From the soil that holds the building foundation to the lights that illuminate the sky, construction equipment has helped build our infrastructure for over a hundred years. These modern marvels have improved manufacturing, increased production, and continue to help reduce hazards when used correctly. This blog will explore what training is required to become an operator and the necessary refresher courses to continue to stay certified.
Initial Training Requirements
OSHA requires employers to implement a training program that provides the operator with the principles to operate equipment safely. This includes a formal instruction (presentation, video, etc.), practical demonstration, and a written evaluation. Topics that should be covered in the training include:
Once the employee has demonstrated they are competent in operating the equipment safely and have passed their evaluations, employers can certify them to operate the given equipment.
Depending on the type of equipment you are operating, refresher training may be required to continue being certified. While all equipment is not required to have a refresher course, most companies recommend refresher training every three years to update the operator on relevant topics and changes to the equipment. Alongside recommended training every three years, refresher training is also required when:
If the employee fails to complete additional refresher training or continues to operate equipment in an unsafe manner, additional actions and training should be reviewed before the employee returns to operating equipment.
When developing a company equipment training program, it is important to remember training is only part of a safe operation. Be sure to review the OSHA standards, operator manuals, and operating procedures when creating training to help make your certified operators safe, competent, and mindful of those around them. To keep the conversation going, download the Forklift Safety Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
Falls are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. This makes working from heights one of the most dangerous tasks within construction. Ladders are the most frequently used equipment when working from heights due to their ease of use and portability. In this blog we will be reviewing portable ladders and how to properly inspect, use, and store them.
Prior to using your ladder, a proper inspection and ladder placement is crucial for safety. When inspecting and placing your ladder, make sure that:
Falls from heights below 6ft are the most common type of fall in the workplace. To reduce your risk of falls when using a ladder, be sure to:
Once your work is complete and you have safely descended your ladder, proper storage will help increase the lifespan of your ladder. When storing your ladder, make sure that:
Ladders are a fast, effective way to work at heights. While falls from these short distances are common and dangerous, following the proper inspections, use, and storage of ladders will help keep you and others safe around your jobsite. To keep the conversation going, download the Ladder Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
As the temperature drops and rain turns to snow, the risk of Cold Stress can become increasingly dangerous for workers exposed to the elements. Cold Stress is a condition that occurs when the body can no longer maintain its normal temperature and begins to drop. This drop can cause tissue damage to the skin and potentially death if the body cannot retain heat. In this blog we will examine the factors of Cold Stress, the two main types of Cold Stress, and how to spot the symptoms.
Factors of Cold Stress
While many people believe temperature is the main factor of Cold Stress, there are many others that affect the body in worse ways. These factors include:
Types of Cold Stress
The two main types of Cold Stress are Frostbite and Hypothermia. Frostbite is a skin condition that develops when the skin and underlying tissues freeze causing a serious rash. If not treated, the rash can cause the skin cells to die resulting in the affected area turning black. Hypothermia is a serious medical condition when your body cannot produce heat, causing your body to decrease in temperature and begin to shut down. If medical attention is not sought quickly, organ failure or death can occur. When working outdoors, the typical symptoms to monitor include:
Cold Stress is one of the biggest safety concerns while working outdoors. Before you begin a long shift outside, make sure you know and understand the weather, your health, and how to spot the symptoms to keep yourself and others safe. To keep the conversation going, download the Cold Stress Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
It’s that time of year where lights illuminate the home, families gather around the fire for warmth, and everyone waits for sleigh bells in the night. While the holidays are a great time to spend with family and friends, there are dangers lurking around the home that can turn Christmas cheer into fright and fear. Let’s take a look at some of the dangers surrounding the holidays and how we can bring the safety principles from work into the home:
Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are a dangerous combination wherever you may be. Around the home these conditions make for slip/trip hazards and the potential to develop cold stress. When working and playing outdoors some things to remember are:
Christmas lights and décor illuminating the fireplace are some of the things that make the holidays special. While the lights and fire make for cozy comforts, the added electrical/heat sources run the risk of fires. Before hanging the lights and stocking the fireplace, be sure to:
Working at Heights
Decorating the home almost always includes outdoor lights and large tree displays that can’t be setup from the ground alone. Falls from heights are the most common injury at work and at home making this decorating the most dangerous. Before you climb the ladder, remember to:
The holidays are meant to be a wonderful time of year. Make sure you can celebrate with friends and family by being safe at work and around the home. To keep the conversation going, download the NFPA Safety Tips or comment below.
