Every year approximately 100 people are killed during construction work (2 a week). The cost of accidents can be measured in both financial and human terms. The second of these may easily be the greater loss and have the longest and farthest reaching effect. A few minutes spent learning how to avoid accidents represents time well spent. These Tool Box Talks address the most basic points concerning topics, activities and locations. They are designed to be fleshed out into short talks of 10 to 15 minutes duration without requiring specialist knowledge on the part of the speaker. The talks should be concise and punchy, in order to get the message across. A pattern of weekly talks is suggested. Every employer has a legal obligation to inform, instruct and train operatives about the risks they face in their work. Safety Awareness Talks can play a part in this and will promote the discussion of safety procedures. They should be repeated at intervals. A record must be kept of who has received this training. On the back of each Talk Sheet there is an attendance form, which should be completed and returned to the person in charge of safety in your company. Proof of training may be required at a later date.
Tool Box Talk Topics
- HYDRAULIC EXCAVATORS: LIFTING WITH SLINGS
- HEARING PROTECTION
- SHIFT WORK DANGERS
- HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS FOUR ROUTS OF ENTRY
- BASIC ELECTRICAL
- SECURING A CONSTRUCTION SITE
- BEING SAFETY ‘AWARE’
- GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
- SAFETY SIGNS AND NOTICES
- MANUAL HANDLING OF LOADS AT WORK
- WORKING WITH HAND TOOLS
- WEARING AND CARING FOR PPE
- WORKING AT HEIGHTS 1. LADDERS
- WORKING AT HEIGHTS 2. STEP LADDERS
- WORKING AT HEIGHTS 3. TRESTLE SCAFFOLDS
- WORKING AT HEIGHTS 4. TOWER SCAFFOLDS
- WORKING ON ROOFS
- NOISE AT WORK
- BACK SPRAINS AND STRAINS
Hydraulic Excavators: Lifting with Slings
An excavator is used primarily to dig and load. A crane is the preferred method for lifting materials or equipment; however, there may be times when using an excavator is apractical solution to an immediate need. If using the excavator is the practicable solution, good planning will maximize both the safety of the workers involved and the efficiency of the lift.
The lifting, lowering, or moving of workers in the bucket or suspended from the boom or bucket of the excavator is not permitted.
Before using an excavator to make a lift, go through these safety checkpoints first:
- Are the load charts applicable for the excavator and available in the cab?
- Is the operator qualified to make the lift? *
- Is the rigger qualified to rig the load to be lifted? *
- Does the excavator have the rated capacity to lift the load safely?
- Is the manufacturer’s lifting point or engineered attachment for the purpose of attaching slings rated for the full capacity of the excavator?
- Will the lift be made from level and stable ground? (refer to manufacturer’s manual)
- Have work procedures been established that will minimize the risk to workers near the boom or bucket?
Never lift, lower, or move a slung load if:
- Lifting or lowering in close proximity to workers when there is the possibility of the worker being struck
- Using open hooks when it may cause a hazard to workers
- Lifting loads without calculating weights or making test lifts (see operation manual)
- Travelling with a slung load unless the manufacturer has addressed it
- Performing a single lift with two excavators without first informing all the workers involved and without the supervision of a
qualified supervisor *
* Qualified — Knowledgeable of work, hazards and means to control hazards as evidenced by education, training, experience, or a combination of all three.
How Hearing Works
If you’re one of the twenty-million individuals that are subject to dangerous noise-levels on the work site you will want to implement precautionary tactics to counter the danger of hearing loss. You’ll want to be educated on how hearing functions and is measured.
How the Ear Hears
Frequencies of sound make their way past the ear-canal to the eardrum. The membrane then resonates when the noise reaches it, vibrating similarly to a drum that has just been hit. The noise is transported through small, tender bones in the centre of the ear to what is called the cochlea. The cochlea is a winding, empty formation containing liquid and hair-cells. The frequencies create waves in the cochlea’s liquid, which then makes their way to the hair-cells. These hair-cells respond by transferring the frequencies as nerve impulse. These impulses are then carried to parts of the brain which allow you to experience them as noise.
How Damage Occurs
The hair-cells that run along your ear’s cochlea are very tender and can be harmed very easily by ear infections, head damage, and some narcotics. However, the most prominent form of ear damage is caused by sound. Excessive noise-levels can slowly kill off the nerve cells. So slowly, in fact, that most people don’t notice it occurring until it’s too late and their hearing is gone.
Luckily, there is a way to measure the effects of hearing loss with an assessment that can monitor your auditory reception and warn you and your employer before it is too late. During this assessment, which grades your capability of experiencing a variety of frequencies and pitches, you’ll be asked to listen for noises and report which ones you can hear.
The test results are displayed on an audiogram, a chart that records your auditory threshold. The frequency of noise will be presented on the horizontal line on the chart. The units of frequency are measured by what is called the Hertz (in symbol form: Hz).
The larger the figure, the higher the frequency is. On the left-hand a vertical line is displayed to show the height of the noise levels in relation to your auditory thresh-hold. This is quantified in a unit of measurement known as “decibels”(dBA). The audiogram’s spiked line connects the auditory threshold at various frequencies. A taller line indicates superior hearing capabilities.
