Guardrail Safety

You should be familiar with OSHA’s requirements for guardrails so that you can identify locations that need to have guardrails installed, and know the key components of a standard guardrail.  In many situations, other fall protection systems may be used  instead of guardrails, such as personal fall arrest systems or safety nets.  If guardrails are used, remember these guidelines on where and how they should be installed.
First, let’s consider some of the fall hazards that must be guarded:
  1. Ladderways and stairways must be guarded except at the actual point of access.  The access point must have a gate, or be offset from the opening so that no one can walk straight into the hole.
  2. Hatchways and floor opening for chutes must have guardrails or hinged covers.
  3. Any hole in a floor must be guarded with a standard guardrail or cover; this includes skylights.  OSHA defines a hole as “a gap or void 2 inches or more in its least dimension  in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.”
  4. Wall openings or windows must be huarded when there is a drop of 6 feet or more on the other side, and the bottom of the opening is less than 39 inches from the working surface on your side.
  5. Open-sided floors and platforms which are 6 feet or more above the adjacent floor or ground must be guarded.
A standard guardrail will have:
  1. A smooth surfaced top rail at a height of approximately 42 inches.
  2. An intermediate rail at about half the height of the top rail.
  3. A four-inch-high toeboard at floor level.
  4. Vertical posts spaced not more than 8 feet apart.
  5. Paneling or screening if materials are piled high enough or close enough to the edge that a toeboard is inadequate.
By properly guarding holes, opening, and open-sided floors, we can eliminate a big source of potential accidents and injuries.  Know when to use fall protection, and use it.

Extension Ladder Safety

What is an Extension Ladder? Also known as “portable ladders,” extension ladders usually have two sections that operate in brackets or guides allowing for adjustable lengths.  Because extension ladders are not self-supporting they require a stable structure that can withstand the intended load.

PLAN Ahead to Get the Job Done Safely.

  • Use a ladder that can sustain at least four times the maximum intended load, except that each extra-heavy duty type 1A metal or plastic ladder shall sustain at least 3.3 times the maximum intended load. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and labels on the ladder. To determine the correct ladder, consider your weight plus the weight of your load. Do not exceed the load rating and always include the weight of all tools, materials and equipment.
  • A competent person must visually inspect all extension ladders before use for any defects such as: missing rungs, bolts, cleats, screws and loose components. Where a ladder has these or other defects, it must be immediately marked as defective or tagged with “Do Not Use” or similar language.
  • Allow sufficient room to step off the ladder safely. Keep the area around the bottom and the top of the ladder clear of equipment, materials and tools. If access is obstructed, secure the top of the ladder to a rigid support that will not deflect, and add a grasping device to allow workers safe access.
  • Set the ladder at the proper angle. When a ladder is leaned against a wall, the bottom of the ladder should be one-quarter of the ladder’s working length away from the wall. For access to an elevated work surface, extend the top of the ladder three feet above that surface or secure the ladder at its top.
  • Before starting work, survey the area for potential hazards, such as energized overhead power lines. Ladders shall have nonconductive side rails if they are used where the worker or the ladder could contact exposed energized electrical equipment. Keep all ladders and other tools at least 10 feet away from any power lines.
  • Set the base of the ladder so that the bottom sits securely and so both side rails are evenly supported. The ladder rails should be square to the structure against which it is leaning with both footpads placed securely on a stable and level surface.
  • Secure the ladder’s dogs or pawls before climbing.
  • When using a ladder in a high-activity area, secure it to prevent movement and use a barrier to redirect workers and equipment. If the ladder is placed in front of a door, always block off the door.

TRAIN Workers to Use Extension Ladders Safely. Employers must train each worker to recognize and minimize ladder-related hazards.

Safe Ladder Use—


  • Maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing/ descending a ladder.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or descending.
  • Keep the body inside the side rails.
  • Use extra care when getting on or off the ladder at the top or bottom. Avoid tipping the ladder over sideways or causing the ladder base to slide out.
  • Carry tools in a tool belt or raise tools up using a hand line. Never carry tools in your hands while climbing up/down a ladder. • Extend the top of the ladder three feet above the landing. (See Figure 2.)
  • Keep ladders free of any slippery materials.


  • Place a ladder on boxes, barrels, or unstable bases.
  • Use a ladder on soft ground or unstable footing.
  • Exceed the ladder’s maximum load rating.
  • Tie two ladders together to make them longer.
  • Ignore nearby overhead power lines.
  • Move or shift a ladder with a person or equipment on the ladder.
  • Lean out beyond the ladder’s side rails.
  • Use an extension ladder horizontally like a platform.

First Aid Basics

First-aid is important emergency care administered by trained individuals for an injury or sudden illness before emergency medical treatment is available. All injuries should be treated since seemingly unimportant ones, i.e., splinters or puncture wounds can result in infection.

Follow these procedures before medical help arrives:

BLEEDING from lacerations, etc. is the most visible result of an injury. We have between 5-6 quarts of blood in our body. Most people can lose a small amount of blood, but if a quart or more is quickly lost, it could lead to shock and/or death. Treat bleeding by elevating the wound, using a clean cloth and applying pressure with your hand until the bleeding stops. Never use a tourniquet (or similar device) to control the flow of blood except in response to an extreme emergency, such as a severed arm or leg.

