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Painter’s World: Preventing Painter Accidents

In most situations, painter accidents can be prevented, or at least minimized. The responsibility rests on everyone’s shoulders: property owner/management, contractor(s) and painters, as well as other workers on the site and product/materials/equipment delivery outfits.

 

A CHECKLIST OF ACCIDENT PREVENTION PRACTICES

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Have experience in the proper use of products/materials, supplies, tools and equipment needed to complete the job.
  3. Pay attention to the details – eg. health and safety policies and practices.
  4. Keep up-to-date with your compliance certifications: OSHA, ADA, HAZMAT, HVLP, UBC.
  5. Carry a valid state-issued Class C commercial driver’s license, and Have no infractions within the last three-to-five years.
  6. Maintain certifications required in your specialty areas. Examples: highways/airfields; marine; planes; train cars; automotive; aerial; underground tanks/containers; above-ground tanks/containers; chemicals.
  7. Upgrade your skill-level certifications for working on your specific types of substrates, and using required products and materials. Note: Skills’ levels must be tested regularly.
  8. Keep up-to-date on your employer’s property and liability insurer requirements re: training.
  9. Keep up-to-date on new government standards and regulations and amendments and health and safety codes, AND required additional training and certifications.
  10. Retake advanced training to upgrade your journey-level certifications. Note: This is a requirement with a growing number for members of construction trades and union organizations.
  11. Participate in manufacturer’s product/coatings and related tool and equipment handling workshops, demonstrations, webinars, etc.

 

Following these practices may cause some inconvenience, and an outlay of cash, at the time. However, the risk of unpreparedness can be costly, and dangerous.

Bottom Line: There are no acceptable reasons for preventable accidents and injuries, damages, and fatalities to happen. None at all.

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Painters, as a group, can contribute much to workplace safety and health.

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Copyright June 13, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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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.

Painter’s World: Preventing Permanent Damage To Your Own Body

Every painter that’s worked in the trade for three months or longer knows about health and safety issues. Whether working for a hotel or facility, a contractor, a corporation, or on his or her own.

 

SEVEN CAREER PAINTERS AND THEIR HEALTH ISSUES…

 

LARRY herniated three lumbar discs from lifting, carrying and moving heavy paint equipment.

TIM fell and lost use of his thoracic and lumbar spine areas, both legs and one arm, after a scaffolding collapsed.

WAYNE damaged both hips climbing extension ladders and scaffolding, while carrying heavy paint cans and spray equipment.

PAUL destroyed the ligaments in his “painting hand” and wore down cartilage in his wrists from years of repetitive motions.

JESSE developed spondylosis in both knees from climbing ladders, bend, and crouching.

KEN wore down the joints, tendons and muscles in his “spraying hand.”

MARK developed skin cancer from frequent exposure to paint chemicals and direct sun.

 

Over time, over 78 percent of painters suffer permanent damage to their hands and wrists, spinal cord, knees, hips, and feet. And, they develop irreversible respiratory, lung, eye, and skin problems.

 

It’s all that lifting, toting, carrying, pushing, pulling, moving, bending, stooping, crawling, crouching, etc. It’s all that breathing in and coming in contact with toxic paint product chemicals, cleaning agents, environmental hazardous materials, etc.

 

Gross picture that I’ve painted? It’s meant to be. Alarming painters’ prognoses? It’s meant to be.

 

TEN TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR OWN HEALTH

 

Overall: Invest in and regularly use supports for the parts of your body that you use the most, and//or are already weak, damaged, or worn.

 

  1. Lifting – Besides that “bend and lift from the knees” rule, always wear a back brace from your thoracic spine to below the waist.
  2. Working on knees – Slide on knee pads, under or over your pants legs.
  3. Hand and wrist grasping – Slide foam tube over paint brush handles. (TIP from Mark Santos, Wall Wizard.)
  4. Carrying – Wear padded, firm grip gloves.
  5. Pushing/pulling – Wear elbow and forearm pads and braces.
  6. Spraying – Besides longer hand and wrist support gloves, wear a soft neck brace. I like one that fits under my shirt or jacket collar.
  7. Standing/climbing – Into those work boots, insert contoured gel pads. BONUS: Ankle/shin socks or supports.
  8. Stooping – Yes, affordable hip, thigh and femur supports are available – and work great.
  9. Breathing hazardous chemicals/fumes, etc. – Minimum: Inexpensive masks. Recommend: Adjustable respirators. Safest: Self-contained breathing/air flow apparatus.
  10. Skin and eyes – SUIT UP for skin. Wear snug-fitting safety glasses that cover entire area.

 

Eventually, you may become one of those painter’s statistics, regardless of what you do and precautions you take.

 

However, protecting and supporting your vital “painter parts” will certainly give you a one-up at minimizing those risks and maximizing your painter’s world shelf life.

 

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Protect your own body; it’s the only one that you’ll ever have!

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Stay safe. Live well. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

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