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Site Safety – Power Saws

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Careless or improper use of any power saw may cause a serious or fatal injury.  Keep in mind the following precautions to help reduce the risk of injury when working with a power saw:

  • Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Eye protection, gloves, sturdy boots and protective clothing should be worn. You must wear goggles or properly fitted safety glasses with adequate top and side protection. Always wear heavy duty work gloves (e.g., made of leather or other wear resistant material) when handling the saw. Heavy-duty, nonslip gloves improve your grip and help to protect your hands. Wear sturdy boots with nonslip soles. Steel-toed safety boots are recommended. Clothing must be sturdy and snug- fitting, but allow complete freedom of movement. Avoid |oose—fitting jackets, scarf’s, neckties, jewelry, flared or cuffed pants, unconfined long hair or anything i ‘ that could become caught on any obstacles or moving parts of the unit or the material you are cutting.
  • Power table saws must have an upper guard that covers the entire blade of the saw; don’t remove the manufacturer’s installed guard and get them fixed if they do not work properly.
  • When using chain, brush, cut-off or any hand held saws, keep both hands on the saw to help prevent from being cut and have more control place your second hand on the auxiliary handle or motor housing. Keep your body positioned either side of the saw blade. Secure what you are cutting and never hold the material that you’re cutting.
  • After a cut, be aware of the necessary time it takes for the blade to come to a complete stop; be aware of the moving blade until it stops moving. Don’t run the saw while carrying it at your side.
  • Use your power saw within its limits. Know the type of blade and its uses; only use a blade that’s approved for the saw and material to be cut. Using an improper blade may cause it to shatter or crack in use causing it to be shot out at you or anyone in the area. Don’t use dull or damaged blades which can cause excessive friction, blade binding and kickback.

BE SAFE – Before you use any power saw be sure that you have the proper protective gear and are trained to operate the saw!

Site Safety – Scaffold Safety

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Scaffold systems are an efficient and safe way of  providing a temporary elevated work platform. However, it is important to erect and use scaffolds properly as accidents can occur. The primary causes of scaffold accidents include failure of attachment points; footing, parts failure; inadequate fall protection; and adverse climate conditions (such as high winds). Falls are 80% of all scaffold injuries; of those injured, 60% involve skilled trades and 24% are laborers. Employees can prevent many of these accidents with good old common sense. Here are some things to keep in mind before using a scaffold:

General Guidelines for Using Scaffolds

  • Erect all scaffolds under proper supervision
  • lnsure that scaffolds and ladders are filmiy supported on dry, solid footings, plumb and properly secured
  • Do not install scaffolding on frozen, wet or un-compacted earth or with methods not recommended by the manufacturer
  • Inspect scaffold prior to use. Assign this task to a competent person.
  • Free all scaffolds of defective or damaged parts
  • Tie all scaffolds securely and safely into the structure
  • Ensure all structural members are adequate for use in proposed work
  • Check all connections and pins
  • Provide cross bracing
  • Have and use access ladders properly
  • Fall protection is required for workers on platforms 6 feet or higher.
  • Eliminate debris, ice, mud, from all ladders and working surfaces
  • Plank all working areas and service all planks
  • Inspect all scaffolds frequently. Overlap all planks by 12 inches
  • Train all employees adequately in use of scaffold and ladders.

When installing all guardrails, mid-rails, and toe-boards in work areas, make sure they meet the following strength requirements:

  • Guard-rails — height is 42″ (+/-3″) and at least 200 lbs. in strength
  • Mid-rails — set midway between guardrail & walking surface and 150 lbs. in strength
  • Toe-boards — typically 1″ x 4” construction
  • Working platforms/decks must be planked close to the guardrails
  • Planks – overlap on a support at by 12 inches.

BE SAFE — Before you use a scaffold, take the time to think it out. Use good judgment and common sense.

Site Safety – Protection of the Public on Job Sites

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Contractors have the responsibility to protect their employees, subcontractors and the general public (including invitees to a construction project) from adverse safety and health conditions that can occur on a construction site.

They must also protect the public from nuisance conditions (i.e. ambient noise, dust), implement the necessary controls to avoid disruption of public routes and services and maintain a continuous separation between construction zones and public areas. Recent construction catastrophes in urban centers and suburban residential projects have significantly raised public awareness and concern of the Inherent dangers of construction.