This machine reflects how auditory range alters with age. For instance, reception to lower frequencies doesn’t change much at all, but with age people tend to have difficulty hearing higher pitches. Similar alterations occur as a result of consistent exposure to loud noise. In comparison at one year intervals, audiograms reveal that the line has dropped notably.
What Does “Too Loud” Mean?
dBA, as well as being used to quantify auditory limitation, is also used for generally measuring volume of noise. In the average quiet bedroom there are about 20 decibels. When operating a power-saw there are around 110.
In accordance with OSHA protocol, there must be hearing protection if you are subject to over 85 dBA for 8 hours or more. Wear auditory protection at all times when the decibel level reaches 90. You know you need hearing-protection if someone talking 2 ft away is difficult to hear. Other indicators include a resounding ringing of the ears or lessened hearing after you have left the worksite.
Regardless of what you may have heard in the past, your ears don’t gradually get acquainted to noise. Your ears are experiencing the same level of noise and don’t develop natural protection against high decibel levels.
You can make sure your hearing remains healthy by using ear protection and getting your hearing frequently assessed.
Shift work dangers
There are many occupations that require shift work in order to continue business operations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 15 million Americans work a job that requires some type of shift work. While some individuals choose to work different shifts such as the night shift, there are many people who do so because they need to. It is important for anyone who is working these shifts to understand the hazards associated with it.
Disruption of Circadian Rhythm
The main hazard of shift work is that it disrupts a person’s circadian rhythm. Psychology Today describes circadian rhythm as follows: “Often referred to the “body clock”, the circadian rhythm is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat–regulating many physiological processes.” This rhythm is important because it regulates many of our physiological processes and when it is disrupted there can be many negative health effects. A study completed at Rockefeller University found that mice that had their circadian rhythm disrupted experienced weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioral changes. So much research has been linked negative health effects to shift work that the International Agency on the Research of Cancer listed shift work as “probably carcinogen to humans” in 2007.
Hazards Created by Shift Work on the Job
Not only are there hazards to your health due to shift work, but there are also hazards in the workplace for individuals on these shifts. Some of the hazards created by shift work are:
- Inability to focus- less focus can lead to mistakes and thus injuries occurring on the job.
- Fatigue is a major issue in the workplace for workers who work regular hours. Those working shift work are put at even higher risks for fatigue related incidents.
- In some industries, there can be an increase likelihood of workplace violence at night (i.e. robberies).
- Increased stress levels due to not seeing family or health issues can lead to decreased job performance.
We all have to make a living and provide for our families, but if you have to do shift work it is important to understand the hazards. There are steps you can take to combat some of the negative effects of shift work. One step is to try to keep on the same shift and maintain the same sleep/awake cycle. Another step is to eat right and drink plenty of water to aid your body in its physiological processes. Talk with a doctor or sleep specialist to discuss other options to limit the negative effects of shift work.
Trenches are potential killers. The majority of fatal trench accidents occur where the depth is less than 1.5m. A cubic meter of earth can weigh over 1.5
- Prior to any digging carry out thorough checks for services.
- Plan excavations including shoring requirements, safe access/egress, etc.
- Ensure any support/shoring materials are present on site prior to
- Excavations must be supported/battered back where necessary to prevent collapse.
- Use ladders for access/egress do not climb supports.
- All excavations deeper than 1.2 mtrs. (4 meter) must be shored or the sides must be sloped to a safe angle
- Provide barrier around deep excavations.
- Keep soil heaps, tools and vehicles back 0.5m away from the edge of excavations.
- Never throw tools/materials into an excavation always pass hand to hand orlower on a rope.
- Wear suitable PPE, including head and foot protection.
- Do not jump across excavations provide suitable bridges where required.
- If vehicles are to be used to fill then position stops to ensure vehicles cannotdrive into excavations.
- Never adjust/adapt supports/shoring without first getting approval fromperson in charge.
- Excavations must be inspected prior to entry, at the start of each shift, and after any destabilizing event (including heavy rain).
- Ensure stop blocks are fitted when dumpers are tipping into excavations and that are guided by a signaler.
- Do not jump across excavations, use bridge access ways with guard rail.
- Do not alter or remove any supporting members unless you are timber man.
THE MESSAGE IS SIMPLE DON T DIG YOUR OWN GRAVE
Hazardous Chemicals-Four routs of entry
Chemicals exist on virtually every single work-site. Many chemicals used on the job are hazardous to humans depending on how an individual comes into contact with them as well as the amount of the chemical they are exposed to. Employees need to understand the chemicals they are exposed to and the possible routes of entry. There are four ways a chemical or substance can enter the human body. These four routes of exposure include: inhalation, absorption, ingestion, and injection.
The Four Routes of Entry
1. Inhalation– Inhalation is the most common route of entry a person comes into contact with a chemical. Once inhaled, chemicals are either exhaled or deposited in the respiratory tract. Upon contact with tissue in the upper respiratory tract or lungs, chemicals may cause health effects ranging from simple irritation to severe tissue destruction. The chemical can also go onto affecting organs that are sensitive to the chemical.
