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OSHA etc. & Students

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Charc, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Note: This thread is an "in general" thread, not an "in my theater" thread.

    While I should be writing my huge bio project (see the other thread), I was thinking about OSHA, and similar organizations, and how they apply to students. I know they don't. So I was wondering if you guys feel that they should extend to students. My thought process here is that students (even in undergrad or grad schools) should always have a faculty advisor. That faculty advisor is going where they go etc, so OSHA's rules extend to them. Theoretically if the workplace is safe enough for that faculty member, then the "safety factor" should still be present for every student who uses the space. I can see, however, where in "student run spaces" or places where faculty have handed off control unofficially that these faculty members would not need OSHA coverage. This leaves students with no "coverage", even if theoretical. What about situations where faculty members don't care about the dangers of their workplace? You get the "old guys" the "I've been doing this for 20 years and nothing has happened to me." type, that refuse to comply to rules and sensible safety standards. What then? I don't believe that students (non-employees) can narc-out that employers aren't providing adequate safety measures.

    Also, how do you deal with the "politics" of an educational institution? I can see where a student who "narc'ed out" the dept, or those in charge to the administration would quickly fall from grace. What ways around this do students have, I'm really thinking undergrad and graduate programs here.

    What are your feelings on OHSA and its jurisdiction? Should OSHA be expanded, or should another government standards organization be created for the well-being of all, not just employees. What about clauses in OSHA, that pick of certain "niche" fields like theatre technician students, who've slipped through the cracks?

    While waiting for my fall arrest training to begin, I got an interesting mini-lecture on OSHA. Essentially, paraphrased, the central points were "OSHA has no idea what we do". Also, "Some of OSHA's rules, in our circumstances, contradict themselves, or don't provide standards for combination activities, such as Blue Foam and M.E.K". So, how do we as industry make the best of a system that sounds inherently flawed? How does the educational world work around these issues? What are your thoughts?

    "I wan' it clean, and on-topic. Boxers ready, fight!" (I've never even watched a boxing match, so that's probably horribly butchered.)
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I have a real job with my theatre department, so there's OSHA for me! I know that many college theatre departments work this way, as in many students who are in the program work in the department, and are thus covered by OSHA. However, this is not the case in high school - usually it's a free-for-all with theatre safety...
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    IF, you are on the clock that is. If you are not on the clock, then OSHA does not cover you.
     
  4. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    True, that, but just about all of my time on ladders, in catwalks, in genie lifts, and building scenery is on the clock. Almost everything else is sitting behind a console or working in the CAD design lab.
     
  5. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    Well, considering that OSHA really does point out a lot of the science behind what they are regulating, I just consider them a (somewhat byzantine) source of knowledge, reference, and enforcement.

    As for those out there that 'strongly dislike' the so-called Safety Nazi's (hey, if the shoe fits, I'll proudly wear it)...you can GTFO IMHO and go get injured on somebody else's watch- not mine. I gots no time for the stupid/high/arrogant.
     
  6. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    A lot of topics in the OP, so I’ll opine on a few:

    The issue who is covered: When any law is passed, there is always an issue about enforcement. One can pass a law to apply to all or to just a specified group, but the state still has to enforce the law and that costs money. At the enforcement level, OSHA is generally underfunded and under staffed. It is rare to see an OSHA inspector under normal circumstances. There is also an issue of state authority over an individual. Thus, OSHA doesn’t apply to me when I work on my house nor does it apply to me when I volunteer at my church festival. I’m guessing here, but I am assuming that the lawmakers would have assumed that children/students are in a safe environment at school and perhaps students safety is already covered by another agency. (A similar rationale applies to OSHA not applying to State and local employees. Many states have OSHA laws to cover the State employees and most often they repeat the US OSHA regulations.)

    Schools certainly don’t want the bad press of “Students Placed in Dangerous Conditions”. So, the issue in schools would appear to be lack of knowledge on the part of administrators and advisors. Hubris may be involved to. Simply stated, students need training for safety. Few students have outside experiences in construction work of any sort, and I suspect that much of that is around the house. Some parents are good examples, some aren’t. But, I don’t see anything sinister – I think its usually a lack of knowledge on the part of the adults in charge, and (right or wrong) they assume the students already have a basic safety background.