Consider the following to help prevent injuries and accidents:  

  • Open excavations: Are they properly protected from site visitors others working on-site?
  • Existing utilities: Are they properly identified and marked?
  • Traffic routes (vehicular and pedestrian) is the safest route in use? Proper barricades?
  • Pedestrian routes including provisions for members of the public with special needs: Are they malntairiezi and in good condition?
  • Warning signs: Are they properly spaced. in good condition and illuminated (when required)?
  • Mobile equipment transport and usage: is there access in and out of the project?
  • Deliveries to the site and routine debris: is collection and removal properly planned?
  • Emergencies: Is there accessibility to the site by emergency medical services (EMS) and is there an effective Emergency Action Plan in place?
  • Falling and wind-blown objects: are there potential hazards that could injure or damage others’ property?
  • Illumination: is it adequate for nighttime visibility? is it directed away from a driver’s line of sight?
  • Vibrations or ground settlement: Are exposures evaluated and controlled?
  • Noise and dust from operations: Are they contained or controlled?
  • Inclement weather: Are provisions in place for drainage, water run-off and other exposures?
  • Communications: is a plan in place and coordinated with authorities. including community  relations?


Important Code Changes in the 2012 IRC

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  1. 50% rule (flood) wording botched by State in last amendment corrected.
  2. Better explanation of when to issue a Certificate of Approval.
  3. Habitable attic definition changed to finished area.
  4. The term “windows” changed to “exterior glazing” as it applies to wind-borne debris regions.
  5. <5ACH50 air infiltration rate requires whole-house mechanical ventilation.
  6. Major language / organization clarification of glazing hazardous locations section.
  7. Winder tread clarification, winders now allowed within a flight.
  8. Quarter circle landings now allowed, no longer required to be 36″ x 36″ square.
  9. Wireless technology specifically NOT allowed for required smoke alarm interconnection.
  10. New standard NFPA 275 allowed as alternative to covering foam with 1/2″ sheetrock.
  11. Accessory structures without foundations required to be anchored to resist wind uplift.
  12. Filter membrane now required for surrounding or covering perforated footing drains.
  13. I-joist and <2×10 floors (including basements) now required to be 1/2″ sheetrock or 5/8″ plywood.
  14. Entire braced wall section reorganized and simplified.
  15. Pan flashing required for windows and doors if details are not provided by the manufacturer.
  16. Unvented cathedral ceilings specifically allowed – air impermeable insulation or coating must be Class II vapor retarder (NO UNCOATED OPEN CELL FOAM IN CATHEDRAL CEILINGS).
  17. Kick out flashing required where step flashing terminates at sidewall.
  18. Drip edge and rake edge now required for shingle roofs.
  19. IECC and IRC energy requirements are now identical.
  20. Ceiling prescriptive insulation goes to R-49, basement walls got to R-15 continuous or R-19 cavity (Note: up to 50 sq. ft. cathedral still allowed R-30, raised heel trusses allow entire ceiling to be R-38).
  21. Eave baffle (Accu-vent) required for air permeable insulation in vented attics.
  22. Blower door requires 3ACH50 to pass – exception allows visual inspection for additions and alterations.
  23. Duct tightness test goes to max. 8cfm / 100 sq. ft. leakage tested across entire system including air handler (Exception allows up to 40 ft of system extensions during renovation without requiring testing).
  24. New wood burning fireplaces shall have tight fitting dampers.
  25. Hot water pipe insulation mandatory: water heater to kitchen sink, to manifold, any 1/2″ pipe run >20 ft., any 3/4″ pipe run >10 ft., supply and return piping entire recirculation system, all pipe >3/4″.
  26. Dryer vent now required to be mechanically fastened – screws may not project >1/8″ into duct.
  27. All air exhaust terminations must be minimum 3′ from windows and either 10′ from or 3′ above air intakes.
  28. Mechanical ventilation required to be continuous or intermittent at airflow rates as per table (based on # of bedrooms and size of house; note HRV or ERV not required).
  29. LP gas supplier identification required on tanks.
  30. Testing of plastic DWV plumbing pipe with air is no longer allowed.
  31. Storage type water heaters installed where a leak would cause damage now require a pan.
  32. Plumbing vent terminals must be either >10′ away or >3′ above any door or openable window.
  33. All gas piping (including CSST) must be bonded to the grounding electrode system.
  34. At least one electrical outlet to be installed on balcony, deck, or porch of any size.
  35. Foyers >60 sq. ft. now required to have receptacles in each wall 3′ or greater in length.
  36. All receptacles within 6′ of a tub or shower now required to be GFCI protected.
  37. All receptacles in laundry areas now required to be GFCI protected.
  38. Outlets that supply kitchen dishwasher circuits now required to be GFCI protected.
  39. AFCI protection required for all 15 and 20 amp branch circuits supplying outlets.
  40. AFCI protection required when modifying, replacing, or extending a branch circuit.
  41. Grounded conductor (neutral) required to be provided at the switch location.
  42. Receptacles located >5.5′ above the floor not required to be tamper resistant.
  43. Newly constructed homes required to be provided with RADON mitigation preparation.
  44. New building or addition requires Building Official to receive document providing name of concrete suppler and name of concrete installer prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.

