Fatal falls in the construction industry most often occur from buildings, structures, scaffolds, and ladders. It only takes half a second for your body to fall 8 feet and only 2 seconds to fall 128 feet! Always be aware of the potential fall hazards in your work environment.
Anytime you are exposed to a fall of 6 feet or more, you must be protected by at least one of these fall protection systems:
GUARDRAIL SYSTEMS: Guardrails protect you by keeping you away from edges where you could fall to a lower level. According to OSHA regulations, a guardrail must be capable of withstanding at least 200 pounds of force applied within 2 inches of the top edge. Make sure guardrails are properly constructed and placed where needed.
SAFETY NET SYSTEMS: Safety nets protect you after you fall. They are designed to stop the fall before you hit the surface below. OSHA requires that safety nets be installed as close as is practical under the surface on which you are working, but no more than 30 feet below. Safety nets should be inspected once a week for damage, wear, and deterioration.
PERSONAL FALL-ARREST SYSTEMS: This consists of an anchorage, connectors, and a body harness, and may also include a lanyard, a deceeration device, lifeline, or combination of these.
It's important that you follow your employer's and manufacturer's instructions and recommendations for using all fall protection systems. Fall protection equipment must be inspected before each use. System components should be compatible with each other to be effective. Make sure you are fully trained to use all the equipment and that you know the intended use of each part of the fall protection system. Always follow safe work practices. If you have any questions about fall protection, ask your supervisor. Don't let lack of knowledge be your downfall.
Falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Workers continue to die as a result of slips, trips, and falls, and too many others suffer disabling injuries. It's important to be aware of the factors that contribute to these slips, trips, and falls, so we can all work to prevent these accidents and injuries on the jobsite.
There are two general types of falls: same-level falls and elevated falls. Same-level falls include slips and trips; while elevated falls involve falls from ladders, an upper level, scaffolds, falls on stairs, etc. (please refer to previous safety meeting on ladder safety) Same level falls are more frequent on a construction site, though elevated falls are potentially more severe. Today, our safety meeting will focus on same level falls and how to prevent them.
Slips are caused by slippery surfaces and/or wearing the wrong footwear. They occur when there is not enough traction between a person's foot and walking surface. Slips usually result in a backward fall. Clean, dry walking surfaces provide the best traction so it's best to keep areas free of water, ice, mud, oil and small items that can roll under your feet like screws, nails, bolts etc. To prevent slips, you can first avoid walking on slippery surfaces and make it a priority to clean up a spill. Make sure to wear boots with slip resistant soles.
Trip occur when one foot strikes and object and stops suddenly, causing the upper body to be thrown forward. Two of the most common contributing factors are poor house-keeping and inadequate lighting. Make sure your work areas are well lit and free of obstructions. Always pick up unused materials and tools.
Although the goal is to prevent falls, knowing HOW TO FALL may help reduce injuries. Keep your elbows, knees, and wrists bent. Don't try to break your fall with your hands or elbows. Tuck in your chin and protect your head with your arm. If you can, try to land on your side instead of your back.
SAFETY REMINDER: REPORT ALL SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS TO YOUR SUPERVISOR IF YOU DON'T THINK YOU SUFFERED ANY INJURIES.
Ladders allow us access to high or out-of-reach places. Whether you are trying to get up on a roof or climb down into a trench, you usually use a ladder. Many different types of ladders can be found on a construction site: straight ladders, extension ladders, fixed ladders, frame ladders, stepladders, and job-built ladders. Every trade uses ladders to extend the limits of its work area.
No matter what type of ladder you use, remember the following guidelines:
- Inspect ladders before use, check for broken rungs, sharp edges, and splinters.
- Remove any oil, grease, or slippery material from the ladder and from your boots.
- Immediately mark defective or broken ladders with "DO NOT USE" so they can be easily identified.
- Set ladders on a firm, level surface and avoid placing them in doorways and high- traffic areas.
- When raising a ladder, always check for overhead electrical lines.
- Secure ladders to prevent them from falling.
- Only one person should be on a ladder at a time.
- Use both hands and face the ladder as you climb up or down.
- Do not exceed the load limit of the ladder.
- Do not overreach.
- Do not use a ladder in place of scaffolding or to support scaffold boards.
Remember these guidelines when using specific types of ladders:
- Never weld from a ladder.
- Open stepladders completely to allow the spreader to lock in place.
- Always secure straight ladders at the top.
- Maintain at least three rungs of overlap on extension ladders.
- Make sure straight and extension ladders are equipped with safety feet.
- Do not stand on the top two steps of a stepladder.
REMEMBER TO ALWAYS USE THE RIGHT LADDER AND USE IT SAFELY!
Brought to you by Equipment World Safety Watch.
Balancing Act : Keeping a level load helps ensure your dump truck remains upright.
The accident: Two dump truck operators were moving dirt to build an embankment as part of a highway project. The driver of one truck thought his dirt was emptied and pulled forward, tipping onto an adjacent dump truck. The driver of the second truck was trapped and suffered an injured back and broken bones.
The bottom line: A post-accident investigation determined the accident was caused by the first driver’s unbalanced load. Once he drove forward, the weight of the load in the raised dump box pulled the truck into the roof of the truck sitting parallel, which also had a raised dump box.
Improving the odds
Tip-overs are a common accident for this type of vehicle, particularly on sites with sloping or uneven terrain. Minimize your risk by recognizing factors that increase the danger of a tip-over.
When the box is in the raised position, maintaining stability becomes difficult. As the center of gravity shifts away from between the frame rails of the box, the risk of tipping over will increase. The drivers in this accident made a critical error by parking parallel to one another during a dumping operation. Never dump when you’re beside another truck, and ensure the surface you’re parked on is as level as possible. If you’re dumping a material that is likely to stick in the box, avoid even the slightest slope. Don’t leave materials in the box overnight during cold weather; freezing temperatures can also cause the load to stick.
The importance of maintenance
Prior to an operation, perform a walk-around of the truck, paying particular attention to the tires. Underinflated rear tires can contribute to tipping over, so be sure and check the pressure. Inspect the suspension system, as well.
A crucial part of ensuring stability is an even load. The material should be loaded evenly from front to back and side to side. In the case of this accident, the remaining material in the box was too heavy on one side. A truck that’s too far back in the box can tip the truck backwards. A load placed too far to the front will negatively impact steering and braking.
If the material you’re carrying is wet, watch for surging loads. If you brake too hard, the load can slide forward, pushing the truck even when the brakes are applied.