Rebar reinforcement bars are a common part of civil concrete work. Subsequently, rebar safety is an extremely important issue on construction sites.
There are two common types of accidents associated with rebar, they are implements and abrasions. Some other hazards associated with working with rebar include pinch points, striking other works, muscle strains due to heavy lifting, tripping, and falling hazards, etc. Unguarded protruding steel reinforcing bars are hazardous.
Even if you just stumble onto unguarded rebar you could impale yourself, resulting in serious internal injuries or death. Various accidents involving impalement due to unprotected rebar commonly occur in the construction industry across the globe.
How Do We Avoid Hazards?
- Strictly limit the access to the work area where formwork, protruding rebar, and rebar cages are present.
- When employees are working at the height above exposed rebar, provide fall protection/ prevention. This is the first and best line of defense against impalement.
- Guard all protruding ends of steel rebar with rebar caps or wooden troughs, or
- Bend rebar, so exposed ends are no longer upright.
Protection of protruding rebar can be provided in many ways using rebar caps, wooden troughs, carnie caps, or bending the rebar.
A Rebar cap is a protective cover for covering the end of a concrete reinforcing bar to prevent injuries caused by coming into contact with the end of the rebar.
All the protruding rebar at the site must be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement. Not all caps/guards provide the same level of protection.
In some cases, the force of a fall can cause rebar to push through the plastic cap and still impale a worker, or the worker can be impaled by the rebar and the cap together.
Only rebar caps designed to provide impalement protection, such as those containing steel reinforcement, should be used to protect against impalement.
The figures below show the sections of two types of rebar caps containing steel reinforcement that provides adequate impalement protection.
Mushroom style rebar caps without reinforcement plates are not sufficient to eliminate the hazard of impalement. Recent testing indicates that the standard mushroom style plastic rebar caps DO NOT provide adequate protection from impalement, even from a shortfall of three feet.
Manufacturers of the mushroom caps agree that this type of CAP is designed to provide SCRATCH PROTECTION ONLY and was never intended to prevent impalement.
Wooden Caps / Troughs:
Long 2 x 4 wood caps or other manufactured troughs can be used to effectively protect exposed rebar. While constructing such protective wood troughs on the site, they should be built according to an engineer’s drawings.
Carnie Cap is another effective way to cap exposed rebar and reduce the danger of impalement. In this arrangement, two caps are placed every eight feet and fixed wooden plank spans between the two caps to protect against impalement. It can be used in horizontal, vertical, and inclined applications.
Rebars can also be bent at the construction site for avoiding impalement and abrasion injuries. Bending is done to ensure that no exposed part of the rebar remains upright.
As per construction’s Earthwork, Concrete, and Masonry. All protruding reinforcing steel onto and into which employees could fall must be (for vertical rebar) guarded to eliminate the possibility of impalement, or (for horizontal rebar) capped to prevent abrasion/laceration injury.
Note: To protect from impalement, guards, caps, or covers must be manufactured for that purpose and must withstand a drop test of 114 kilograms (250 pounds) from a 3.05 meter (10 feet) elevation.
Everyone in the construction site should be vigilant around exposed rebar ends. Fall prevention is the first line of defense and covered rebar ends add extra insurance against impalement in case of a fall.
Be aware of the hazards working around the protruding rebar at construction sites. Your prompt actions could save you and someone’s life.