Having worked with the safety and environmental folks at NASA Ames (we
were going to buy some land for private use) it seems they work they way
of all bureaucrats. It is always safer (for their jobs) to say NO. It
is always safer (for their jobs) to take whatever standard safety margin
is rational and proven, then double it, and just to be sure double it
again. The goal is too eliminate any chance of being criticized or
being sued, ignoring cost/benefit or actual safety/risk analysis, and
often reality has little to do with the regs, rules, processes. Ladders
would sure be safer if the top 10 rungs were disallowed.
We gave up after two years of their BS. What an incredibly good
decision it was in retrospect after talking to others that persisted and
I also remember the auction of UT's rocket test facility which was under
OSHA supervision. A rigger was required to remove any item from
shelving if it was more than 4 feet from the ground. Didn't matter if
it weighed 5 lbs - get a rigger. The auctioneer had so much grief he
called the whole thing off, moved everything off site and had a
do-over. This and many other experiences makes me a little skeptical
about OSHA rules being invoked as the right way to do something.
On 12/3/2010 6:16 AM, jimlux wrote:
> Rick Karlquist wrote:
>> Question for you experts: if it is forbidden to free climb
>> a tower, why is it OK to free climb a ladder? Not trying
>> to argue, just curious. I never climb towers, but often
>> climb ladders. I keep asking myself why I should feel
>> so safe on a ladder. (It is somewhat easier to fall
>> off a tower, admittedly).
> Tradition often has a lot to do with rulemaking. As does the number of
> people doing the activity. Lots of ladders, few towers.
> Think of this.. if you were to propose a new kind of power source for
> motor vehicles, and you said you were going to have thousands of
> essentially unattended power transfer stations where millions of
> essentially untrained people (some impaired by
> drugs/alcohol/tiredness/plain old idiocy) would pump 15 gallons of an
> extremely flammable fuel containing several potent toxins and
> carcinogens. And the transfer mechanism is little different than a
> garden hose with a hand nozzle. And you'd be able to pump that stuff
> into a plastic bucket, if you liked.
> Yeah, sure, you'd be laughed out of whatever venue you're proposing it in.
> Last year, at work, there was a big ladder safety training initiative.
> (this is characteristically NASA.. turns out that ladder related
> accidents are pretty high up on the list of causes, as in #1, I think.
> So, we have procedures, training, haven't had ladder certification
> requirements yet, but I'm sure it's coming.
> here's the ladder procedural requirement from Ames Research Center
> It varies among centers somewhat.. Ames says don't use the top 3 steps,
> KSC says just the top 2 are verboten. Maybe Floridians, being used to
> hurricanes and danger in general are more risk tolerant? Maybe Ames is
> covering their bets on a seismic event during ladder use? I guarantee
> that many work-hours have been expended on generating and promulgating
> these procedures.
> And, lest someone gripe about the procedure-happiness of NASA, it's a
> common feature of large organizations:
> 1) something goes wrong while doing an activity
> 2) someone important says "something must be done" (Congress does this a
> 3) A rational examination says that "not doing the activity" isn't
> feasible, so it becomes, "what can we do that will make it safer OR at
> the very least, address item #2"
> 4) Further examination shows that event #1 was just bad luck, and
> there's no reasonable modification of procedures that would change things
> 5) So, the decision is made to just "document what we do, and, if
> possible find someone else's recommendations to add"
> 6) some poor schlub gets the job of writing it up.
> #6, unfortunately, is sometimes a mechanism for giving someone a job who
> would be dangerous performing the activity being proceduralized. Maybe
> they're the person who actually was responsible for #1.
> But, realistically, there are stacks of OSHA rules about ladder usage too.
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