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NEII, OSHA news and more from across the nation

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Striking red tower planned for west Philadelphia; image courtesy of PAU/Brandywine

OSHA, VT Industry Team Up to Promote Safety

OSHA has entered into an alliance with key vertical- transportation (VT) industry stakeholders in an initiative to promote workplace health and safety and protect workers, officials announced in September. In the two-year project, OSHA and its VT industry partners will provide information, guidance and training resources to help reduce and prevent employee exposure to the “Focus Four” hazards — falls, caught-in or between, struck-by and electrocution — and other recognized safety and health hazards workers face during the construction, modernization, maintenance and repair of VT equipment. The alliance will also focus on providing information on employees’ rights and employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

Industry participants are the International Union of Elevator Constructors; the National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII); the National Association of Elevator Contractors; the Elevator Contractors of America; the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund; and the National Elevator Industry Educational Program. The project is being conducted under the OSHA Alliance Program, which aims to reach targeted audiences — such as employers and workers in high-hazard industries — and give them better access to workplace health and safety tools and information.

NEII News from California, Washington

California Standards Adoption in Flux

NEII reported in its NEII Insider newsletter that its Vice President of Government Affairs Amy Blankenbiller and former Otis Environmental, Safety and Health Manager David Holliman presented the California Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/ OSHA) Standards Board with information about the industry’s model codes (ASME A17.1/CSA B44), personnel training and other safety measures. The board is responsible for worker safety and associated regulations in the state, including the elevator safety orders (ESOs). Its current ESOs are based on the 2004 edition of A17.1/B44, which Cal/OSHA staff believes is not safe enough.

NEII and its member companies disagree that A17.1/B44 is not safe enough. Instead, they recommend California adopt a more recent edition (specifically, 2016 or 2019) without modification. The organization explained the following to Cal/OSHA: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code development process, how risks are identified and addressed and how modifications to the model codes can introduce safety risks. It also highlighted what it calls “the dramatic improvements to industry safety over the last 10 years” and showed how “the progress is the result of strong industry codes, coupled with robust training and dedicated company safety programs.”

The CAL-OSHA Reporter newsletter covered the issue (bit. ly/34d6gL0), though NEII said some misinformation is in the article. Cal/OSHA’s ESO proposal is expected later this year. NEII said it will file technical comments and plans to testify at any public hearings or meetings. It has already requested an introductory meeting with new Cal/OSHA chief Doug Parker to brief him on issues including, but not limited to, the board’s proposal.

Washington Adds 2015 A17.3 Requirements

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has adopted changes to its elevator rules, NEII reported in NEII Insider. Additional requirements for existing elevators and escalators have been added to “Washington Administrative Code 296-96, Safety Regulations and Fees for All Elevators, Dumbwaiters, Escalators, and Other Conveyances.” They are according to the 2015 ASME A17.3 safety codes. NEII said it supports Washington’s efforts to adopt what it calls “the critical safety provisions in ASME A17.3.” Details on the updates can be found at the department’s website: bit.ly/2HyD6w8.

Elevator, Escalator Problems Plague Miami Public Transit

Out-of-service and malfunctioning elevators and escalators are plaguing riders of the Metrorail and Metromover public-transit systems in Miami, with the systems’ 204 units out of service for a total of 37,233 h, the equivalent of 1,551 days, in 2018 alone, the Miami Herald reported. The figures came from a report by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who has formed an Elevator Working Group in an effort to improve maintenance, repair and modernization. That effort includes more thorough auditing of elevator contractors to ensure they are adhering to contracts.

Riders described scenarios in which escalators were dismantled and out of service for weeks, or stopped and started randomly. An examination of the county’s 1,268 elevators, escalators and moving walks ordered by county commissioners found that units at stations along the 22-mi. Metrorail system and 4.4-mi. Metromover system were out of service “much more often” than those of any other. The airport, for example, has 621 units — three times as many as Metrorail and Metromover — but were out 15,403 h, less than half the time of the transit systems’. County leaders are focused on fixing the issues and are consulting with transit authorities in cities such as NYC and Philadelphia that use in-house maintenance staff.

Bold Red Tower Promises Fresh Energy for West Philadelphia

A red, 34-story tower planned by Brandywine Realty Trust that, with its shorter twin, will anchor a US$4- billion development being done in partnership with Drexel University, promises to transform a stretch of barren blocks in west Philadelphia along John F. Kennedy Boulevard, WHYY reported in September. Architect Vishaan Chakrabarti of PAU drew inspiration from the city’s brick architecture for a design that blends terracotta, black brick, metal and limestone. Certain to stand out on the skyline, the tower drew nearly universal praise from members of Philadelphia’s Civic Design Review Committee, with one member describing it as “very daring and attractive.” The 34-story tower will have 930,000 ft2 of office space and 6,600 ft2 of retail, while the shorter, 361-ft-tall building will house 326 residences and 9,600 ft2 of retail. A construction timeframe was not given.

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