PPE - Who is Responsible
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is designed to provide protection from specific workplace hazards. When hazards can’t be eliminated by engineering or administrative controls, PPE provides the last line of defense for worker safety. While most PPE is to be provided by the employer, there are some instances where workers must supply their own. Here we will review the PPE requirements of employers and the requirements of employees.
When it comes to PPE, employers are responsible for providing personal protective equipment for specific hazards in the workplace. Employers are required to conduct a Hazard Assessment of the workplace to determine the present hazards and provide the types of PPE that will protect workers from these hazards. Typical forms of PPE in the workplace include:
Once the proper PPE has been determined, the employer will provide the PPE and training to the employee to make sure it is properly used and stored. Training on PPE must include:
If work conditions change, additional PPE is required, or if current PPE is not protecting from workplace hazards, additional hazard assessments and training need to be completed.
Employees are responsible for providing their own personal protective equipment when it comes to ordinary protection or non-specialty protection. This type of protection includes:
Identifying the types of hazards and the effective protection is the most important aspect of PPE. As an employer you are responsible for identifying hazards and providing the protection against them. As an employee you are tasked with understanding the protection provided and keeping it maintained properly. To keep the conversation going, download the Personal Protective Equipment Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
Fire Extinguisher Guide
On average, a fire is reported every 23 seconds in America. When it comes to fire safety, fire extinguishers are the first line of defense to keeping a fire from getting out of control. This blog will help explore where they are needed, the types of fire extinguishers, and how to properly use one in case of an emergency.
Where Fire Extinguishers Are Needed
Per NFPA 10 code requirements, fire extinguishers are required in all occupancy types except for one and two family dwellings. When you are required to have an extinguisher, making sure they are accessible and visible are two key factors that can help keep a fire under control. This is why NFPA recommends extinguishers are placed along normal travel pathways that are free of obstructions. Another requirement regarding placement of extinguishers is a maximum travel distance ranging from 30ft-75ft depending on the type of extinguisher and size of the room.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are five types of fire extinguishers, each marked for specific fire hazards that may be present. The types of extinguishers and their use include:
The PASS Method
When it comes to using a fire extinguisher, the PASS Method is the most widely accepted technique taught for extinguisher operation. PASS stands for:
Knowing where a fire extinguisher is located, making sure it is the right type, and following the PASS Method is the most effective way for an individual to stop a fire from spreading. Training for individuals and identifying extinguisher locations in your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) are two ways an employer can make sure they are prepared for a fire emergency. To keep the conversation going, download the Fire Extinguishers Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
Safe Use of Trench Boxes
When it comes to open excavations or trenches, OSHA allows four different types of protection: benching, sloping, shoring, and shielding. Shielding involves the use of trench boxes, shields, or other types of support to prevent cave-ins. This blog will discuss when a trench box can be used and how to safely use them while working below grade.
When to Use Trench Boxes
Per OSHA requirements (1926.652), employees must be protected when excavations are more than 5ft in depth. Trench boxes are a great protection system when workers are needed where benching or sloping of the soil is not possible. Trench boxes can also be utilized for utility work where large excavations are unnecessary. When selecting a trench box or other type of support, it is important to consider factors such as soil classification, depth of cut, water content within the soil, and other loads in the vicinity. When using trench boxes, some rules to follow include:
Installing Trench Boxes
When installing or removing trench boxes, the protection of workers is always critical. Make sure to identify your soil type as well as the limitations of your trench box before it is used. Some rules to installing/removing trench boxes include:
Excavations and trenches have potential hazards that are fatal if not handled correctly. Make sure your competent person understands the types of protective systems and which is best for their situation. To keep the conversation going, download the Trenching & Excavation Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
QR Codes in Construction
Construction is one of the few industries that still relies heavily on hands-on work. With a job that requires so much hands-on activity, new technologies like a quick response code (QR code) can help improve productivity, reduce downtime, and create a digital network of forms and inspections. This blog will address what a QR code is and how it is being implemented within the construction industry.
