Construction Safety Training

Construction safety training is cheap compared to the cost of injuries, damaged equipment, and decreased productivity. How do contractors efficiently and effectively train work crews? The first step is to identify what type of training employees need and then evaluate what to invest in.  It is important to research what types of training options are available, evaluate availability, and make sure the training falls within the budget. Often the hardest part of construction safety training is to figure out how best to integrate the training into the day to day operation of the job site without cutting back on productivity.

There are a number of effective ways to train construction crews for safety and efficiency while they are on the job site. Well trained workers mean less chance of accidents and more efficient performance from the crew. Several companies now offer onsite safety and equipment training in order to ensure employees are technically efficient before setting foot on a job site.  For example, Caterpillar has developed a certifying leaning center in Mesa, Arizona which provides operators with operational and safety training via either instructors or web-based courses. As with many safety and equipment programs these courses offer pre- and post-testing to measure how much learning has taken place to help ensure that when someone gets certified that they have met all of the necessary criteria for operation and safety.

Contractors that have good safety programs and are aggressive about implementing their programs have good safety records and higher productivity. Simply creating a safety program does not guarantee a safer job site or better trained workers. It is important to have a process in place that is designed to ensure safety outcomes – a program that is tied to increased performance.  Just because a safety program is in place does not mean that there will be a significant decrease in accidents or broken equipment. With an increased emphasis on safety for construction sites it is now possible for even small contractors who might not have a huge safety budget to use online software, videos, or other internet support systems to train employees. These new safety and instructional tools are ideal to help improve safety records and decrease accidents on the job site.

Proper Footwear is Vital for Comfort in Construction

Often times, the choice of footwear is secondary to many construction workers, but good boots are vital. Choosing to don low-quality footwear is dangerous, and also exposes the workers to exhaustion and soreness.

More than 600 construction workers die annually due to slips and falls. If proper safety precautions are taken in regard to footwear, however, these accidents could be avoided. Work boots that maximize worker safety, obviously, protect the feet and toes, in addition to providing stability and balance in even the most perilous conditions. Worker safety, as brought about by necessary footwear, also proves beneficial for that construction worker’s respective company. Firms will not have to worry about the adverse effects of medical bills and possible lawsuits, but can rather more fully utilize each worker’s skill set to the fullest possible extent. As common sense would dictate, safety is mutually advantageous.

Currently, the market for dependable footwear is brimming with various new innovations. For example, some shoes have built-in composite toes. Made of carbon fiber, plastic or other materials, these are both light-weight but thick enough to provide suitable protection to the toes of the wearer. Others are made of Tough-Tec leather, a material that both protects the feet and toes from falling objects and is fire-resistant (a trait that has made them commonplace not only among construction workers, but firefighters, as well). Not to be forgotten are the soles of a shoe—some of these are made of Thermo Poly Urethane, which are impervious to scuffs, oil, and various chemicals.

Although safety is of the utmost concern, comfort should not be neglected. It is of paramount importance that shoes fit well, and consequences of poorly-fitting footwear include in-grown toenails, blisters, and other maladies. Luckily, distributors offer shoes in an array of sizes, so a perfect fit is always out there.

When searching for footwear, it is necessary to buy according to the demands of current projects (is the work environment cold, slippery, etc.?).  Also, do not be afraid to consult the internet or co-workers for advice. Finally, though the recommendations of a colleague may prove invaluable, it is important to test a variety of boots. With safety and comfort on the line, never settle for less than a perfect fit, a tedious shopping process, though possibly aggravating at the time, will pay dividends in the future.

Falls in the Workplace

With Spring in full swing and Summer around the corner, it is time to address the number one killer in the construction industry, falls!  During 2013, over 4600 deaths were recorded in private industry – 828 came as a result of a fall.  All of these worker deaths could have been avoided.  Here are some tips to avoid falls for you and your workers:

If your job site has you and your workers on upper floors or at the tops of buildings and / or other structures:

  1. Wear a safety harness – and make sure the harness fits.
  2. Have the edges of buildings, levels, and floors clearly marked.  Guard rails and lifelines are always suggested.
  3. Guard or cover roof holes, ground holes, skylights, or any other potential small fall hazard.