    Industry-specific rules: I think OSHA generally avoided industry-specific rules because most activities are common to all labor activities. OSHA is broken up into General Industry and Construction, and there are some specific areas, such as Ship Building. But industry-specific regulations would lead to both needless repetition of the same rules, or possibly overlooking tasks that are not apparent to the rule-writer or tasks that come up intermittently. Theatre work also straddles the two major categories: There are both construction and general industry activities that overlap. (One area that seems unique would be the operation of the fly rail system. There are rules for similar activities – hoisting for example – so it may be indirectly covered. But I haven’t taken the time to look into it.)


    Inherently flawed? I don’t think so. Often difficult to follow – yes. Has gaps – perhaps. As much as anything, there is the necessity of both the employer and the employee to participate. For years, there have been regulations in place that require shoring up trench walls during pipeline installation and like. But each year you still read about men trapped or killed in un-shored trench collapses.


    From the OSH law of 1970:

    …a) Each employer --

    (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;

    (2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

    (b) Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct….




    Joe
     
  7. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    The wider issues of work place safety and health were vital and we all applaud the rules that place responsibilty for workplace safety on both employer and employee. I follow the safety rules diligently (except for the d**n hardhat which I keep forgetting) and have been known to report unsafe workplaces when negotiations to fix them have failed.
    The devil they say is in the detail.
    In Australia I feel that we are faced with an increasingly complex and very difficult series of regulations which are made more and more confusing and more and more difficult to comply with. Many of these regulations are drafted without the input of professionals in the various areas and many of them come down from politicians who have no real idea of how industries work.
     
  8. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    Im glad i found this, I usually dont have time to look outside of the Lighting section, thanks for the holidays. But this coming semester I am doing a research project for my undergraduate degree in Human Science looking at how safety standards, codes, programs, published works and common practice apply to undergrad and grad level live entertainment worker safety. I will eventually get around to asking for anyones experiences and helpful anecdotes but im not at that stage yet.

    I have taken particular interest lately about student safety, after the unfortunate incident at Yale a few weeks ago. According to what I have been able to determine in my department, student workers or work study students are covered by their own health insurance but not workers comp or any other university policy, if however they are injured there is the always a possibility of a tort case due to loco parentis which states that the university has to ensure their safety, but I have some emails out trying to get a direct answer from the insurance department. Also, in the event of a negligence suit, when asked what standards should we apply to make sure our students are safe youd better believe that the OSHA standards are going to be used, so in effect they are applicable to students, although not directly. This is what i feel at the moment, we will see after six months of crawling through the codes and lawsuits etc.

    I feel strongly that there should be a regulatory agency devoted to student work and safety from college to primary school. I mean think about the chemicals you played with in your chem lab? did you ever see an MSDS, i mean in my course in highschool we played with murcury on a table top with no protection, because nobody knew better. I really want to see standards created and enforced and im planning on directing my career to see that it happens. So thanks Charc for starting this up. I'm really interested in what other people think about this too.
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    [user]lightbyfire[/user], I assume much of your paper will reference this book: Practical Health and Safety Guidelines for School Theater Operations, available here. Dr. Davidson is the authority on such matters. To hear him speak will, and should, scare your socks off.
     
  10. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    Indeed it will, I recently recieved it and will be reading it in full very soon. Most of my report will have to do with primary and secondary research that has been published in peer reviewed journls. while Dr. Davidson's book is full of great resources and anecdotes, from what i can tell it does not contain a lot on evaluation of existing safety programs in a strict scientific analysis. But i will know more about the direction i am heading soon. I'll post a separate thread at some point but i will certainly welcome suggestions, this isnt really a field that many people keep good records on, so data collection is definently going to be difficult. but thanks for the suggestion.
     
  11. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    lightbyfire

    You might want to check Department of Education laws and regulations at both the US and State level (although at the state level, you may have to decide which of the 50 states to look at. In my own experience, I've seen significant differences from state to state.) I suspect that student safety is addressed through these agencies and I believe the lead agencies are at the State Level. You may even find guidance/rules at the school district level, depending on the size of the school district (For example, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland).

    Joe
     
  12. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    jwl868,

    will do thanks, I'm a native of VA and NJ and they have drastically different systems of thought as far as school district setups, so maybe I can compare them? I'll have to take a look. Then there is the difference between what is mandated by law and how schools conform to those standards, and who ensures enforcment. Very interesting thank you.

    Another point i have been pondering, at a university level, state employees often don't fall under OSHA depending on state laws, so do student employees of state schools also not fall under OSHA? All questions I hope to answer, although im not sure what I will have time to acomplish in 5 months. I'll post more on my progress as it develops.
     

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