UNCONSCIOUSNESS – Determine responsiveness by gently tapping the victim and asking “Are you ok?” If no response and victim is not breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR and seek medical aid.

SHOCK – If not treated quickly shock can threaten the life of a victim. Shock occurs when the body’s important functions are threatened by not getting enough blood or when major organs and tissues don’t receive enough oxygen. Symptoms include: a pale or bluish skin color that is cold to the touch, vomiting, dull and sunken eyes, and unusual thirst. Shock requires medical treatment to be reversed. Prevent the loss of body heat by covering the victim with blankets.

CHOKING – Prior to administering the Heimlich maneuver first ask the victim to cough, speak, or breathe. If the victim can do none of these, stand behind the victim, locate the bottom rib with your hand, move your hand across the abdomen, make a fist and place the side of your thumb on the stomach. Position your other hand over your fist and press into the victim’s stomach with a quick upward thrust until the food or object is dislodged.

BURNS – There are a many different types of burns such as: thermal, chemical, electrical or contact burns. Each of these can occur in a different way, but treatment for them is very similar. First run cold water over the burn for a minimum of 30 minutes. Flushing the burn takes priority over calling for help. If clothing is stuck to the burn, don’t try to remove it. Instead cut or tear the clothing from the burn area. Cover with a clean, cotton material or leave uncovered if none is available. Do not scrub or apply any soap, ointment, or home remedies.

HEAT EXHAUSTION AND STROKE  — Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two different things, although they are commonly confused as the same condition. Heat exhaustion occurs due to loss of body fluids and salts where there is poor air circulation. The body reacts by increasing the heart rate and blood circulation. Symptoms include: fatigue, dizziness and disorientation, normal skin temperature but a damp and clammy feeling. Treat by moving the victim to a cool spot and encourage drinking of cool water and rest. Heat stroke occurs when the body’s sweat glands have shut down. Symptoms include: confusion, collapse, unconsciousness, and fever with dry, mottled skin. Immediately move the victim to a cool place and pour cool water over the victim.

HYPOTHERMIA can be life threatening. Symptoms include: lower than normal body temperature, shivering, apathy, disorientation, drowsiness and eventually unconsciousness. Immediately move the victim into a nearby shelter, remove wet clothes and replace with dry clothes or blanket.

POISONING – Move the victim away from the poison then provide treatment. If its in solid form, i.e., pills, remove it from the victim’s mouth using a clean cloth wrapped around your finger. If it’s a gas use a respirator to protect yourself then move them to fresh air. If its a corrosive, remove the clothing and flush with water for 30 minutes. Have the container or label with you when calling for medical help.

FIRST-AID SUPPLIES should reflect the kinds of injuries that may occur, and must be stored in an area where they are easily accessible. An automated external defibrillator (AED) should be considered when selecting first-aid supplies and equipment.

GOOD SAMARITAN LAWS – Most states have enacted Good Samaritan Laws to encourage people to help others in emergency situations. These laws give legal protection to people who provide emergency care to ill or injured persons.

Worker Safety Infographic

One of the biggest risks restoration contractors face is in employee safety. Worker injuries occur at a much higher percentage than general liability or auto insurance claims. The following infographic provides some insight into where you are most at risk for experiencing a worker-related injury and how you can help prevent them.

Whether you’re taking the initiative to start a safety program or you’ve been assigned the task, your workers compensation carrier and agent can be an invaluable resource.   Most workers compensation companies have dedicated loss control professionals that will come out and inspect your operations free of charge.   By surveying job sites, procedures, and office policies, they can help ensure your workers have everything they need to avoid injury or illness.

In addition to that, as a restoration contractor specialist we have a number of safety resources we can provide to your company to help implement your internal procedures to avoid potential claims.  To find out more, please contact our office.




Importance of Prompt Claim Reporting

We all know the best way to lower workers compensation costs for restoration contractors is to prevent accidents from every happening.  Unfortunately, that is essentially impossible to do.   So after an accident does occur, the simplest way to control the cost of a claim is to report it promptly.

For many injured workers, they are unfamiliar with the claims process and concerns can arise about their financial security, physical and emotional well being, and their ability to return to work.  However, by promptly reporting claims, you are allowing the claims adjuster for your workers compensation carrier to quickly establish contact with the injured employee to answer questions and eliminate concerns.

Contact between the claims adjuster and employee can lead a reduction in claims costs by:

  • Facilitating prompt and appropriate medical care which may possibly avoid medical complications and reduce treatment costs.
  • Reducing litigation by providing immediate contact and prompt delivery of benefits.
  • Ensuring prompt and successful return to work to reduce the loss of productivity.
  • Allowing enough time for a complete accident investigation.  (This will also allow for a more accurate portrayal of the events that led to the accidents as it is still fresh.)
  • Avoiding fines or surcharges that may be awarded if employee benefits are delayed for any reason.

Within your company’s policies and procedures should be a requirement for accidents to be reported the same day with a complete report of the details due within 24 hours.  Doing so will help avoid increased claim costs and improve the medical care your employee receives.

If you would like to find out more about how ARI can help your restoration company implement proper accident reporting procedures, please contact our office.