2. Absorption– Getting chemicals onto the skin or eyes can result in redness and irritation all the way to severe destruction of tissue or blindness. The eyes are especially sensitive to chemicals. Some chemicals have the ability to pass through the skin and get into the blood stream of a victim. This can lead to systemic problems in the organs.
3. Ingestion– Chemicals that inadvertently get into the mouth and are swallowed do not generally harm the gastrointestinal tract itself unless they are irritating or corrosive. Some chemicals can be absorbed through the gastrointestinal track where they enter the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream they can cause damage to the organs.
4. Injection– Though not common, injection of chemicals into the body can occur. A sharp object can be contaminated with a chemical or substance and penetrate the skin. The chemical is then in the body and can make its way into the bloodstream where it can damage organs or other tissue.
Safe Work Practices When Working with Chemicals
- Know the chemicals you are working with. Read the SDS to understand the safe handling procedures and what to do if you come into contact with the chemical.
- Eliminate chemical hazards where possible. Do not use extremely hazardous chemicals unless absolutely necessary. Substitute a less hazardous chemical in place of a more hazardous chemical.
- Engineer chemical hazards out of the workplace. Engineering controls include ventilation such as fans, barriers to create distance or a shield from chemicals, filters, etc.
- Wear the correct PPE to protect yourself from the chemical. PPE such as respirators, goggles, a face shield, chemical gloves, and a lab coat are some examples to create barriers between your body and a chemical.
Also think about your family. If you are not practicing good hygiene you could be bringing chemicals home with you and exposing family members to them. For example, there is lead dust on the floor of a work area you are often in. You walk through the floor all day and then when you go home you do not take off you shoes and you walk around on your carpet. Your baby son crawls on the carpet inhaling and possibly ingesting the lead dust leading to health problems for him. Take preventive measures to clean your clothes and other items that you take home with you.
With this toolbox talk we will shed light upon basic electrical safety geared towards non-electricians.
Extension cords/Power Strips
- Extension cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring
- Extension cords need to be protected from motor vehicles, fork lifts, pallet jacks, heavy pedestrian traffic, etc.
- Power strips should not be permanently mounted to a wall or any other structure, even if the power strip has specific mounting fittings.
- Power strips or extension cords should not be connected to each other. Doing this can overload the circuit creating a potential fire hazard.
Circuit Overload Protection Devices:
These devices are designed to protect the wiring in a house/building and to prevent a potential fire.
- Fuses– Break the circuit when too much current is flowing through the circuit. A small conductor inside the fuse heats up and melts when it reaches a specific temperature.
- Circuit Breakers– As current increases in the circuit, an electromagnet inside the breaker generates increased magnetic force, eventually being great enough to pull the switch on the breaker from the “on” to the “off” position.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
- GFCIs are designed to protect people from an electric shock.
- A GFCI works by detecting a current drop from the hot to the neutral wiring in a circuit.
- The GFCI detects energy that is escaping the circuit.
- GFCIs should be installed wherever a water hazard is present.
- You will commonly find GFCI plugs on hairdryers, wet vacs, etc.
- GFCIs can be at the breaker, the outlet, incorporated with the plug of the appliance/piece of equipment, or part of a short extension cord.
Other common Electrical Safety Issues
- Discard any piece of equipment that gives you even the slightest shock. If the resistance through your body is lowered i.e. standing in water or touching metal, even the slightest shock can be deadly.
- Never use electrical equipment in or around water.
- Junction boxes and electrical panels need to have proper covers in place to conceal all wiring.
- Hard wiring should not be exposed/accessible to non-electrical employees.
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SECURING A CONSTRUCTION SITE
There are many instances where the public make their way into a work site to run equipment for the thrill of it. Some other reasons such as theft, vandalism, curiosity, or even accidental entry are cause for people to enter a work site after hours. No matter what the intention of the people entering, it is important to have a secure workplace, especially after hours. Securing the workplace means taking steps such as locking up areas, securing equipment, placing barricades, posting signage, and protecting property.
Safeguards to a More Secure Workplace
General Work Area– Ensure adequate fencing is up around the entire work site. Depending on the area, crime rate, and potential property loss evaluate the possibility of investing in a site wide security system or outside agency to provide site security. Keep valuable items out of plain sight from the viewpoint of the public. Pay attention to where scrap metal piles may be onsite. Scrap metal often brings thieves into a work site.
Buildings– Always lock buildings. Keep valuables out of sight within the buildings. If someone looks through a window and does not see anything worth taking it may deter them from entering. Use alarms, flood lights, and cameras when possible. While the upfront cost can be expensive, a good security system can prevent expensive break-ins.
Heavy Equipment– There has been many instances where people break into a construction site and run equipment for the thrill of it or to cause problems for the company. This can do a lot of damage to the site as well as be a dangerous situation for the people who broke in. It is important to take steps to protect against situations where heavy equipment is stolen. Some steps to take:
- Do not leave equipment out in the open when possible. Lock equipment in a shop or at least in a fenced in area.
- Remove key from the equipment and lock the doors. Do not rely on the fence around the site to keep people out.
