OSHA has issued a new bulletin alerting workers and employers about the hazards of unsupported panels and providing practical recommendations on ways to prevent them from collapsing. The bulletin offers safety information for workers involved in tilt-up panel erection––a common method used to raise concrete wall panels during the construction of many types of buildings and structures.
"We want to make every effort to prevent and reduce injuries and illnesses in the construction industry," said OSHA administrator John Henshaw. "Our new bulletin helps identify potential hazards for tilt-up panels and outlines ways to improve safety at these types of construction sites."
The new bulletin was developed following an accident in North Carolina, in which three workers were fatally injured when a 20-ton (18 t) concrete wall panel collapsed. A summary of the accident investigation by the North Carolina Department of Labor, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH-NC) identifies various hazards that contributed to the collapse, including a failure to install adequate bracing or removal of temporary braces prior to the completion of all permanent connections to the structure. The investigation also revealed that steel joists were not properly secured and that supervisors and employees did not receive proper training for tilt-up construction.
The bulletin recommends that employers take the following measures to prevent wall panels from toppling over:
• Maintain programs to provide frequent inspections of the job site;
• Instruct employees in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions, and OSHA regulations that are applicable to the work environment;
• Comply with all requirements for pre-cast concrete construction;
• Ensure that tilt-up panels are properly braced to resist wind and lateral forces;
• Instruct supervisors and employees not to remove temporary braces until roof structure and/or columns are in place to stabilize the building; and
• Use only certified welders when welding steel joists to embed on tilt-up wall panels.
For more information, visit www.osha.gov/doc.