SITE SAFETY – Back Safety

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Construction is a physically demanding occupation but a a vital part of our nation and the U.S. economy. A recent study shows that back injuries account for almost 20% of all nonfatal injuries and illness with days away from work in construction. Back problems are most common among workers who perform frequent heavy lifting and carrying, such as construction laborers.

The amount of force placed on your back under certain conditions can be surprising. Anytime you bend or lean over to pick something up without bending your knees, you put tremendous pressure on your lower back. Think of your lower back as a lever. With the fulcrum in the center of the lever, it only takes ten pounds of pressure to lift a 10 pound object.

However, if you shift the fulcrum to one side, it takes much more force to lift the same object. Your waist actually acts like a fulcrum in a lever system, and it is not centered. In fact, it operates on a 10:1 ratio. Lifting a 10 pound object actually puts 100 pounds of pressure on your lower back.

When you add in the 105 pounds of the average human upper torso, you see that lifting a 10 pound object actually puts 1,150 pounds of pressure on your lower back.

Remember these best practices when lifting heavy objects:

  • Bend your knees
  • Get down to the load
  • Keep it close to your body
  • Use your leg muscles

Upon assessment, if you are in doubt of your ability to safely lift or move an object, seek help or the necessary equipment to accomplish the task.


Site Safety – Eye Safety

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Each day about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job related eye injury that requires medical treatment. In construction, eye hazards exist for workers no matter where they work.

Some common operations that present eye hazards may include:

  • Grinding, hammering, polishing, chiseling, wood working, cutting, any other activity that might cause large fragments or small particles to fly through the air and into the eyes.
  • Painting, spraying, sanding, metal working, blowing, or any process that may cause dust, debris, or tiny particulate to become airborne.
  • Work tasks such as welding and cutting with a torch or operations around radiant energy or intense heat.
  • Operations such as handling acids and caustics, or where gases,  vapors, or liquids are generated.
  • Any type of work done over your head.
  • Light emitted from lasers used in construction.

Many of these operations expose not only the employee performing the job, but also employees that may be working nearby. Fortunately, you can protect against these hazards by using the appropriate protective eyewear.  If your job presents an exposure to eye hazards, wear eye protection gear meeting ANSI Z87.1 requirements for impact and penetration resistance.  Select equipment that provides the best defense.  Safety glasses should have side shields and if possible upper and lower shields. Face shields and goggles can provide even better protection for some operations.

What to do if you get something in your eye?

Don’t rub it! Rinse with clean water and get medical attention. Remember your eyesight is a precious gift, don’t take chances.  Always wear eye protection! Don’t rub it! Rinse with clean water and get immediate medical attention.

SITE SAFETY – Guardrails as Fall Protection

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Falls account for the majority of serious injuries in construction. About half of all fatal falls occur in construction (1). The use of guardrails is the most common, and usually the most effective fall protection systems used on construction sites.

OSHA requires the following when using a guardrail system:

  • Top rails must be 39 to 45 inches tall
  • Mid-rails installed between the top edge and the walking/working surface
  • Toe boards at least 3.5 inches from walking/working surface
  • Capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds applied to the top rail
  • Mid-rails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members or panels must be able to withstand a 150 pound force
  • Whenever slits are used, the height of the top rail must be increased to equal the slit height
  • Steel or plastic banging cannot be used in a railing system
  • All systems must be smooth surfaced
  • Parapet walls less than 39 inches in height require additional guardrails
  • Wood guardrails should be made from at least 2 x 4s with spans not greater than eight feet of center
  • Wire rope guardrails must be made from 1/4 inch diameter cable or larger
  • They must be flagged every six feet with high visibility material like caution or surveyor’s tape
  • Manila, plastic, or synthetic rope is not recommended since they require frequent inspection to ensure that they continue to meet strength requirements
  • They are not considered an adequate anchorage point, as they are designed to support only 200 lbs. of force
  • Guardrails should be removed only when materials are being on-loaded or off-loaded.
    • Once the materials have been positioned, replace the guardrails immediately.
    • Whenever employees are assigned within six feet from an area with a removed guardrail, they  should be protected with the use of a personal fall arrest system (PFAS).
    • In addition, employees assigned to install or disassemble guardrail systems should be required to use a PFAS.
  • Guardrail systems are designed to provide sufficient fall prevention and allow employees to safely access elevated work areas without the need for fall protection system (ex. personal fall arrest system).
(1) United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2013. 9-11-2014



