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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?

KEEP JOB SITES SAFE AND PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC!

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.

BE SAFE, PROTECT YOUR BACK, AND USE THE ABOVE PRACTICES WHEN LIFTING!

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

BE SAFE, PROVIDE PROPER GUARDRAILS WHEN NEEDED ON THE JOB SITE!

SITE SAFETY MEETING – TOOL BOX TALK: LIGHTNING SAFETY – MYTHS AND FACTS

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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.

BE SAFE, TAKE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS WHEN WORKING  IN SEVERE WEATHER!