- Most pieces of equipment have a master switch. At the end of your shift shut the master switch off. If someone is not familiar with that piece of equipment they will not be able to get it to turn on.
Excavations– All excavations should be 100% barricaded or fenced in at the end of the day. This protects the public or any employees who enter the area from driving or falling into the excavation. Do not rely on a perimeter fence to protect individuals from harm due to an exposed hole within the site’s boundaries.
-The points made in this talk did not cover every aspect of securing a work site. How else can we more effectively secure our worksite?
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BEING SAFETY AWARE’
There is a difference between being aware of Safety in a vague, general way and being Safety ‘Aware’. The second implies a continuous alert attitude to the safety aspects of every job we do. In 1991 there were about 20,000 reported accident in construction. That is about 90 a day. How many went unreported no one knows.
The Health and Safety at Work Act places duties on ALL persons at work. That includes you, your boss, and your foreman, indeed everyone at work. The only way the accident figures will come down is by everyone doing their bit about safety.
Your legal responsibility is to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and to safeguard the health and safety of those you work with and members of the public. (This includes children, who must be kept off sites).
You must co-operate with your boss in anything he does in the interest of health welfare and safety, and not interfere with anything provided in the interests of health welfare and safety. Fines of up to £2,000 can be imposed.
This includes wearing any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided and using any safety equipment when provided and as instructed. If unsure about its use ASK!
Every employer must have a written Safety Policy (unless he has less than 5 employees), and draw your attention to it.
Make sure you read it, and note the arrangements, which affect you.
Play your part in keeping the site TIDY AND SAFE.
1- Look out for warning notices and OBEY the instructions given by them.
2- STAY ALERT when working in the vicinity of moving plant – diggers, dumpers, cranes etc.
3- DO NOT OPERATE machines unless you have been trained and authorised to do so.
4- NEVER RIDE on machines or hoists, which are not designed for passengers. It is illegal.
5- DO NOT INTERFERE with ladders or alter scaffolding or move boards unless you are authorized to do so.
6 NEVER THROW anything from scaffolding or any height. Lower it properly.
7- DO NOT take SHORTCUTS. Use the access provided. REPORT any DEFECTS or damage to ladders, scaffolding, plant or tools – at once.
8- REPORT any UNSAFE situations or practices you come across.
9- REPORT all ACCIDENTS involving injury, however slight, to your Foreman. Details of an accident requiring first-aid treatment should be entered in the Accident Book.
10- ASK your Foreman. If in doubt about the safety of any work activity.
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HOUSEKEEPING is important in order to protect people and materials.
Combustible materials left lying around are a FIRE HAZARD.
Other materials left in the way can cause people to trip over them. Round section materials are especially hazardous.
Carelessly or untidily stacked materials can topple over causing damage and injury.
A tidy site is likely to be a safe site and vice-versa. The Health and Safety at Work Act lies down that we must have a safe place of work!
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING means:
1. Keeping rubbish and loose objects clear of the floor and walkway areas.
2. Disposing of all such rubbish into skips or designated areas.
3. Stacking/storing all materials safely.
4. Keeping all tools and equipment in their proper places except when actually in use.
ACCESS WAYS are escape routes. A safe place of work at all times includes a safe means of access and egress to all places where work is done. Do not leave materials/tools/benches etc in gangways/corridors where they might impede someone’s escape or cause a tripping hazard (It might be you or your best mate who needs to get out in a hurry).
Dismantled wood must always have all the nails removed or made safe by hammering them flat.
If all rubbish is regularly collected and put into the skip, in the event of the fire, the danger is confined and more easily dealt with.
Damaged tools or equipment. Take immediate steps to have them repaired and put them somewhere safe. If not repairable or returnable they are classified as rubbish and the above applies.
When work is finished, put overalls and other PPE away in lockers or other safe places. Do not leave belongings lying around.
If you see anything lying on floors, stairways, passages that could cause people to trip and fall, pick it up and put it in a safe place – DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO MOVE IT.
If you notice rubbish piling up which you cannot remove, bring this to the attention of your supervisor.
If when working at height you notice loose objects on boards or walkways, put them somewhere where they cannot be dislodged. This avoids the risk of them falling and causing injury.
Good housekeeping is everybody’s business on site, it is an ongoing activity and a once-a-week clean-up is NOT ENOUGH.
REMEMBER – A TIDY SITE IS A SAFE SITE
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SAFETY SIGNS AND NOTICES
Persons in charge of sites, plant etc frequently has a need to warn or advice others about hazards or risks. If we don’t understand the signs and notices they put up, we could be in danger.
All safety signs have to conform to the Safety Signs Regulations. If we are familiar with the principles of the regulations we will be able to spot instantly:
Prohibition Signs Mandatory Signs Warning Signs
Safe Condition Signs Fire Fighting Equipment Signs
Prohibition Signs – These have a red circle with a cross bar on white ground. Any lettering is black.
Examples: Stop, No Entry, No Smoking
Meaning: DO NOT. YOU MUST NOT. STOP IT IF YOU ARE.
Mandatory Signs – These have a solid blue circle with a white symbol and/or lettering.