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6993874-3x2-940x627Working outside during a storm can be dangerous. How well do you know the dangers of lightning? Check your knowledge against these lightning myths courtesy of NOAA.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.

Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the ring or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.

Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with Fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: A lightning victim electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.

Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.

Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.

Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.



SITE SAFETY MEETING – TOOL BOX TALK : Avoiding Job Site Slip & Trip Hazards

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Slip and trip accidents increase during the cold weather seasons for a number of reasons, there is less daylight, leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery and cold weather causes ice and snow to build up on travel and work surfaces. There are effective actions that can be taken to reduce accidents regardless of the size of your job site:

Lighting – Make sure there ids adequate lighting for workers and pedestrians in and around your workplace. It is important that you are able to see to avoid hazards that may be on the ground or on work surfaces. Check lighting regularly and adjust to the needs and changes in the time of day or season.

Wet, decaying leaves and debris –Fallen leaves that become wet or have started to decay can create slip risks in two ways, they hide hazards that may be on the path or they themselves create risk of slipping. Put in place procedures from removing leaves and debris on site at regular intervals.

Rain water – Rain water is a hazard as is the ice that if forms when the temperature drops.

  • Be sure that wet external surfaces are slip resistant or appropriately treated to prevent slips.
  • Discourage workers from using shortcuts on grass or dirt which are likely to become slippery when wet.
  • Convert existing shortcuts into properly prepared paths or discontinue their use.
  •  Before installing temporary access, plan how pedestrians and workers will likely move around the site.
  • Many slip and fall accidents occur as people enter buildings walking through rainwater. Consider canopies over building entrances to prevent this. Used absorbent mats inside entrance on flooring which are non-slip.

Ice, Frost and Snow

  • Reduce the risk of slips on ice, frost and snow, by monitoring the risk and establish procedures to manage the danger areas.
  • Identify the areas used by workers and pedestrians that are most likely to be affected by ice including building entrances, parking lots, walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade.
  • Monitor temperature, inside and out and modify safety procedures accordingly and in a timely manner.
  • Keep up to date by visiting an online weather service and take action accordingly.
  • Install warning signs in areas prone to dangerous conditions.
  • Maintain areas to prevent icy surfaces from forming and/or keep workers/ pedestrians off these areas.
  • Use grit, salt and or similar treatments on areas prone to be slippery.
  • Covered walkways can be constructed for workers or pedestrians to walk through.
  • Use warning cones but remove them once the hazard has passed or they could eventually be ignored.
  • The most common method used to de-ice floors is gritting as it is relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Rock salt or ice met is the most commonly used ‘grit’.
  • Salt can stop ice from forming and cause existing ice or snow to melt. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the surface.
  • Compacted snow which turns to ice is difficult to treat effectively with grit.
  • Be aware that ‘dawn frost’ can occur on dry surfaces, when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface. It can be difficult to predict when or where this condition will occur.




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According to Traffic Safety Facts, 95% of the total crashes in 2009 involved passengers cars or light Trucks*. Nearly 95% of all traffic collisions are caused by driver error. These errors most frequently stem from poor seeing skills and habits, aggressive attitudes,, inattention, fatigue, and failure to use proven defensive driving skills are used. As a driver, the key actions to take as a driver are:

  • Be farsighted while driving. Look to the next block or down the road to determine traffic conditions so that you can make an intelligent decision regarding your course of action.
  • Take in the whole picture. Determine what is happening down side streets or alleyways. Vehicles approaching the intersection at a high speed or parked vehicles alongside the road are hazards you should recognize. Watch for break lights and any vehicular movement.
  • Keep your eyes moving. Always check your rearview mirrors for following traffic . Observe and obey road signs.
  • Maintain an adequate space cushion. While driving your own vehicle, you should have at least a three space cushion between your vehicle and that of others. Add and additional second if you are traveling over 40 mph. For a straight truck, you should have at least a four second space cushion; add an additional second if you are traveling over 40 mph. Also, be sure to add at least one second for adverse driving conditions.
  • Communicate your every move. If you are making turns or changing lanes, advise the other traffic of your intensions with your turn signals. If you see a red light ahead, get your foot on the brake pedal early to communicate via your brake lights that you will be coming to a stop.