If you regularly use a ladder at your job site:

  1. Make sure the right ladder is in use for the job at hand.
  2. Always have the ladder facing in the correct direction and anchored evenly and properly.
  3. Always use three points of contact with the ladder.
  4. Never extend a ladder from a scaffold.
  5. Never stand at the top of a ladder and never attempt to overreach while on a ladder.

If your job site involves scaffolds for some of the jobs:

  1. Make sure the scaffold is the right size for the job.
  2. Always have the scaffold anchored properly.
  3. Boundaries on the scaffold should have safety bars and lines.
  4. Inspect the scaffold before use and after every work day.

Some other tips to make sure your workers lessen fall risks:

  1. Wear slip resistant shoes.
  2. Inspect all safety harnesses, ladders, and any other pieces of equipment that will be used at heights – before and after every work shift.
  3. Proper lighting should always be the norm for walkways and other danger areas on the job site.

These are some of the many tips that can help save you and your workers an unnecessary fall injury or death.  For more, visit OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.

Safety First in Construction

Safety is a serious matter in construction. The hazardous tasks taken on by construction workers to build, repair and maintain our buildings and physical infrastructure lend this group to incur the greatest number of fatal injuries in the private sector.  Accidents are not always avoidable, but some can be prevented.  To reduce injuries and fatalities it’s essential to why they happen and how to avoid them. Consider the following safety steps to better understand ways to avoid workplace accidents.

  • Know the risk- Training programs increase the awareness of the dangers present in various jobs, in addition to finding safe and productive ways to perform the task, minimizing the risk. Employers are responsible for ensuring there is adequate training.
  • Proper equipment is key- Not only is functioning construction equipment essential to performing a task safely, time needs to be dedicated to maintaining the equipment and training employees on its exact use.
  • Road safety- Many workplace injuries and deaths occur on the road. Make sure drivers are well-rested and avoid multitasking and distractions such as talking on a cell phone.
  • Safe physical behaviors- Encourage employees to begin the work day with stretches to prepare their bodies for the hard work ahead of them.  Then, make sure to teach safe lifting techniques to avoid back injuries, pulled muscles, and spinal injuries.  Provide training so tools are used ergonomically correct. Remind workers to avoid squatting or kneeling and provide a stable stool to avoid unnecessary strain.  Taking the time to stage materials in a logical way prevents injuries. Finally, remind employees the importance of adequate sleep and rest; being overtired creates undue risk.

Being proactive is the best way to avoid accidents at the workplace.  There is no place where safety is more important than in the field of construction work.

Hand Tool Safety

Taking the proper safety precautions with power tools is essential to workplace safety. Unfortunately, so much emphasis is put on staying safe while working with power tools, many times workers fail to recognize the pitfalls of working with hand tools.

Hand tools, when used incorrectly, can be very dangerous. Studies show that 8 percent of industrial accidents occur as a result of the improper use of hand tools. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of all of the safety precautions that come with the use of these tools.

Improper use of hand tools cause injuries that range from simple cuts, contusions, and abrasions to more serious conditions such as punctures, fractures, and amputations. These injuries occur when hand tools are used incorrectly. Examples of incorrect usage include:

  • Loosening a tight fastener by pushing a wrench instead of pulling.
  • Using undersized pliers to bend metal.
  • Removing a screw with a screwdriver while holding the item you are removing the screw from in the other hand.
  • Cutting toward your body with any type of cutting tool.
  • Using dull cutting tools.
  • Filing materials that are not secured in a vise.
  • Filing materials without a handle on the file.
  • Using tools that are the wrong size for the job.

One of the most important rules of working with hand tools is that these tools should never be used for anything but their intended purpose. Not only is it important to use hand tools in the correct way, it also is important that these tools are in good condition. If in doubt, do not use the tool. Here are some common hand tool defects to look for:

  • Hammers with chipped heads
  • Hammers with loose or broken handles
  • Screwdrivers with broken or worn tips
  • Cutting tools with dull surfaces
  • Chisels with mushroomed heads
  • Any tool that has had its temper removed

Be especially careful when working with older tools since with age comes the likelihood that these tools will break or become worn. Tools with wooden handles are especially dangerous.

When working with hand tools it is important that you always wear the proper safety equipment for the job. You also should carry tools by your side with any points and sharp edges facing down. And never use hand tools with oily or greasy hands.

