News and information for the worldwide dredging industry

Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print

Contractors Protest Safety Manual Change

The Corps of Engineers Safety Office presented proposed revisions to their official safety manual to industry in late 2002, giving contractors just four days to respond to the changes in the comprehensive document.

The Dredging Contractors of America (DCA) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) informed LTG Robert H. Flowers, chief of engineers, that this was not sufficient time to review the changes, and were granted a 30-day delay.

“This process (revising the safety manual) had been going on since 2000,” said Torgersen, stating that their members had not been asked for comments or suggestions before November of 2002.

By mid-January, 2003, the DCA had prepared 163 comments on the revisions, including suggestions for changing the wording or eliminating certain requirements altogether.

“The theme of the changes was ‘the Corps of Engineers will now run your dredge site’ ” Torgersen said, adding that the changes put contractors in the position where paperwork would take up a significant amount of time on the job.

“One regulation stated that any new process would require a safety analysis to be submitted and approved by the Corps,” he said. The wording of this regulation implied that simple jobs, such as moving an anchor, if done differently than before, would require approval by the Corps.

Another change required that for every piece of equipment in use, a list of every applicable government regulation affecting that equipment be posted.

The DCA report cites 163 specific regulations, describes the problems involved, and suggests a solution. Some examples follow, taken from the DCA report:

Cite #2
01.A.06. The Contractor shall erect and maintain a safety and health sign and bulletin board in an area commonly accessed by workers. The bulletin board shall be maintained current, in clear view of on-site workers; and protected against the elements and unauthorized removal. It shall contain at least the following safety and health information:
(1)Map denoting the route to the nearest emergency care facility.

(2) Emergency phone numbers.

(3) Copy of most up-to-date APP

(4) Copy of current AHA(s).

(5) OSHA Form 300A

(6) Safety and Occupational Health deficiency tracking log.

(7) Safety and Health promotional posters.

(8) Numbers of hours worked since last workday injury.

(9) OSHA Safety and Health Poster

(10) Confined space entry permit (if required)

Problem
This seems like an attempt to make things easy for the USACE inspector to view a "nice" safety presentation, but not an attempt to make things safer. The problem here is that the APP and the AHA's are large documents that are not easy to mount on a bulletin board and not easy to use when mounted on a board.

The AHA's need not be located at the dredge site, and are not a "front line" safety document if the company is using SOP's or procedures that contain the necessary controls for the job. Having them posted on this board will lead to confusion of the risks and controls items identified in the AHAs and controls established in a company’s safety management procedures. It is for the company, not the USACE to decide where the best location for the manuals is.

APPs and AHA's are best kept in a quiet location at a table with good lighting where they may be studied while sitting comfortably. The location as described in the requirement is not likely to be such a space.

Having the APPs and the AHAs on this bulletin board makes it less likely that they will be read, and therefore less useful in making the dredge sites safer.

Confined Space entry permits should be held at the location where they will be in use, not on this board. Blanks forms are best to be held in a secure place not accessible to anyone who is not able to issue such permits, otherwise persons who do not have such permission might mistakenly issue them.

APPs contain submission requirements such as the medical evaluations of divers that contain personal information that should not be posted on a bulletin board in a public space. If Deficiency Tracking Logs are to be a management document to improve safety management, they should be in a location from which management occurs, such as a project office, not in a public hallway.

Solution:
Strike items 3,4, 6 and 10 from the list entirely

Cite #8
01.A.13 c. The names of the competent/qualified person(s) required for a particular activity (i.e. excavations, scaffolding, fall protections and other activities as specified by OSHA) will be identified and included in the AHA. Proof of their competency/qualification must be attached.

d. The AHA will be continuously reviewed and modified as necessary to address changing site conditions or operations.

Problem:
This is an administrative nightmare. As employees move in and out of long projects the contractor and the USACE will waste time rewriting and re-approving documents. The contractor maintains these proofs should the USACE want to see them to provide to the USACE copies and constantly update them does not make the job safer, it takes time away from safety. Not all competencies have easily identifiable certificates.

The idea that the AHA will be constantly reviewed and modified as necessary when combined with the new requirement to perform AHA’s for every activity each time it is performed regardless of how many times it has been performed before, and the requirement that the USCAE approve the AHA,s means that the USACE safety staff has to approve each AHA for every activity, before we perform it. This will require 24 hour a day coverage of each site by the USACE and possibly several inspectors, as there may be several activities for which we need AHA’s at the same time on different locations at the same time. Consistency of effort leads to safety, constantly changing the way you perform a task leads to chaos and injuries.

Solution:
The words "identified and included in the AHA. Proof of their competency/qualification must be attached" should be stricken and replaced with "identified and maintained by the contractor". Change “The AHA will be continuously reviewed and modified as necessary to address changing site conditions or operations.” to “The contractor will be aware of changes to the operating environment that may require additional precautions”

Cite #9
01.A.17 The Contractor shall employ, at the project site, at least one person competent to manage the Contractor's accident prevention program. That person(s), as a minimum, must have completed the 10-hour OSHA Construction safety class within the last three years and shall be on duty at all times when work is being performed and shall be responsible for enforcing and implementing the Contractor's Safety and Health Program (See USGS-01525 for level of competence selection criteria). That person(s) shall be responsible for, as a minimum, assuring safety and health requirements are enforced; conducting daily inspections; completing safety and health administrative reports, logs, etc.; providing and attending safety meetings; conducting mishap investigations; attending safety and health preparatory inspection meetings, attending the pre-construction conference; maintaining the safety and health safety and health deficiency tracking system; and enforcing accepted APPs and AHAs.

