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ARI Blog: Article

Top 5 Construction Safety Hazards

Jobsite safety should be of the utmost importance to your restoration company. A job site accident can cause thousands of dollars in damage, slow progress, and negatively affect your company's reputation. We took a list of OSHA's Top 5 Most Frequently Cited Standards in Construction. For each standard cited, we briefly explain the standard or hazard, along with some general tips for workers to keep in mind and some of the requirements for employers to follow to provide a safe work environment.

1. Subpart M – Fall Protection – 1926.501 Duty to Have Fall Protection.

Number of Citations Issued Last Year: 7,133

Fall protection is the most cited standard in the construction industry and is one of the leading causes of worker deaths. Employers must assess job sites better and implement fall protection systems to protect workers.

Workers: Workers should familiarize themselves with all potential fall hazards on a job site. Never work in an area where fall protection systems have yet to be installed. Workers using personal fall arrest systems should inspect them before each use to ensure they are working correctly. The lanyard or lifeline should be short enough to prevent the worker from making contact at a lower level in the event of a fall. This means considering the length of the lanyard, dynamic elongation due to elastic stretch, and the worker's height.

Employers: Employers must provide fall protection systems to protect their workers on walking or working surfaces with unprotected edges or sides six feet above a lower level. Fall protection can include guardrails, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems. Guardrails are the only method approved that prevents falls from occurring. Safety nets and personal fall arrest systems prevent workers from falling a great distance.

Fall protection includes protecting workers from falling into holes such as eleva or shafts, skylights, and excavation points. Employers are also required to protect workers from falling objects by wearing hard hats and installing toeboards, screens, or guardrails, erecting canopies, or barricading the area to keep workers out.

2. Subpart L – Scaffolds – 1926.451 General Requirements.

Number of Citations Issued last year: 4,492

Approximately 65% of construction workers perform work on scaffolds. Employees working on and around scaffolding are exposed to falls, electrocutions, and falling object hazards.

Workers: Hard hats should be worn when working on, under, or around a scaffold. Workers should also wear sturdy, non-skid work boots and use tool lanyards when working on platforms to prevent slips and falls and to protect workers below. Workers should never work on scaffolding covered in ice, water, or mud. Workers are prohibited from using boxes, ladders, or other objects to increase their working height when on a scaffold.

Workers should never exceed the maximum load when working on scaffolds. Never leave tools, equipment, or materials on the podium at the end of a shift. Workers should not climb scaffolding anywhere except to access the working platform. Tools and materials should be hoisted to the working platform once the worker has mounted the scaffold.

If personal fall arrest systems are required for the scaffold, you will work on thoroughly inspecting the worker's equipment for damage and wear. Workers should anchor the system to a safe point that prevents them from falling more than six feet before stopping.

Employers: All scaffolding should be designed, erected, and disassembled by a competent person. , podium person should also inspect to reach before the start of work each day to ensure that it is safe for use.

Scaffolding should be erected on solid footing, fully planked, and at least 10 feet from power lines. Free-fall should be erected with guardrails, mid rails, and exceedworker'salified toeboards to protect employees working on, underframe, and around scaffolding.

3. Subpart X – Stairways and Ladders – 1926.1053 Ladders.

Number of Citations Issued last year: 2,662

Improper ladder use is one of the leading causes of falls resulting in injury or death. Reasons for ladder falls include incorrect ladder choice, failure to secure the ladder properly, and attempting to carry tools and materials by hand while climbing.

Workers: Always maintain three points of contact while ascending and descending a ladder with both feet and at least one hand. Portable ladders should be long enough to be placed at a stable angle and extended three feet above the work surface. Workers should tie ladders to the structure point at the top and bottom to avoid sliding or falling. Tools and materials should be carried up using a tool belt or a rope to pull things up once you've stopped climbing. Never load ladders, including the construction, materials, and tools, beyond their rated capacity.

Employers: A competent person should inspect all ladders before use each day. Defective ladders should be marked or tagged out and taken out of service until properly repaired. Workers should be trained on ladder safety and know how to select the proper ladder for the job. All ladders on the construction site should conform to OSHA standards. This includes job-made ladders, fixed ladders, and portable ladders.

4. Subpart M – Fall Protection – 1926.503 Training Requirements.

Number of Citations Issued last year: 1,452

Providing proper and ongoing training to workers can go a long way in reducing the number of falls suffered at the construction site.

Workers: Workers should be able to recognize the hazards of falling and know the procedures to follow to minimize risks and prevent falls.

Employers: Topics of the training program should include the nature of fall hazards present on the construction site, proper erection, inspection, and maintenance of fall protection systems, use of fall protection systems and personal fall arrest systems, and the role of the employee in safety monitoring and the fall protection plan.

Employers must also maintain certification records of fall protection planning for all employees. Retraining is required for changes that render prior training obsolete and instances where it is apparent that a worker has not retained enough knowledge from the training program to ensure their safety.

5. Subpart E – Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – 1926.102 Eye and Face Protection.

Number of Citations Issued last year:1,349

OSHA requires that workers be provided with and wear face and eye protection to protect them from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gasses or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. When flying object hazards are present, eye protection must be equipped with side protection or make risk strain must hable side protectors.

Workers: When wearing eye and face protection, workers should not interfere with their movements and fit snugly on their faces. Eye and face protection should be kept clean and in good repair.

Employers: Employers are required to provide eye and face protection to workers free of charge. Eye and face protection must meet the following consensus standards: ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R01998), ANSI Z87.1-2003, or ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010 requirements. Employers should issue eye and face protection to workers based on an assessment of anticipated hazards.

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