There is a subtle art to keeping a building exterior strong, especially considering all the indentations and protrusions inherent in a structure.
Florida is especially vulnerable to the elements, as frequent hurricanes and floods regular threaten buildings.
Here are some of the potential hazards a unsecure exterior can present:
- Construction debris left on the roof or elsewhere (plywood, bricks, paint cans, ladders, tools, etc.)
- Loose bricks.
- Protective canopies used during construction.
- Scaffolds for workers who are doing work on the exterior of a building.
- Loose stonework.
- Terra cotta (mainly on older buildings).
- Siding material.
- Furniture on terraces and roof decks.
- Corrugated metal.
- Planters and potted trees.
- Fences and guard rails.
- Solar panels.
- Coping stones, which form the top of a roof parapet wall.
And given their wiry, gangly nature, antennas are often the worst offenders, with satellite dishes giving them a run for the title as technology progressed. Bob Moyer, president of Vanguard Management Group in Tampa, indicates that these, along with conduits, telephone and cable boxes can be genuine problems if not firmly affixed to a structure. It just goes to show America’s long-term love affair with digital communication is not without its perils, including being struck by flying metal.
Because of the many risks inherent in the exterior building construction is the reason that OSHA has very specific standards as to who can and cannot go into particular closed spaces; and ‘electrical,’ which is mostly self-explanatory.
“We recommend every company have ‘competent person’ training, whether that be in the fall protection category or otherwise, because OSHA standards require that a company, in particular situations, has on staff a person which it has designated internally its competent person in a specified area,” says Victor. “While those in a non-managerial position can generally get by with the basic, four-hour course, a supervisor overseeing those workers needs more extensive training.”
As a federal entity, OSHA standards are uniform across the United States. That said, there are regional specifics as well. “Here in Florida—and OSHA is very specific about this—we have what’s known as ‘heat stress training,’ which is very important,” notes Victor, as temperatures, predominantly in the summer but throughout much of the year, can get out of hand for those undergoing manual labor outdoors. “And I would venture to say that, with our low water table, when it comes to construction, digging, trenching and shoring, there should be specific considerations for sinkholes and the like.”