Examples: Hard Hats must be worn, Keep locked shut
Meaning: YOU MUST DO. OBEY.
Warning Signs – These have a solid yellow triangle (point up) with a black border. Any symbol or lettering is also black on yellow.
Examples: Danger, High Voltage, and Guard Dogs Loose.
Meaning: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, THEREFORE TAKE CARE.
Safe Condition Signs – These have a solid green square with white symbols and/or lettering.
Examples: Fire Exit, First Aid
Meaning: FOLLOW THIS SIGN TO REACH SAFETY.
Fire Equipment Signs – These have a solid red rectangle with white symbols and/or lettering.
Examples: Fire Alarm, Hydrant, and Extinguisher.
Meaning: HERE IS THE FIRE EQUIPMENT.
Note: Fire Extinguishers have their own color code, which will be dealt with later
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MANUAL HANDLING OF LOADS AT WORK
Manual Handling Operation is any transporting or supporting of a load, including the lifting, lowering, putting down,
pushing, pulling, carrying or moving, by hand or by bodily force. Picking up and carrying a toolbox or a step ladder or even picking up a screwdriver or hammer, or a set of stocks, is manual handling, just as unloading and positioning a boiler might be. Anything from the extremely light to something requiring your maximum strength is included.
Manual Handling accounts for a large number of accidents each year and many millions of ‘days off’ are due to back and other injuries. Once someone’s back has been weakened by injury it is often a recurring problem for the rest of that person’s life.
a. All Manual Handling Operations are governed by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. Employees have a duty to make full and proper use of anything provided by an employer in connection with manual handling.
This includes following any advice and training given on lifting etc.
b. An employers duties can be summarized as – Avoid the need for manual handling wherever possible. Assess the risk. Reduce the need by providing mechanical aids. Train staff in good Manual Handling techniques.
Basic Rules for safe Manual Handling
1. Think before lifting! Is it heavy (above 16kg) is it large or awkward?, where is the center of gravity?, can you manage it alone?
2. Use the strong muscles and bones of your legs, not the complex and vulnerable ones in your back.
3. Make sure you have a firm grip of the load and that you can sustain the grip for the duration of the lift. Wear industrial gloves to improve grip and protect hands from sharp edges.
4. Make sure you know where you are going to put the load and that the way is clear of obstacles and not slippery. The load must not impede your forward view.
5. If in doubt, get help! There’s nothing macho about a slipped disc!
1. Tuck chin in. This keeps back as straight as possible and therefore least vulnerable.
2. Feet as close to load as possible, about a hip width apart, one foot slightly in front.
3. Bend the knees and crouch down.
4. Take a full grip, suing palms, not fingertips.
5. With elbows tucked in, straighten the leg, lifting smoothly.
6. Carry the load forward at waist height.
7. Change direction by turning on you feet, not by twisting the trunk.
8. Put down in the same careful way and continue being careful as you straighten up.
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WORKING WITH HAND TOOLS
We all work with hand tools practically every day. Familiarity can lead to complacency. Faulty tools or wrongly used tools can cause nasty injuries and produce poor quality work.
Taking reasonable care of your own Health and Safety, means keeping tools in good condition and using them expertly.
Sharp tools, which cut steel, can cut flesh without trouble. Hammers, which can drive nails, can squash fingers too.
Work Equipment Regulations require employers to ensure that tools are ‘suitable’ and maintained in good order. They rely on you, as skilled trade’s persons, to assist them in this by reporting immediately if something is not suitable or is broken.
The following points are areas where care is needed (and abuse common).
Must be the right size or else they are automatically not ‘suitable’. Ring spanners are better than open ended spanners. Open ended spanners are generally better than adjustable spanners.
2. Adjustable Spanners:
Although very convenient, these can very quickly become dangerous due to wear on the jaws and adjusting mechanism. If the jaws are no longer more or less parallel, or the sliding jaw is wobbly, report the tool as ‘unsuitable’.
These also suffer in time from wear on the mechanism. The spring will take up a certain amount of wear, but if the spring is exhausted, or the gripper teeth on the jaws are worn out, report the tool as ‘unsuitable’.
NEVER attempt to gain extra leverage by using pipe over the handle. If the temptation arises obviously the tool is too small and therefore ‘unsuitable’.
The handle is part of the tool. Without a handle the tool is ‘unsuitable’, and the tang extremely dangerous. Files are very brittle and must not be used as levers or chisels. If a file breaks, fragments of sharp metal are likely to fly off.
5. Cold Chisels and Punches:
When the head turns over after prolonged use, forming a ‘mushroom’, grind it off to prevent flying fragments. Keeping chisels sharp reduces the tendency for ‘mushrooming’.
Use the right weight hammer for the job. (‘suitability’ again). Ensure hammer heads are secure, with proper wedges (good order). Never shorten a hammer shaft as this spoils the balance and could strain the wrist.
These should fit the slot in the screw head, so use the correct size. The point should be ‘cross ground’ to minimize the risk of slipping. Do not use them as chisels. Cross Point (Phillips) screwdrivers are not generally re-sharpenable, so discard when wear makes them unsuitable.
