Making Construction Sites Safer for Everyone

July 07, 2015 - Tracy

Construction sites are among the most dangerous of all workplaces. Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that one out of every five worker deaths in 2013 occurred in the construction industry. And it’s not just personnel who are at risk; an April 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal reported that “at least once a month on average, a passerby is injured near a New York City construction site by anything from falling bricks, hammers and glass to windblown fences and collapsing sidewalk sheds.” One effective means of preventing such fatalities and injuries is the use of safety netting systems for both personnel and debris.</p>

According to OSHA, the leading cause of construction fatalities is falls. Yet, on the list of top ten most frequently violated OSHA regulations in 2014, the construction standard for fall protection (1926.501) was number one. Number three was the construction standard for scaffolding (1926.451), which includes fall protection as well. Many lives could be saved if employers adhered to the regulations and provided the required protective measures for personnel working at heights of 6 feet or more. The most common methods are guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems (including body harnesses and lifelines), and safety net systems.

US Netting offers personnel safety nets in several standard sizes, and we can custom fabricate nets to meet the needs of any job. Our nets are designed to meet or exceed the criteria set forth in OSHA standard 1926.502 and in American National Standards Institute (ANSI) document A10.11, “Safety Requirements for Personnel and Debris Nets.” The durable synthetic mesh can withstand heavy-duty drop testing (see photos and video here), and the synthetic rope borders have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds. The mesh is also specially treated for added resistance to UV exposure.

The OSHA construction standards include measures to protect workers not only from falling, but also from being struck by falling objects such as tools or materials. But the general public needs protection as well. In one particularly newsworthy incident in 2007, a steel bucket the size of a bathtub fell 53 stories in New York City, breaking windows on the way down and showering broken glass and debris that injured eight people. A Wall Street Journal analysis of NYC Department of Buildings records revealed that “from 2008 through 2014, there were 96 construction accidents involving pedestrians and other passersby in New York City, resulting in 155 injuries.” While OSHA covers workers, public safety is the domain of local governing bodies; for example, New York City has Local Law 61 of 1987, which includes requirements for the use of horizontal and vertical debris containment netting. Contractors should check for city ordinances that apply to them, and US Netting can help design a safety solution that fits.

Our debris netting is available in panels (stock and custom sizes) and by the roll, with some color choices depending on type. We also have some fire-retardant options, and the custom panels are UV treated for extra durability. Used in vertical applications, this netting wraps around open building sides, edges, or scaffolding to screen in and contain tools and materials. It is strong but flexible and can also be reused, moving from floor to floor as construction progresses.

Perhaps the most efficient and practical option is our combination personnel net with debris net layer. Debris netting by itself is not intended for use as worker fall protection; but when it is backed by our shock-absorbing, high-tenacity personnel safety netting, the combo net offers powerful protection for employees, bystanders, and property.

Employers who neglect fall protection and debris containment are taking huge risks. They risk losing time (to stop-work orders while accidents are investigated, to lost work hours while injured employees recover); losing money (fines for OSHA violations, workers’ compensation, insurance, costly lawsuits); and most significantly, losing lives. At US Netting, safety is one of our top priorities, and we are committed to creating quality solutions to provide that safety for everyone. Call our sales engineers at 1-800-331-2973 to discuss the solution that works for you.

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