Tips to Avoid Being Struck by Hazards

Working on a construction site can be dangerous. There are a variety of hazards that can cause harm or death, so it is critical to workers to ensure proper safety procedures and precautions are always implemented. Too many individuals are injured or killed on the job when they are struck by a vehicle, falling or flying objects, or by a concrete or masonry wall that collapses. In today’s blog, let’s discuss tips to prevent injury or death from being impacted by hazards. 

“A total of 1,008 construction workers died on the job in 2020.” -US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Preventing injury or death from being struck by a vehicle: 

•    Wear a seat belt! Seat belts save lives, both on roadways and construction sites. (Note: Don’t wear one if the vehicle is only designed for standing up or has no rollover protective structure, like a roller used on paving jobs.)  
•    Ensure all vehicles are inspected before each shift. Everything should be in good working condition, including the brakes, before you begin work. Use your parking brake when the vehicle is not in use and chock the wheels if parked on an incline. Never lift or load more than the vehicle can hold.  
•    If you are driving a vehicle in reverse and you can’t see behind you, be sure to have a reverse alarm that people can hear and have another worker signal to you that all is safe. Ensure no one is in the way when lifting and dumping devices. Get out and look for people and hazards.  
•    Don’t drive vehicles in areas that are not safely constructed or maintained. Clear all personnel when lifting or dumping devices and lower or block all blades.  
•    All forklift operators must be trained and certified. Equipment must be inspected, and all safe operating procedures must be followed. Drive slowly, and don’t travel with elevated loads. Make sure all signal alarms work and watch for hazardous conditions (involving both workers and objects).  
•    If you are working in traffic, use traffic signs and barricades. Use flaggers if needed. Be sure to stay out of blind spots. Workers must wear warning clothing, like orange vests. If they are working at night, these must be reflective material. Use proper lighting when working at night. Use traffic barricades whenever possible. If you can’t barricade the traffic, use heavy equipment with impact attenuators (crash cushions) within the work zone to protect you from moving traffic. Be alert for pedestrians in urban areas.  

Preventing injury or death from being struck by falling or flying objects: 

•    Inspect tools, cranes, and hoists to ensure all are in good condition.  
•    Use toeboards, screens, debris nets, and guardrails on scaffolds to prevent tools/other items from falling from overhead work areas.    
•    If you are working underneath cranes, hoists, or scaffolds, never work under a suspended load. Barricade hazard areas and post warning signs. Don’t exceed capacity; don’t assume the operator has seen you. Watch out for power lines, unstable soil, and high winds.  
•    Materials stored shall not be placed within 6 feet of Hostway or floor openings nor within 10 feet of an exterior wall which doesn’t extend above the fabric.  
•    Don’t use hand tools with loose, cracked, or splintered handles, or use impact tools with mushroomed heads; the head could fly off, striking you or others. Operators of powder-actuated tools (gunpowder) must be trained and licensed. Train all workers on the safe operation of devices and inspect all tools before use.  
•    Train workers on safely operating power tools, such as saws, drills, and grinders. Inspect all tools before use and wear protective gear. Guard rotating and moving parts and all guards must be in place when devices are used.  
•    Secure tools and other items to prevent them from falling on the people below; stack and secure materials (even from wind gusts) to prevent sliding, falling, or collapsing. Always keep areas clear of clutter. 
•    Use personal protective equipment to avoid being hit by falling or flying objects. Wear a hard hat, safety glasses, goggles, and face shields. Wear hearing protection when needed.  
•    Reduce compressed air used for cleaning to 30 psi, and only use it with the proper guards and other protective equipment. And never clean your clothing with compressed air: you could be injured by a particle driven into your eyes or skin by force.
“Of the 42 annual crane-related deaths, around 60% involve a falling object.” -US Bureau of Labor Statistics  

Preventing injury or death when building concrete or masonry walls: 

Workers can be struck by materials when the lifting equipment puts the slabs in position or when materials are not stored properly and are not yet stable.  

To prevent these types of accidents:  
•    Don’t place loads on concrete structures until someone qualified says that it’s safe to do.   
•    Shore structures until permanent supporting elements are secured; concrete should be tested to make sure it has enough support strength. 
•    Don’t overload lifting devices; use automatic dev machines to support the forms if the lifting mechanism fails.  
•    Use a Personal Fall Arrest System with a full-body harness to protect you from falls if other fall protection is unavailable.  

Of course, proper training is key to safety. In all the above-mentioned situations, be sure that you are properly educated and adequately trained to the work as well as in the equipment used in these areas of work. 

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