Retractable knives (Stanley) are commendable, but do not abuse them where a preferable alternative exists e.g. cable stripping.
Use a purpose made cable stripper.
Use the correct size with the correct blade for the job. High Speed blades last longer, but are very brittle. Slow steady cutting keeps the blade cool and gives better results. Always make sure the work is properly secured before starting to cut.
10. Tool Box/Bag
All hand tools should be put away when not in use. Good Housekeeping prevents damage and loss and keeps them sharp and available when needed. Do not walk about with sharp tools in pockets. Serious injury can result in the event of a slip or fall.
Use a tool bag or box.
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WEARING AND CARING FOR PPE
Personal Protective Equipment is intended to protect you from risks, which cannot be eliminated or guarded against by other more effective means.
Your employer must assess the work you do and take all reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce risks (PPE Regulations). If he decides that some risk still remains he must provide you with PPE. Some risks are deemed to be always present on building sites, hence separate Regulations require ‘hard hats’ to be worn in ‘hard hat areas’, at all times.
1. You have a duty to wear any PPE provided by your employer and he has a duty to See that you do.
2. You must wear and use the PPE in the way it was intended – therefore it must fit you. If it doesn’t –report it.
3. PPE must be suitable for the risk and the job in hand – if it’s not – report it.
4. PPE must not itself create a new risk – if it does – report it.
5. You have a duty to take care of the PPE and not to abuse it.
6. You have no right to take the PPE off site unless your employer says you can. Otherwise you must return it to the appropriate storage place after use.
7. If you are unsure about how to use PPE (e.g. breathing apparatus) ask for training first. You must be adequately trained.
8. If there is anything wrong with the PPE provided e.g. worn out, broken, missing, In need of maintenance or cleaning etc. you must report it.
9. The Health and Safety Executive provide free advice leaflets on PPE for construction workers.
10. Remember, the law does not expect your boss to be psychic, if you know of a problem Regarding PPE or a risk that need guarding against TELL HIM ABOUT IT!
Note – Underlined words and phrases indicate a specific mention in the Regulations. Offences against the Regulations are Criminal Acts.
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WORKING AT HEIGHTS 1. LADDERS
Much of our work involves equipment deliberately put out of reach. We therefore need to use access equipment (steps, ladders, towers, and scaffolding) to get at it.
More accidents occur involving ladders than any other piece of work equipment. This is because there are so many of them, not because they are particularly dangerous.
A few easily memorized rules can ensure ladder safety. The use of ladders is covered by the Construction (Working Places) Regulations (Construction Sites) and by the Work Equipment Regulations (Everywhere else).
1. Only use ladders for work of short duration and which can safely be done from a ladder e.g. work requiring only one hand and within easy reaching distance.
2. Ladders must be of sound material, strong enough for the purpose and properly maintained. (No splits, warping, decay, damage, etc.). A missing or defective rung condemns a ladder automatically (Reg. 31). Wooden ladders must not be painted. (Reg. 9).
3. Ladders must have a firm footing for each stile and if more than 3m long be secured at the upper end, i.e. be lashed. Where such lashing is not possible, securing at or near the base is necessary. Where securing at neither the top nor bottom is possible, a person must ‘foot’ the ladder. (Reg. 32).
4. Maximum height to be reached by ladder is 9m unless a resting place can be provided. (Greater heights require a scaffold or tower to ensure ‘safe Place of Work’).
5. Ladders used for access to a higher level must extend at least 1.06m above the landing place unless other regulation height hand hold is provided. (Reg. 32).
6. Ladders must be placed at a safe angle of approx. 75 degrees. This means; distance from base of ladder to the wall should be ¼ height reached by the ladder.
7. Only one person should stand on a ladder at one time, except when a second person is standing on the bottom rung to ‘foot’ the ladder.
8. When climbing or descending ladders, both hands are needed, so carry tools etc. in a shoulder bag or such like (or hoist them up afterwards).
9. Do not use metal ladders near electrical equipment.
10. Do not use a ladder in a driveway or passageway unless protected by barriers or an assistant is constantly in attendance.
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WORKING AT HEIGHTS 2. STEP LADDERS
Folding step ladders are an extremely convenient way of accessing work, which is out of reach, but familiarity can lead to carelessness. Falling off a step ladder is no less serious than off an ordinary ladder so equal care is called for. (The floor is just as hard)
Step ladders are covered by the same regulations as ordinary ladders regarding construction and materials and this is even more critical because of the extra parts required to make them foldable. (Construction/Working Places) Regulations and Work Equipment Regulations).
Establishing a habit of checking off a mental list each time a pair of steps is used, will lead to safe working. Steps are probably the most ‘borrowed’ item of all site equipment and although this may be frowned upon, it is unlikely that it can be stopped. Always check ‘borrowed’ steps doubly well as it is still your responsibility to ensure your own safety.
