settle. If it wouldn’t have been for his parents and sister holding down full-time jobs during those eleven years, J.M. wouldn’t have made it that long.

 

The large group of co-defendants agreed to settle out-of-court. A non-disclosure agreement had to be signed by all parties. The settlement sum and terms were never disclosed. (Even the closest friends of J.M. and his veteran painter father were never told the details.)

 

Few actual dollars exchanged hands. Remember: The family’s goal was to ensure that all of J.M.’s future needs would be met for the rest of his life. So, the attorneys on both sides collaborated to set up various special needs and other types of trusts for the disabled painter. Members of his family were named as co-trustees, also “limited co-beneficiaries.”

 

In time, he found a way to return to painting. He still required more treatments and more prescriptions medications to function. Some of his bodily damages had been inoperable.

 

In the years that J.M. continued on this earth, he and his wife reared three children. Each child grew into adulthood and married, adding descendants to the family tree. Then, they had children. And, in spite of serious weaknesses in his spinal column, J.M. served as an inspiration in the community. And, the limbs and branches in his family tree grew strong, and productive.

 

Eventually, J.M. died. His liver and kidneys could no longer handle those medications and some of their dangerous interactions. Different parts of his body gave way to the added impact of aging. His heart could no longer take the strain. And, his heart and brain stopped.

 

The family could have ordered for his life to be prolonged by seventy-two hours. But, what would have been the point?

 

J.M.’s horrendous fall from the collapsing scaffolding was one thing. What he had to cope with and live through for the ensuing years was too much. It was more than even his fantastic attitude and his family’s love and support could ensure.

 

* J.M. 1948 – 2014.

 

See: “Scaffolding Safety, and OSHA Standards §1926.451

And the guide to “Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry.”

 

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Every painter is entitled to be supported by a well-built, properly assembled, and safe scaffolding system. No exceptions.

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Copyright June 05, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Paintshop: What Hotel and Facility Painters NEED to Do Their Jobs

*** A lead painter, whose hotel was damaged by Hurricane Maria’s winds, reminded me about a post that I missed submitting. Perhaps, you will find something here that can help you in 2017.

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A hotel chain’s Senior chief engineer in South Carolina emailed about team preparedness, after the October 29, 2014 post. (“Hotel Engineering Team Training: Pilot Project 2015”)

 

“We’re a small group of specialty brand inns.  Our paint applicators are all experienced in brush, roller and spray. None of them requires formal instruction on using new products, tools (and) equipment. Each painter is good at picking up on things, and running with it.

 

“Our budget is always tight. The 2015 budget can be stretched to purchase a few newer types of products, tools and equipment for each paint shop.

 

“I emailed all of our engineering directors. Each submitted a similar short list of needs. All of them requested the following:

 

1.  Samples of new formulations of basic paint products that may fit our property needs.

‘My application specialist needs to test out a product before he can decide whether to go with the newer product, or stick with the standard one.’

 

2. Small samples of products as they come on the market.

‘Our chief engineers push for their painters and maintenance techs to get to test out any new product, supply, tool, or piece of equipment before they get stuck with it.’

 

3. Free new painting and maintenance tools to try-before-we-buy.

‘Promising new tools come on the market. I want my painter, and maintenance people, to be able to try a few of them, at least. . .It makes no sense to buy a new tool for my paint shop, before we know if it will work for the painter that has to use it.’

 

4. New spray gun, or spray system pre-purchase testing

‘Each of our painters does a lot of spraying, interior and exterior. At some point, a spray gun becomes too costly to repair, or rebuild, even with thorough cleaning and careful maintenance. Replacement becomes sensible option. Some of the new spray gun systems can be expensive…’

 

Question 1: “Bob, who do we call to get small samples of products as they come on the market?”

Answer: “In your capacity, contact the product manufacturer’s testing division. Explain your interest and need in testing new products before you buy them. Tell them about the products, including theirs, that your painters have used in the past. Share a short list of pros and cons. Offer specific engineering departments and sites within your chain as “testers and test sites.”

