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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.