Employee Involvement In Establishing a Safety Culture

There are many reasons that organizations and companies have high rankings in safety records.  Organizations that score high in safety have active employee involvement.  According to a 2013 survey by Gallup, over 40% of employees disengage from work when management chooses to ignore their suggestions.  This leads to lack of attention to detail in most every job responsibility, and this leads to a larger likelihood of accidents.  Here are some suggestions that might help to engage employees which will lead to establishing a good safety culture:

* Use employee surveys to identify work place hazards:  Don’t stop there.  Ask for suggestions to improve workplace environments and publish results for your employees to see that their input is being considered by management.

* Lead by example:  If a manager forgets, or refuses, to wear a hard hat in a high risk area – what will your employees think?  Most likely they will think that it is okay for them not wear a hard hat while working as well.

* Coach: See that managers and foreman consistently meet with and engage employees in safety on a regular basis.

* Administration, management, and employees:  All should be involved in setting safety goals and expectations. Having meetings with high representation from all areas will help facilitate this process.  Goals and expectations should be realistic and they should have the ability to be measured.

      Organizations that include employees in safety, will not only profit from reducing injuries and fines, but they will see that their involvement with their employees will help all areas of the business – including profitability.

Trenching and Excavation Cave Ins!

Now that Spring is arriving, it’s time to talk about excavation and trenching safety.  One of the biggest hazards on any construction site is the threat of accidents due to cave-ins.  As the ground thaws from a cold Winter, this hazard increases in potential for accidents and fatalities.  The National Institute for Safety and Health reported 350 deaths from excavation and trenching cave-ins from 2000-2009 with these startling statistics:

* 68% of the cave-in deaths occurred in companies of less than 50 employees.

* 46% of the cave-in deaths occurred in companies of 10 or less employees.

All of these accidents and deaths could have been avoided with precautions taken by both the contractors and the workers.  Here are some tips as an employer:

1. Plan any excavation and trench layout thoroughly before undertaking the job.  Safe and unsafe areas should be identified.
2. Have a competent person layout the type of protective system that will be used for the job along with the steps to complete the process.
3. Make sure that all workers that are involved are educated with safety tips and hazards associated with excavation and trenching sites.
4. Make sure a trench emergency action place is in place with steps to be taken and emergence contact information in case accident occurs.

Workers for companies that are involved with excavation and trenching are also responsible for their own well being.  Companies are not all liable for accidents, especially when safe practices are spelled out and the worker engages in an unsafe act on their own accord.  Tips for workers working in excavation and trenching areas:

1. Never enter an unprotected trench.
2. Inspect the protected trench before entering.
3. If their is evidence of a problem, exit the trench and notify contractor and/or competent safety person.
4. Never assume that there will be a warning sign before a cave-in happens.

It may be the companies money that is loss in event of an accident, but it is your life!  Protect yourself and others by being aware of the risks and dangers associated with excavation and trenching.

Why Perform Safety Inspections?

March is the time of year that most construction companies and manufacturing companies are gearing up for the busy part of their year.  With the planning of operations and purchasing of materials and equipment, most companies tend to forget that performing safety inspections at this time of year can identify potential hazards and prepare employees for safe habits around the workplace throughout the year.  Why should companies perform workplace inspections?  Well the first answer is positive statistics.  In 2012, a California workplace study showed that companies that performed workplace safety inspections had an over 9% drop in injury claims and a 26% savings on workers compensation costs.  Furthermore, inspected firms saved an estimated $355,000.00 in injury claims and compensation paid for during a four year span from 2008-2012.  OSHA recommends the following for what to look for in safety inspections:

1.  Look for hazards in any workplace environment.  Hazards can include inadequate machine or equipment guards, unsafe conditions, unsafe workplace habits or practices, biological hazards, chemical hazards, ergonomic hazards, and other miscellaneous physical hazards.
2. Diagram all workplace areas.
3. Inventory of all work equipment.
4. Inventory of all chemicals used in conducting work.
5. Preparing checklists to make sure proper people are responsible and in control of area potential hazard in the workplace.
6. Recording all inspections in a report in a timely consistent manner.  Reports must also be well written and include recommendations from the people performing the safety inspections.

Failing to conduct safety inspections on a regular basis opens companies up to more work place environment risks, injuries, and fines from a number of government agencies.  Conducting safety inspections helps to protect the bottom line, the profitability of any company.