 

Question 2: “How do we get samples of new paint/finish products that may fit our property (ies)?”

Answer: “Talk to your regular paint supplier/distributor first. If that doesn’t work, contact the paint manufacturer’s representative for each respective product line.”

TIP: “It might help to seal the arrangement if you can offer your paint applicators’ experiences with the product as ‘painting trade testimonials.’ Check in advance with a few of your painters.”

 

Question 3: “How do we get to test out new tools and equipment free? Try-before-we-buy?”

Answer: “Contact the respective tool manufacturer – “Trade/contractor services.” Talk with the director or assistant director of their “after market” research testing center. Find out what type(s) of research data they need.

 

“And, if you know that you can help meet their need:

“FAX a 1-2 page “Trade Testing-Based Proposal. Offer to provide “after market” tool use data. State how many “testing” locations you can provide and their location. For each, describe:

(1) approximate acreage and age of developed area, also property layout;

(2) structures: number, square footage, style, relevant substrates;

(3) paint shop job description, capabilities.

 

“For the tool, describe (1) need: current and projected; (2) use: how, where, and frequency; (3) purchasing plan: minimum quantity, initial order; approximate purchase date(s).

 

TIP: “Keep your proposal brief, and to the point! Do not offer the expertise of any specific dynamo painters under your umbrella. At this point, do not “bank on” any staff member to help pull this off.”

 

Question 4: “How can we get at least three spray systems to try out? Pre-purchase testing. Longer than one day for each system.

“Next year’s budget: I can fit in the purchase of one system for each property, after March 30. If our applicators know how to use the system, each engineering department can save sizeable funds, now going to outside contractors…”

Answer: “Spray systems for commercial and/or industrial use tend to be expensive. Phone the manufacturer’s nearest rep. Especially if you already use one or more of their spray guns and spraying systems.

 

“If you’re confident that you can provide important data not yet at the manufacturer’s fingertips:

“FAX a 1-page proposal letter. Offer to supply certifiable testimonials from both your top, and less experienced, sprayers. Include their experience in using that manufacturer’s spray systems, also their experience using any comparable system made by a top competitor.

“Briefly describe how your sprayers can provide feedback that will help the manufacturer build and sustain its market base for that specific spray system.

 TIP: “Please do not offer to provide any data that you’re not certain you can supply.”

 

Some needs transfer into future situations. Some useful ideas turn into future opportunities.

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Thanks for reading “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Disaster Recovery, Part 2: Paintshop Priorities

You may not have much time to get the paintshop back in shape, after a hurricane, or another type of disaster, passes or weakens. In fact, you may need to work that job around the recovery property tasks that you must help others get done throughout the property.

Here are tips on what you might need to get ready right away, or as soon as possible.

ESSENTIAL MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES

1. Throw-away sponges, non-porous buckets, long rubber gloves, face masks.
2. Disposable plastic sheeting, 2-4 ML, duct tape, tarp clasps.
3. Scented bleach – to minimize lingering odors.
4. Non-toxic commercial fungal mold remediation solution, hydrogen peroxide.
5. Fillers, caulking, masonry patch, polyester filler.
6. Sandpaper – assorted counts, steel wool.
7. Interior latex paint – main base colors used on property, exterior latex or oil-base paints.
8. Glues, carpet tile adhesive and tape, mortar mix.
9. Paper towels, clean throw-away rags.
10. Other: Hygienic hand wipes, dust masks; texture for repairs.

ESSENTIAL TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT

1. Scrapers, putty knives, wire brushes.
2. Paintbrushes: 1 ½, 2, 3, and 4-inches; cutting in brush. China bristles and nylon/polyester.
3. Paint rollers and covers: 9-inch x ¼-inch, 3/8-inch, ½-inch, 1 ½-inch.
4. Pressure washer, rubber boots, water exposure gear.
5. Organic vapor respirator
6. Gas compressor..


ESSENTIAL SKILLS AND SERVICES
(more…)

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