Simple Mistakes Cause Dangerous Falls

Working on the WallAccording to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls from elevation are one of the leading causes of death on construction sites. Such falls are the cause of over 800 hundred fatalities each year.

Since safety must be the first priority on every construction project, there are a multitude of important measures that should be taken to prevent falls and protect workers. In order to minimize fall-related risks, certain hazards must be assessed before work begins: covering holes and installing safety nets below bridges, for instance, can mean the difference between life and death. Providing adequate safety gear and up-to-date equipment is an employer’s responsibility, as well.

The usage of faulty scaffolding or damaged, rusting ladders that rest on shaky ground creates ripe conditions for harmful accidents to occur. The implementation of personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), which help to anchor workers during many high rise construction projects, has proven to be a great safeguard against falls as long as the accoutrement adheres to the mandatory safety criteria and workers know how to use it.

Training employees to understand how to use such equipment properly and ensuring that they recognize perils involved in their labor are very critical steps in maintaining the security of a work site. For instance, forgetting to buckle the belt of a PFAS harness could place a construction worker in serious danger of injury. Making sure employees wear appropriate shoes, understand how to work around the weather, and have an unobtrusive environment are also good ways to decrease the risk of tripping or falling.

In addition, something seemingly simple can pose a real threat to workers’ welfare; if a construction worker operating several feet or more above ground does not realize the possible implications of careless footing or allowing oneself to be distracted from the job at hand, he or she puts his or her life and wellbeing in jeopardy. Even to believe that carrying tools while climbing a ladder is probably an insignificant mistake shows ignorance that should be rectified before a laborer gets thrown off balance in the process.

Management of the safety for any construction site is no easy task as these few examples illustrate, so depending on hard hats and a caution sign is hardly enough. In order to keep construction workers out of harm’s way and a work site functioning competently, considering the assistance of a reliable safety services firm that specializes in employee training is a smart decision to make.

Struck-By Hazards One of the Most Lethal

300-dpi-proactive.pngStruck-by hazards are one of the most lethal construction-site accidents, second only to falls. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 79 construction workers were killed after being struck or hit by an object in a construction zone.

Struck-by accidents occur when a construction worker is hit by a falling, flying, swinging or slipping object. Such accidents are most likely to occur when a construction worker is walking or working below an elevated surface, such as a scaffold, or when materials are being moved overhead.

Many construction workers are victims of struck-by accidents through no fault of their own but instead by the actions of another person. In order for everyone working in or around a construction zone to be as safe as possible, certain guidelines must be strictly adhered to by all workers in that zone.

Here are some important reminders for all construction workers regarding struck-by hazards:

  • Always keep a safe distance from suspended loads.
  • Flying objects can be created by power tools or any job that requires pushing, pulling, or prying. Grinding or striking materials can also create hazards.
  • Flying objects aren’t just large objects. When air is pressurized above 30 psi it can drive particles and oils through skin. Safety glasses, googles, or face shields are a necessity in such situations.
  • Loads should always be secured and lifted evenly to avoid slipping.
  • Never exceed the lifting capacity of cranes and hoists.
  • Hard hats need to be worn at all times.
  • Tools and materials need to be secured so as not to fall from above.
  • Never walk or work under loads that are being lifted and always stay out of the swing zone.
  • When working near heavy equipment, make sure operators can see you.
  • In traffic zones, always make sure that there are barricades separating the construction site from motor vehicle traffic.

Of all the safety measures employers need to take to keep construction workers safe from struck-by hazards, regular safety training is one of the most important. After all, keeping workers safe from any hazard is a group effort. If just one person doesn’t comply with safety regulations, it can put everyone else at risk. Safety training is a great way to keep workers safe and make sure they comply with all state and federal safety regulations.

For more information please contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

Preventing Hearing Loss on the Job

Industrial worker wearing all safety clothing necessary, such asIt is common knowledge that construction workers are at a high risk for hearing loss. After all, every day they work with loud equipment such as jackhammers and large machinery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 82 percent of those who suffer from noise-related hearing loss in the United States are construction workers.

In an effort to stem construction-related hearing loss, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has two protocols related to reducing hearing loss in the construction industry. The first protocol limits the period of time a construction worker is allowed to be exposed to noise greater than 90 decibels. The second protocol requires hearing protection devices to be used when noise exposure is greater than 90 decibels or when a worker is exposed to that level of noise for more than eight hours.

Several construction equipment manufacturers sell noise reduction equipment, but this equipment is more expensive that normal construction equipment. The equipment may be worth the extra money, however, when you factor in the importance of keeping construction workers safe from the damaging effects of noise, and the cost of workers compensation or disability claims that may be filed by workers in the event that their hearing is damaged.

While ear plugs are the most common way construction companies and workers try to reduce exposure to damaging noise, ear plugs can put workers in dangerous situations by blocking out too much noise. A construction worker wearing ear plugs risks not hearing alarms or other warnings while working in high-risk danger zones. Therefore, it is important that ear plugs do not block out all noise.