First Aid Training is a Must

First aid training may seem like a thing of the past.  But, it may be one the most important safety skills your construction workers know.  In the event of an emergency, paramedics can often be on the scene in 5 minutes.  However, a lot can happen in those 5 minutes.  In the meantime, practicing some basic first aid can help a situation from getting a lot worse.  It may even be the difference between life and death while waiting for medical professionals to arrive.  Learn more about what first aid training is best for your construction workers.  In order for your company to have a comprehensive safety approach, you must include first aid training.

First aid is defined as emergency care given in response to a sudden illness or injury before medical professionals take over.  Those who are trained in first aid deliver the care.  OSHA requires that a job site has first-aid providers when there isn’t immediate access to a hospital or clinic.  Take these pointers into consideration:

Have the right supplies
first aid kit can range from gauze pads to automated external defibrillator (AED.)  Make sure you have enough first aid kits to go around.  These need to be checked regularly to ensure they have enough supplies.  As you begin to see patterns of what supplies are used most often, make sure those are readily in stock.

Provide training
The best supplied first aid kit is useless if the individual doesn’t know how to use the supplies.  So, make sure employees are provided regular training. Training ranges from first-aid techniques to CPR and ways to keep employees safe while providing care.  Even legal considerations should be part of the safety training.

The situation needs to be assessed
One of the first steps to first aid training is helping employees know how to assess a situation.  Not only does this help the responder know what action to take, but it helps the responder know if he or she would be in danger by providing care.  There are times when the responder will decide first aid care, and trip to the doctor’s office is all that’s needed and other times the responder will decide to call 9-1-1.  It’s important to be able to differentiate these circumstances.

ABC’s are what counts
The ABC’s stand for airway, breathing and circulation.  And, workers should be trained on how to assess each of these three for when the victim is conscious and unconscious.

Steps for when the medical professionals arrive
You’ll train your crew to stay with the victim until medical professionals arrive.  And, the responder should know what information to give to the professionals too.

The effectiveness of your entire safety program is at risk without training your construction crew in basic first aid.  A lot can happen in the time it takes medical professionals to arrive on the scene.  And, in a life-threatening injury or illness seconds count.  Make sure first aid training is part of your company’s overall safety program!

 

Trenching Safety

Trenching operations are common to many types of construction and maintenance projects and are inherently dangerous. Due to the great exposure, numerous accidents in connection with trenching occur every year. A few simple precautions, if observed, can serve to take most of the risk out of trench construction. Remember, never attempt to make a self rescue by entering a collapsed trench or excavation! There is a high risk that a secondary cave-in can happen!

SAFE WORK PRACTICES FOR TRENCHING AND EXCAVATIONS

  • Ensure that the competent person received specific training in, and is knowledgeable about, soil analysis, use of protective systems, and the requirements of 29 CFR 1926 Subpart P: Excavations and Trenches.
  • Ensure that the competent person has classified the soil using one manual and one visual test.
  • In soils other than solid rock, shale or cemented sand and gravel, the trench should be shored and/or braced, or terraced if over five feet in depth.
  • The trench should be shored and braced, regardless of length of time it will be open.
  • Ensure that excavations, adjacent areas and protective systems are inspected by a competent person before the start of work, as needed throughout the shift, and after rainstorms or other occurrences that could increase the hazard.
  • Place spoils, materials and equipment a minimum of two feet from the edge of the excavation.
  • Prohibit employees from walking or working under suspended loads.
  • Ensure that utilities companies are contacted and underground utilities are located as required by local, state and federal law.
  • Ensure that workers inside an excavation are within 25 feet of a means of access/egress.
  • Workers working in trenches should be separated to avoid being struck by fellow workers’ tools: 12-foot spacing is recommended.
  • Ensure that ladders used in excavations are secured and extend at least three feet above the edge of the excavation.
  • Ensure that employees are protected from cave-ins when entering or exiting from an excavation.
  • Ensure that precautions are taken to protect employees from water accumulation.
  • Ensure that the atmosphere inside the excavation is tested when there is reasonable possibility of an oxygen deficient, oxygen-enriched, combustible or toxic atmosphere or any other harmful contaminants.
  • Ensure employees are trained to use personal protective equipment and other rescue equipment.
  • Require workers to wear hard hats in trenches.
  • Ensure that materials and equipment used for protective systems are inspected and in good condition.