Step Ladders Rules
1. Steps must be suitable. ‘Domestic’ weight steps are not normally up to ‘trade’ use.
2. Check anti-spread device (cords, clips brackets etc.). Remember, if it’s defective it’s illegal!
3. Check folding mechanism (hinges, pin, rivets, etc).
4. Always spread the ladder to its fullest extent, so that it can’t suddenly jerk while you are on it.
5. Ensure that all four stiles are on firm, level ground. This is specifically mentioned in the Regulations (Reg. 32.7) so
use of an unsteady step ladder is an offence!
6. You must always have a secure handhold not less than 1.06m above the highest level reached by your feet. Clearly this means you cannot stand on the top steps unless there is some other handhold e.g. an extension.
7. Place the ladder at right angles to the work so that twisting the body is not necessary. Try to visualise where the
centre of gravity of you, any tools or materials, and the ladder, lies so that it stays within the base area of the
8. An assistant standing on the bottom step lowers the centre of gravity very effectively, but make sure they understand and so do not step off suddenly.
Report any defective step ladder immediately and prevent its use by others.
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WORKING AT HEIGHTS 3. TRESTLE SCAFFOLDS
Trestle Scaffolds allow access to work where more than one person is needed or where access is necessary to a wider area than a ladder could reach.They should be regarded in the same way as ladders or steps i.e. light, temporary access only. For heavy or long term access, proper scaffolding of tubes and boards of a mobile tower must be provided.
The Regulations concerning trestles and staging are the same as for other access equipment regarding strength, condition, stability etc.
Trestle Scaffold Rules
1. A trestle scaffold is not permitted to have the deck more that 4.5m high. (Reg. 21.2.a)
2. If the trestles are erected near an edge the 4.5m is measured from the lowest level.
3. The decking should be no more than two thirds up the height of the trestles.
4. Proprietary decking will have a label attached stating maximum loading and span and possibly maximum number of men. – Heed it!
5. The platform must be at least 635 mm wide (25”). More if materials are deposited on it
6. Access to the staging should be by an adjacent step ladder. Do not climb up the trestles.
7. Trestles are not a substitute for a step ladder – the horizontal bars are too far apart – such use is not the way it was intended and is therefore abuse. Remember – suitability – (Work Equipment Regulations 1992.)
8. Where Planks make the platform the following guide as to maximum span should be followed:
- 38mm planks (11/2 “) 1.5m
- 50mm planks (2”) 2.5m
- 65mm planks (21/2”) 3.0m
9.Check that there are no loose or missing screws and bolts, no splits, warping or decayed or broken parts. It could be your neck that gets broken if it collapses.
Report any defects to your supervisor and ensure no one else uses faulty equipment
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WORKING AT HEIGHTS 4.TOWER E SCAFFOLDS
Tower scaffolds represent the safest way of getting access to equipment above ground level.
Towers built of scaffold tubes and fittings must comply with all the scaffold parts of the Construction (Work Place) Regulations and only be erected (and dismantled) by competent scaffolder’s properly supervised.
Tower Scaffold Rules
1. Towers must only be erected on a firm level base (Regulation 15)
2. The maximum height (of platform) is 3 x min base measurement if outdoors and 3.5 x if indoors. Outriggers are permitted to increase base dimension so that greater height can be achieved.
3. Minimum platform size recommended is 1.219m x 1.219m. The area must be fully boarded and have toe boards and hand rails if above 1.980m high.
4. Access must be by fixed ladder. Best is internal diagonal type. (Keeps C.G. inside base and braces tower.) An alternative may be part of end frame of tower with rungs not more than 300 mm apart. Shinning up the tower tubes is not permitted.
5. Where the tower is mobile (on wheels) each wheel must be fixed to the tower (not held in place by the weight of the tower) and be fitted with a brake. The brakes must all be ‘on’ whilst the tower is in use.
6. The above rule means that men and materials must not be on the platform whilst the tower is being moved.
7. Move by pushing horizontally near the base. Make sure the route is clear, both at ground level and up to the height of the tower, before starting to push.
8. Extra care is essential if outriggers are in use. The height/side ratio may be affected if the outriggers have to be removed for moving. Only raise the outriggers by the minimum amount possible. If in doubt about stability, get helpers to steady all four corners whilst moving.
9. Ladders must not be leant against towers, or stood on the platform to gain height. The risk of overturning the power is too great!
10. When working on a tower, pushing and pulling actions need to be undertaken with due thought as to where you are, to avoid the risk of overturning.
Report any defective equipment immediately and prevent others from using it.
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WORKING ON ROOFS
The Health and Safety at Work Act requires a Safe Place at Work at all times and this includes safe access and egress to and from the place of work i.e. the roof. The Construction Regulations are precise in that no one shall pass across, or work on, a ‘fragile’ roof.
Fragile roofs must, by law, have a warning notice conspicuous to any person likely to go on them, but do not assume
because there is no notice that it is OK It may have blown away.
Roof work Rules
1. Always identify the type of roof construction and covering before starting work, in case it is fragile.
2. On flat roofs, always sty on the marked walk ways, if any.
3. Edge protection (guard rails and toe boards) is required if the drop is more than 1.98 metres.
4. Access must be by staircase or ‘secured’ ladders. Makeshift access, e.g. climbing out of a window, jumping over a gap, balancing on a ledge or parapet etc. is on flat roofs, always sty on the marked walk ways, if any.