In addition to ear plugs and noise reduction equipment, there are several other steps that can be taken to prevent hearing loss. These include the strict enforcement of all OSHA regulations related to reducing hearing loss. Construction workers also should be rotated in and out of loud noise zones and, whenever possible, loud equipment should be operated outside of the main work zone.

Of course, safety services training is essential in order to make sure that construction workers know how best to prevent hearing loss. After all, the safety and health of its employees is the key to any company’s success.

For more information please contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

Eye Protection Vital for Safety on Construction Sites

S1608AAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), thousands of eye injuries occur on the job each day, and unfortunately, construction workers have a particularly high risk of eye injuries. Masonry work, powdered cement, windy conditions, and hammering are all potential eye hazards that construction workers encounter daily. With the potential for serious injury and costly worker compensation claims, companies need to start offering safety services and training to reduce the risk of eye injuries on the job.

Most Injuries Can Be Prevented                     

Most eye injuries that occur on construction sites could have been prevented. Many injuries occur because a worker wasn’t wearing eye protection. Others occur because the worker was not wearing the correct type of eye protection for the specific job. Since most injuries can be prevented, it shows how important it is for workers to keep their eyes protected with eye protection, including goggles, safety glasses, and face shields.

Common Workplace Eye Injuries

The most common workplace eye injuries occur due to small objects or particles abrading or striking the eye, such as dust, wood chips, or fine slivers of metal. Falling or flying objects often cause injuries when they strike the eye, and in most cases, those objects are so tiny that they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Less common types of eye injuries include chemical burns, blunt force trauma, and thermal burns to the eye. In some cases, objects may penetrate the eyeball, causing serious damage.

The Cost of Eye Injuries

Eye injuries do more than damage the vision of construction workers – they’re costly as well. Workers compensation payments, medical bills, and lost productivity on site combine to cost companies millions of dollars each year. The best way to improve worker safety, reducing these high costs for companies, is to implement and enforce safety procedures on the job.

Improving Compliance with Personal Protective Equipment

Why do so many workers fail to wear eye protection on construction sites? Many workers find personal protective equipment uncomfortable, and workers are less likely to wear protective eyewear if that is the case. To improve compliance, companies need to focus on providing comfortable and practical personal protective equipment. Features that improve comfort include vented frames, gel or padded nosepieces, and cushioned brows. Some companies even find that offering eye protection in various styles and colors also improves compliance.

To improve worker safety and compliance, companies need to provide proper training, as well. Training helps workers identify situations when they need to use protective eye equipment, reducing the risk of injuries on the job. Training sessions should address when eye protection should be worn, compliance enforcement processes, where protective eyewear is located, and how replacements can be obtained.

Eye protection on construction sites is just as important as hard hats and other types of safety equipment. Companies must train workers in eye safety while providing comfortable, cutting-edge eye protection equipment. While training and equipment requires an investment, the reduction in on-the-job injuries will reduce costs associated with eye injuries, making the investment an excellent choice.

For more information contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

Challenges of the New and Emerging Contractor

Safety Engineer CloseupStarting a new business is no easy task. Every new business owner goes through the stress of getting on their own two feet, but a construction contracting business can be very complex. One of the unique challenges of the contractor is the fact that they have to attain a variety of legally required permits and bonds. A contractor’s ability to obtain to secure work, especially in the public sector, is severely limited, if not unattainable, without the proper surety bonds. Many surety bond providers will offer a complete list of the bonds needed for a business owner including: bid bonds, performance bonds, labor/material payment bonds, performance, supply, and license bonds. The first step towards establishing surety capacity is to contact a professional surety bond producer who can understand and meet your needs.

While starting your contracting business may look like an uphill battle, the surety industry is not quite as intimidating as it looks. According to the Surety Information Office (SIO), “The surety industry is reaching out to new and emerging contractors to help them obtain their first bond, increase bonding capacity, and ultimately become better businesses.” In the SIO publication “Helping Contractors Grow: Surety Bonding for New and Emerging Contractors” there is a variety of information that includes tips on your relationship with your surety company, the prequalification process, and programs for new and emerging contractors.

The majority of your concerns with your surety company should focus on their knowledge and compatibility. Do they fully understand the surety process and all the unique underwriting standards of your particular bond? Do they match your needs as a contractor? These should be simple and easy questions to fill out once you have meet with a professional bond agent. The real pressures of obtaining a bond are the pre-qualifications, which are consistent for every contractor. It isn’t all about your financial strength (that is just the first step). According to the SIO publication, bond companies look for “good references and reputation,” “the ability to meet obligations,” and “experience that matches the contract requirements.” They want a clear picture of your company, and well-rounded proof of your future success.

The most encouraging piece of information is the existence of programs that are developed specifically for helping new contractors obtain their first bond. Many surety companies have developed programs such as the “Model Contractor Development Program,” along with all the information available through the SIO. The Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) and its members work to ensure that bonds are available and accessible to qualified contractors through the Model Contractor Development Program. They provide education on becoming a bondable business, assist in finding federal, state, and local resources, along with help during the actual bonding process.  A surety bond is meant to keep up business and service standards, not bring business owners down.

