Safety Focus of the Week: Working Over Water
Many of our projects involve working over or near water such as: bridges, dams, water treatment plants, or waterfront seawalls. OSHA specifically addresses this work condition in very plain language:
Employees working over or near water, where the danger of drowning exists, shall be provided with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vests.
Prior to and after each use, the buoyant work vests or life preservers shall be inspected for defects which would alter their strength or buoyancy. Defective units shall not be used.
Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line shall be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations. Distance between ring buoys shall not exceed 200 feet.
At least one lifesaving skiff shall be immediately available at locations where employees are working over or adjacent to water.
Although clear on the requirements, the standard is open to interpretation for applicability. For example, do you need a boat when working near a tank in a water treatment plant – probably not for a typical size tank. Would you need fall protection if you are working over water – not necessarily if the main risk is drowning
These types issues are addressed in an OSHA response to a letter from Cianbro Corporation that is published on line:
The essence of the OSHA response is that the employer needs to assess the risks and take appropriate measures to protect the workers for those risks.
Finally, ECI has personal flotation devices equipped to accept a fall arrest harness to provide all necessary protection.