*Traffic Safety Facts 2009



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Before Starting the Saw

  • Check controls, chain tension, all bolts and handles to ensure that they are functioning properly and are adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Fuel the saw at least 20 feet from sources of ignition.
  • Start the saw at least 10 feet from fueling area, with the chain brake engaged, and with the chain saw on the ground or firmly supported. Do not “drop start” the saw.
  • Check the fuel container for the following requirements:
    • Must be metal or plastic and not exceed a 3-gallon capacity.
    • Must be approved by the Underwriters Laboratories or the Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

Wear Approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • A hardhat with protective face screen attachment
  • Safety glasses with side-shields
  • Hearing protection
  • Ballistic chaps
  • Tall leather work boots with steel toes and anti-slip sole

While Running the Saw 

  • Keep your ands on the handles, and maintain secure footing.
  • Clear the area of obstacles that might interfere with cutting the free or using the retreat path.
  • Do not cut directly overhead.
  • Shut off the saw or release the throttle prior to retreating.
  • Shut off or engage the chain brake whenever the saw is carried more than 50 feet, or on hazardous terrain.


SITE SAFETY MEETING – TOOL BOX TALK : Dust on Construction Sites

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Dust can be a common by-product of work activities on a construction sites. It is well recognized that dust inhalation can use cause lung disease, silicosis and other complications of the respiratory system. There are simple control measures that can be taken to help improve your health and safety when working with or around construction dust sources. The following are a few ways to handle dust on a construction site:

Site Dust – Dust created from earth excavation is common, especially on dry and windy days. In the interest of protecting workers health and property, suppressing dust has become a requirement on all jobs. There is a variety of methods to manage and control site dust here are a few suggestions:

Excavation Dust:

  • Water is a common option for protecting workers from excavations by watering down the exposed surfaces on a regular basis.
  • Dust Suppression Agents may also be an option as they have been developed to require less frequent application of water.
  • Covering exposed surfaces with polythene or tarpaulins  are effective although this method is not practical in windy areas or for large areas.

Saw Cutting, Grinding & Sanding Dust

  • Water is commonly used in cutting or grinding stone, cement or rock base products that could release dust into the air. Water-based dust suppression is the most cost effective solution.
  • Vacuum systems may also be used to collect the dust generated by sanding, grinding, breaking or cutting of concrete, stone, pavement or other dust generating materials.
  • Workers must wear the appropriate respiratory and other necessary protective equipment at all times while working on or in the vicinity of work activities that generate dust.

General Building Construction Dust – Cutting wood releases particles (sawdust) that, unlike asbestos and silica, do not enter the lungs as easily. However, some of the modern products can generate very fine dust that can potentionally be breathed into the lungs.

  • Vacuum systems can capture the dust produced by the machine and secure it in a container for proper disposal. Use removable dust collection bags with industrial grade vacuum cleaners to assist the suction of dust. Sweeping the floor is normal and good practice however, this will allow fine dust particles to float back up into the air.
  • Vacuum power sanders will pick up dust from sheetrock, plaster board and paint sanding. Vacuum power sanders are very effective as they pick up the dust as you work.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – The best protection against dust is to select the proper equipment and wear the proper respiratory equipment for the work application. To be effective, respiratory PPE items need to seal against the skin.

Dust on a construction site vary with the materials you are working with.

Read the Material Data Sheet if applicable and ask your supervisor for assistance.

Dust On Construction Sites

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Dust can be a common by product of work activities on construction sites. It is well recognized that dust inhalation can cause lung disease, silicosis, and other complications of the respiratory system. There are simple control measures that can be taken to help improve your health and safety when working with or around construction dust sources. The following are a few ways to handle dust on a construction site:

Site Dust – Dust created from earth excavation is common, especially on dry windy days. In the interest of protecting workers health and property, surpassing dust has become a requirement on most jobs. There is a variety of methods to manage and control site dust and here are a few suggestions:

Excavation Dust

  • Water is common option for protecting workers from dust from excavations by watering down the exposed surfaces on a regular basis.
  • Dust Supression Agents may also be an option as they have been developed to require less frequent application of water.
  • Covering exposed surfaces with polythene or tarpaulins are effective although this method is not practical in windy areas or for large areas.