For more information contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

Protecting Your Workers from the Summer Heat

Laying AsphaltThe days are getting warmer and longer and summer is on its way. For many people that means sand and sun and time at the pool, but for construction workers – and others who work outdoors for a living – summertime is not all fun and games. In fact, it can be downright dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not put in place.

So how can you protect yourself and your employees when the temperatures soar? The most important way is to educate your employees to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion. These include cramps, thirst, dizziness, nausea, faintness, fever, headache, and the absence of sweat. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which is a medical emergency that can be fatal.

When it comes to working outdoors in extreme heat, the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings especially true. In order to ensure the safety of all outdoor workers, the following precautions should be taken:

  1. Acclimate workers to the environment. Although prolonged exposure to extreme heat is dangerous, by progressively exposing workers to severe conditions over a period of time such dangers can be greatly reduced.
  2. Make sure workers are drinking plenty of the right kinds of liquids. Cool water or other non-caffeinated beverages should be consumed by all outdoor workers. It is important that plenty of these types of drinks are placed throughout the work site.
  3. Restrict physically demanding tasks. Physical exhaustion can lead to heat exhaustion so during periods of extreme heat it is important to try to limit such activities. If such activities cannot be avoided, it is important to cycle through workers so no one person is left doing all of the heavy lifting all of the time.
  4. Provide some relief from the heat. Air-conditioned enclosures, or at least shaded areas, where workers can take a break and replenish fluids periodically throughout the day may seem like an extravagance but will go a long way toward keeping workers up for their work in the blazing hot sun.
  5. Adjust the schedule. Jobs that are particularly taxing or out in the open with no shade should as much as possible be scheduled for before or after the hottest parts of the day.
  6. Encourage workers to keep an eye on one another. Many times an individual won’t admit – or won’t know – when he or she is becoming dangerously overheated. Make sure everyone checks on one another and if a problem is suspected, medical assistance should be called for immediately.

The nature of the construction industry means often working in less than ideal conditions – including extreme heat. However, by training employees on the signs of heat exhaustion and taking the proper precautions to protect workers in extreme heat, the risks to your employees can be substantially reduced.

For more information please contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

New EPA Emphasis on EPA RRP Lead Renovators

Lead and toxins have been a top EPA_LeadSafeCertFirm-v2_4Cconcern of national agencies in recent years, but this past year two agencies have dialed up the pressure on lead poisoning focus.   In addition to OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made their presence known in the lead and toxic substances arena with numerous fines and penalties to almost 40 major home renovation companies between May 2013 and January, 2014.  Among the many dangers and effects of lead poison are anemia, lower intelligence in children, hyperactivity in children, hearing problems, slowed growth, reduced growth of fetus in pregnant women, and low birth weight.   The EPA requires all individuals and firms who perform abatement projects (especially housing built before 1978 and those that are child-occupied) to be certified and follow specific work practices.  This means that all contractors will have to follow the lead renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) standards.  Completing the Lead Renovator course will allow companies to continue to bid for government jobs and to display the EPA’s “Lead Safe” logo on clothing, signs, websites, and automobiles.

To make sure you are covered:

  1. Take the Lead Renovator Course as soon as possible (typically 6-8 hours of class time).
  2. Make sure that areas that you are working in are measured for lead and toxins in the air.  OSHA says that employers shall make sure that employees are exposed to no more than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air on average.
  3. Be thorough that all of your employees are protected and that your company’s Personal Protective Equipment, such as masks and respirators, are up to standards and not faulty.

For more information contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

OSHA 13 National Emphasis Programs

Did you know OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. OSHA’s 13 National Emphasis Programs are:

  • Combustible Dust (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-008)
  • Federal Agencies (OSHA Notice 13-02 (FAP 01)
  • Hazardous Machinery (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-003)
  • Hexavalent Chromium (OSHA Instruction CPL 02-02-076)
  • Isocyanates (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-017)
  • Lead (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-009)
  • Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-016)
  • Primary Metal industries (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-013)
  • Process Safety Management (OSHA Instructions CPL 03-00-014, CPL 03-00-010)
  • Shipbreaking (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-012)
  • Silica (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-007)
  • Trenching and Excavation (OSHA Instruction CPL 02-00-069)

Contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232 for any questions.

Horseplay and Practical Jokes

Horseplay and practical jokes have always been part of most every work environment.  Normally horseplay and practical jokes are instigated by the person wanting to be the center of attention and the newest employee is most often the victim.  Horseplay and practical jokes will normally receive a lot of laughs – until someone gets seriously injured, and then it is no laughing matter.  The following items would be considered horseplay on the job: Tickling a machine operator in the ribs; greasing steps or ramps; shoving, pushing, or tripping a person; pouring itching powder on a co-worker’s towel; pulling a bench stool  from under a person’s seat; and wrestling or scuffling all could be considered good natured fun – that is until someone gets injured!  All companies should have a no tolerance view on horseplay and practical jokes, as the company is liable for their employee’s actions while on the job.

Remember that a blast of air can cause a person to be blinded or have their eardrums ruptured, along with tossing up debris that may find its way into someone’s eyes.  Always be on the lookout for practical jokers in your organization as one simple prank could set your company back – and depending on the severity of the situation, set back for a long time.