Problem:
The USACE is telling the contractors which of their employees will do which work. This is not the USACE's role. The same person does not have to organize the safety meetings as attends the pre-construction meeting. The contractors need the right to assign whomever they feel is best qualified to manage the deficiency tracking system, which may not be the same person who completes health and administrative logs. This seems like an attempt by the USACE to require a dedicated full-time safety officer on each job site. This is a huge burden to small companies. What about USACE Districts who have requirements for site safety officers that exceed this one? Will you start enforcing this requirement on them ? This would be great if this requirement was the same across all districts. Why should the local site safety officer perform a mishap investigation, when it could possibly be one of his failures to cause the accident. In the same paragraph you give the site safety officer the responsibility for safety, and the responsibility to investigate safety failures. This is a direct conflict of interest. A company needs to assign unbiased persons to conduct accident investigations. What if the site safety officer is on the crew of a hopper dredge, and it isn’t in place for the pre conference? The USACE also sets up a confrontational attitude between safety and operations. The contractors feel that it is the responsibility of operational staff to enforce the accepted APPs, not a USACE established "safety police force". This takes us in the wrong direction, away from an integrated approach to safety.

Solution:
Strike 01.A.17 entirely

Cite #13
01.D.05 ( c ) provide a copy of workers compensation claims reports to the government representative upon request.

Problem
This is private corporate financial information that is not within the purview of the USACE.

Solution:
Strike the change entirely

Cite #24
03.A.07 a. Employees traveling to endemic areas or those required to perform work activities in areas known to be a potential source of disease transmission must be knowledgeable of the following facts before activities commence:
7) Symptom recognition and medical referral. Numerous diseases, such as Lyme Disease, West Nile

Virus, Hantavirus, Histoplasmosis, Human Ehrlichiosis, Rabies, Rocky-Mountain Spotted Fever, Dengue Fever, Malaria and others can be associated with some work activities or travel to endemic areas. CDC has fact sheets and information available for training and travel purposes. This information can be found through the following website: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/diseases.htm#enceph

Problem:
Who specifies these areas? How do we know if we are in one? Are there any areas that do not have insects? What level of training is acceptable? Who is qualified to do this training? Also do all the persons on site need this information or do just the medical representatives on site? How are laymen going to keep the symptoms of these very similar diseases separated in their minds? Is this going to cause a panic? This is well beyond OSHA requirements.

Solution:
Require this information to be available at the dredge site, and that the medical personnel on site be knowledgeable of these things, not all employees.

AGC RESPONSE
“It came to our attention in December that the Corps was practically ready to go to press with a newly-revised safety manual,” said Dan Renfro, executive vice president of the Mississippi Valley Branch of the Associated General Contractors of America (MVAGC).

“We were aware that the manual was planned to be revised, but we had no idea the time line was so tight,” he said.

He asked members to review the draft manual to see how it would impact them, and there was a universal response that there was a focus on administrative details and new requirements that would not contribute to jobsite safety, and that many of the new requirements were unacceptable as drafted.

Renfro and his staff did a cursory revue and wrote to Chief of Engineers LTG Robert B. Flowers recommending that additional time be given before going to press, to allow for a thorough review by stakeholders

“We do not perceive a crisis in safety out there at this time,” said Renfro. “The statistics just do not indicate such urgency in getting a revised manual out,” he said.

“There is an old engineering adage: ‘if you want it bad, you’ll get it bad’”, he said , “and none of us wants anything but a first-class product from this effort”.

The AGC wants a streamlined safety manual that is revised with the input of individual private contractors and Corps field safety management personnel who have to work with the manual. He has suggested to General Flowers that a joint working committee be formed of these people to make the revisions.

“The Corps of Engineers is our strong partner, our primary business source and customer, so it is in our interest and the Corps’ interest to have an effective, user-friendly document that focuses on health and welfare of people and less on the administrative part of it,” he said. The revisions were apparently drafted by people who do not understand the massive implications of the proposed changes, he said. As he spoke to IDR on January 16, a working group of nine contractors, led by Phyllis Harden of Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel and chief of MVAGC’s safety committee, were working through the draft manual paragraph by paragraph to finalize the changes they will propose to the Corps.

The Mississippi Valley branch of the AGC is totally federal water resources-focused, with 95 percent of the contracts coming from the Corps of Engineers and the remainder from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). There are 50 member firms who are construction contractors and 75 associate members such as material and equipment suppliers, accounting firms, law firms and other companies who support the contractors. The MVAGC area includes the entire Mississippi Valley from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and its headquarters are in Memphis, Tennessee.

Add your comment:
Edit Module