Saw Cutting, Grinding, & Sanding Dust

  • Effects of Severe Weather in Construction

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    There is one element in the construction business that we have no control over – the elements, the weather. However, we can control how the weather affects the safety of a project. The following can be used as a guide for discussion:


    • Can blow dust in your eyes.
    • Can blow materials and people off scaffolds, roofs, or higher floors.
    • Can blow down poorly braced formwork or newly framed walls.
    • Can cause trees and power lines to fall into work areas.


    • Electrical storms can often occur without any rain or warning and are very dangerous.
    • Be sure to stay away from any type of tall object during an electrical storm.
    • If working around iron or rebar and lightning is seen or thunder heard, clear the area immediately.
    • Get under cover, inside a building or vehicle when possible at the threat of lightning.
    • Lightning can cause fires threatening the safety of workers and others on the job.

    Rain, Sleet, Ice, & Snow

    • All four are wet, some are cold, and all can cause slips, trips, and falls.
    • Snow, sleet and ice can cover floor openings and cause slips, trips, and falls.
    • Mud can result in pulled muscles or worse from straining or slipping.
    • All four can ruin exposed construction materials and tools.
    • All four increase the dangers of injury or fatality if the proper safety precautions are not taken.

    Note that when water accumulates on a job site, it can increase the chances of electrocution.

    Water, ice, and snow can affect trenches and excavations. A competent person should closely inspect all excavations to determine how the weather is affecting the trenches or excavations and take necessary steps to insure safe worker entry and egress.

    Shoveling Snow – Preventing Low Back Injuries

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    Snow shoveling is one of the more common causes of back injuries during the winter. However, this type of injury is preventable if you know the best ways to remove snow without straining the back. The following snow removal tips can help you to avoid low back injuries and pain during the snowy winter season.

    Pick the Right Snow Shovel – Use an ergonomic snow shovel that can help take some of the effort out of snow shoveling.

    • A shovel with a curved or adjustable handle will minimize bending, requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and arch your back very slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground.
    • A small, lightweight, plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight that you are moving.

    Warm Up Thoroughly – Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles. Take time to warm up for 5 – 10 minutes before shoveling.

    • Stretch your low back and hamstrings (muscles back of the thighs) with some gentle stretching exercises.

    Use Ergonomic Lifting Techniques – Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lift it. When lifting snow is necessary, make sure to use ergonomic techniques:

    • Always face towards the object you intend to lift – have your shoulders and hips both squarely facing it.
    • Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight.
    • Keep your loads light and do not lift an object that is too heavy for you.
    • If you must lift a shovel full, grip the shovel with one hand was close to the blade as comfortably possible and the other hand on the handles (handle and arm length will vary the technique).
    • Avoid twisting the back to move the snow to its new location – always pivot your whole body to face the new direction.
    • Keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body at your center of gravity – do not extend your arms to throw the snow.
    • Walk to the new location to drop the snow rather than reaching or tossing.
    • When gripping the shovel, keep you hands about 12 inches apart to provide greater stability and minimize the chances of injuring your lower back.

    Pace Yourself – Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous than shoveling a large pile at once.

    • If possible, removing snow over a period of days will lessen the strain on the back and arms.
    • In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than shoveling the full depth at once.
    • When shoveling, take a break for a minute or two every 10 – 15 minutes or if you feel overworked at any point. Use this opportunity to stretch your arms, shoulders, and back to keep them warm and flexible.

    Keep Your Feet on the Ground – Slippery conditions can lead to slipping and falling or strains that can injure your back.

    • Work shoes or boots with good treads will help to minimize injuries from slipping.
    • Spreading sand, rock salt, or kitty litter in your work area will increase traction and reduce accidents.

    If Possible, Stop Shoveling – Use a Snow Blower Instead – When used correctly, a snow blower can put less stress on your lower back than shoveling.

    • Avoid stressing your back by using your legs to push the snow blower while keeping your back straight and knees bent.

    Keeping these guidelines in mind during the winter will lessen the chances of developing new back problems or worsening your back pain while shoveling, and hopefully make your winter healthier and more enjoyable.