5. Edge protection (guard rails and toe boards) is required if the drop is more than 1.98 meters.
6. Access must be by staircase or ‘secured’ ladders. Makeshift access, e.g. climbing out of a window, jumping over a gap, balancing on a ledge or parapet etc. is not ‘safe access’.
7. On sloping roofs (10o pitch for walkways, 30o pitch if work place) suitable roof ladders or crawling boards must be provided or other suitable hand hold and foothold.
8. On fragile roofs, suitable roof ladders or crawling boards must be provided, properly secured. Ordinary scaffold boards are not ‘suitable’.
9. Think about tools and materials needed on the roof and ensure they are secure both whilst being taken up and whilst being used.
10. Think about others under the roof or below the roof edge. Barrier the area off and put up warning signs in case anything does accidentally drop.
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NOISE AT WORK
Building site plant and operations are often very noisy. Exposure to excessive noise can, over a period of time lead to permanent hearing loss. In addition, noise is very wearing on the nerves and can cause irritability and loss of concentration leading to mistakes and accidents.
The delicate mechanism in our ears wears out gradually as we get older. Loud noise wears it out more quickly, leading to premature deafness. There is no cure. Prevention is required by The Noise at Work Regulations.
What to do about Noise
1. Stand 2 meters away from your mate and try talking. If you cannot hear each other without shouting, action is required by the Regulations.
2. Action Level One. Noise measurements with a special instrument must be taken. This reads in decibels dB(A). 85 dB(A) is the maximum you are allowed to hear all day.
3. The owner of the noisy plant must take steps to reduce the reading to below 85 dB(A). This could be by – changing to a quieter machine, moving it further away, having it properly serviced,placing it inside an acoustic enclosure. Etc.
4. If, after doing all that is reasonably practical, the noise is still above 85 dB(A) you can ask for hearing protection (earplugs, muffs etc.) so that the noise you actually hear is below 85 dB(A).
5. Action Level Two. If the noise is still above 90 dB(A) the hearing protection must be provided and you must wear it.
6. Hearing protection must be suitable and a good fit. Ear defenders to BS 6444 will usually be adequate
7. Ear Plugs (Bilsom Dams) should be used once only and then discarded. Cotton Wool is totally ineffective as a noise protector.
8. Wash hands before touching and inserting ear plugs and do not use if you have an ear infection – tell your supervisor. KEEP EAR DEFENDERS CLEAN.
9. Owners of noisy plant may declare immediate surroundings to be and EAR PROTECTION ZONE AND erect warning signs. Ear protection must be worn continually in this zone. If you need to communicate with your mate more than by hand signals, step outside the first zone.
10. Remember your duty to ‘comply and co-operate’ and also take care of PPE.
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BACK SPRAINS AND STRAINS
You may not be aware, but the most commonly experienced workplace injury is also the most avoidable. 50% of US employees are expected to experience physical damage to their lower back at some point. Even if you believe you aren’t susceptible to back damage where you work, it’s important to re-assess. In any job that includes lifting any kind of object you might be vulnerable to back injury. Issues usually arise when an employee is uneducated on proper lifting procedures. Even in the absence of extra appliances or company programs, there are many ways to avoid this problem.
Prior to lifting an object, go through this checklist to ensure your physical capability:
- Can I transport this without assistance?
- How high off the ground does it have to be?
- What is the distance that it must be carried?
- Is this going to be a recurring part of the job?
- Are you concerned with lifting this object to impress or prove something?
Lift It Correctly
When there is something you must carry and it exceeds twenty-five lbs.
you should follow these directions in order to proceed:
- Arrange your footing appropriately. One foot should be placed beside what you are hauling; the other should be placed behind it.
- Bend down with your knees, maintaining straightened back posture and keeping your neck and head upright.
- Grasp the object using the full palm of your hands. Your fingers alone will not be sufficient.
- Pull the object next to your body and make sure your upper extremities are close to you.
- Centralize your weight above your feet and pick the object up by thrusting your leg.
- If/when it is required of you to make turns be sure to turn with your feet while keeping your body centered.
Get In Shape
A fitness program could benefit you significantly if your workplace requires lifting such objects. Some employers provide classes but you can also practice physical wellness in your own home. Flexibility practices are helpful as they help to prevent accidents caused by abrupt thrusting of muscles that are not loose enough. Aerobic activities, cycling, jogging, and weight-lifting boost your endurance and strength.
What to do When an Injury Occurs
On the occasion that you do throw out or damage your back, remember to stay calm. Most back injuries acquired at the workplace are due to a straining or twisting of the muscles and the repercussions are not permanent. Follow these instructions if you obtain a back injury:
- Allow your back to recuperate but be sure not to relax too much or the possibility of getting out of shape arises. If the damage is still creating problems, immediately see your doctor.
- Return to the workplace but be sure to refrain from any heavy-lifting before you are physically ready for it. Talk with your superior about creating a specific plan so your co-workers are aware that you intend to work your way up to a regular work regiment. Start with light loads and progressively carry heavier objects.
- Sign up for a physical therapy or fitness training class to prevent any further bodily damage in future.
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