Workplace Safety Guide: Construction – Texas CEO Magazine

Security is a top-down activity in any business. As CEO, it is our responsibility to lead a safety culture that encompasses the entire organization. In this guide, we share some of the top hazards and controls in the construction industry, which is currently booming in Texas.

If you run a construction business, make sure your safety manager understands these focus four, which are construction industry hazards so dangerous that they have earned special attention from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Collectively, the four targets account for nearly 60% of construction worker fatalities. Eliminating these accidents would save 500 lives a year, according to OSHA. Here’s more information on each of the four axes of the construction industry and how employers and workers can do their part to keep everyone safe.

Falls count for 40 percent of construction worker deaths, making it the most dangerous of the four priority hazards.

Protection against falls. Use fall protection when working at heights of 6 feet or more. Remember that regardless of fall distance, employers must provide fall protection when employees are working over hazardous equipment and machinery. Inspect fall protection before each use for broken parts, stress cracks, frayed or bent cords, and other damage.

Scaffolding. Scaffolding should be designed by a competent person and include guardrails along the open sides and ends. Inspect guardrails, connectors, ties, footings, ties, braces, and boards for any damage. Immediately remove damaged scaffolding from service.

Housekeeping. A clean and tidy workplace promotes productivity and reduces the risk of slips, trips and falls. Keep walkways, stairways, and exits clear of goods, supplies, and cleaning supplies. Clean up spills as soon as possible and use “Caution: Wet Floor” signs in the meantime. In wet weather, use non-slip floor mats to keep people’s feet on solid ground.

There are four common causes of collision injuries: flying, falling, swinging and rolling objects.

Flying objects. Whenever workers use power tools and perform tasks that require pushing, pulling and prying, they risk being struck by flying objects. Controls include wearing eye and face protection where necessary, putting machine guards in place and reducing the compressed air used for cleaning to 30 psi.

Falling objects. We are at risk of falling objects when working under cranes, scaffolding and other overhead work. Controls include wearing hard hats at all times, using toeboards and debris nets to catch falling objects, and not exceeding the lifting capacity of cranes and hoists.

Oscillating objects. Mechanically lifted materials can swing, twist or spin and strike workers. To stay safe, stay out of the swing range of cranes, backhoes and other equipment; use a tag line if a foot worker must control the load and be extra careful on windy days.

Rolling objects. One of the most common accidents involving rolling objects is when a worker is struck by a vehicle in a work area. Never drive a vehicle in reverse with an obstructed rear view unless it has an audible reverse alarm or another worker is signaling it is safe. It is also essential to apply the parking brakes when vehicles and equipment are parked and to block the wheels if they are on a slope. Workers must avoid the blind spots of vehicles at all times.

The main causes of electrical hazards are contact with overhead power lines, contact with live sources and improper use of extension cords.

Overhead power lines. Overhead and underground power lines carry high voltage that can cause electrocution, severe burns and falls. Stay at least 10 feet from overhead power lines, use a spotter to search for power lines, and always assume overhead lines are live. Ask the utility company to de-energize lines and identify buried power lines in the area. It is helpful to use non-conductive wooden or fiberglass ladders when working near power lines.

Energized sources. Live parts, damaged or bare wires, and faulty equipment and tools can cause electric shocks and burns. Controls include isolating electrical parts with guards, barriers or covers; grounding of power systems, circuits and equipment; and follow lockout/tagout procedures.

Extensions. Do not abuse power cords. Kinked, knotted, crushed, cut, or bent cords cannot insulate electrical current safely. Inspect extension cords for damaged insulation, exposed wires, frayed ends, and missing or unsecured prongs. If you find a damaged cord, remove it from service immediately. And never make unauthorized modifications to your extension cords.

Trapped or between injuries occur when workers are crushed between objects. Common examples include collapses, workers being pulled into machinery, and workers crushed between rolling, slippery or moving objects.

Landslides. To avoid cave-ins, do not work in an unprotected trench 5 feet or more deep. Also, enter and exit trenches only using a properly designed ladder, stairway or ramp.

Caught in the machines. These hazards can be controlled by never removing a guard when a tool is in use, following lockout/tagout procedures for clearing jams and cleaning machines, not wearing loose clothing or jewelry, and tying long hair.

Overwritten between objects: Control this hazard, know where heavy equipment is at all times and keep a safe distance from it. Never stand between moving materials and a stationary structure, vehicle, or stacked materials. Finally, enforce a traffic control plan and make sure workers wear high-visibility clothing that meets ANSI standards.

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Susan W. Lloyd