What is a QR Code?
A QR Code is a two dimensional barcode that is used to access online information via a digital camera (phone, tablet, etc.). Originally created for the automotive industry for inventory tracking, the QR code quickly gained popularity in other industries due to its readability and larger storage capacity for information. When using a QR code, the black squares are arranged in a unique pattern that allows the data to be interpreted when scanned. Due to its size and features, all QR codes are unique and offer nearly a limitless option for use.
Uses Within Construction
Paperless Checklists and Inspections
Maintaining daily and weekly checklists/inspections can create lots of paperwork and storage problems. Most of these documents can now be made electronically accessible using a QR code. Now employees can scan, fill out the form, and it is tracked/maintained online.
Toolbox Talks and Sign-In Sheets
Sharing the weekly safety information and timesheets with foremen/superintendents can be more efficient with QR codes. Scan the code, fill out the employee information, and send to the office on a regular basis so time and training is maintained effectively.
Emergency Contact Information
Have an emergency on the jobsite? Is an employee injured and not sure who to contact? QR codes are great for sharing contact information like phone numbers in case of an emergency. Quickly scan a QR code to access the project or safety manager’s phone number or scan to find out an individual’s emergency contact.
Equipment and Inventory Tracking
As equipment and tools move from job to job, keeping track of where they are and who has them can be difficult. Using QR codes to check in/out tools can help provide an accurate inventory of equipment and allow for the ability to know when tools need maintenance or removed from use.
Employee Training Management
Having trouble keeping track of employee safety, training, and HR records? Finding it difficult to know when training needs renewed or making sure it hasn’t expired? STAC uses QR codes to help create employee profiles that when scanned, show their training and HR records to remind you when they are close to expiration. Utilizing QR codes for training management allows for easy recordkeeping and a singular storage place for all documents.
These are just a few ways QR codes are being used in the construction industry. There are many other uses for QR codes and even more technologies becoming available that help improve productivity and reduce administrative time on a jobsite. What ways does your company use QR codes? Where could your company see the benefit in using QR codes? To find out more about STAC and the way we use QR codes, scan or click the QR code below.
Recognizing Heat Illness
With summer officially here, it is time to enjoy the great outdoors. While the sun beats down, many people will remember sunscreen to stop sun burns, but will they remember the most dangerous effects from the sun? Heat Illness is a medical condition that comes from your body’s inability to cope when it is overheated. Many factors like temperature, humidity, direct sun exposure, and physical activity can contribute to the effects of Heat Illness. This blog will be exploring the four types of Heat Illness, how to recognize the signs, and how to prevent serious injury.
The most common form of Heat Illness is a Heat Rash. This condition is caused by extensive sweating in areas like your neck, armpits, elbows, or knees creating a red cluster of pimples or blisters. While a Heat Rash may be uncomfortable, it is usually mild and can be relieved by keeping the area dry and applying powder for comfort.
Muscle pains caused by the loss of body salt through sweat are called Heat Cramps. Heat cramps are uncomfortable and usually affect the stomach, arms, or legs. To relieve the effects of Heat Cramps, replenish your body’s fluid loss with water and carbohydrate/electrolyte sports drinks every 15 to 20 minutes.
As your body heats up, it is important to make sure it can cool itself back down. If your body temperature begins to climb over 100°F, you may start to feel signs of Heat Exhaustion. Headache, dizziness, confusion, and body weakness are all signs of Heat Exhaustion. If you see these signs, get the person out of the area to cool down and replenish their liquids. Make sure the symptoms do not worsen and contact emergency personnel if they do.
The most serious and potentially fatal Heat Illness is Heat Stroke. Heat Stroke occurs when your body can no longer cool itself and your body temperature reaches over 104°F. Confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and loss of sweat are the common signs of your body shutting down. If someone begins showing signs of Heat Stroke, get medical help immediately. If you can, move the person to a shaded area, remove any heavy clothing, and wet their body down to lower their body temperature.
Now that you know the signs and symptoms of Heat Illness, here are some things you can do to keep you and others safe from heat-related health problems:
Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors but making sure your body is prepared for the heat is an important part of your to-do list. Know your limits, make sure you are acclimated, and stay hydrated as you spend the day in the sun. To keep the conversation going, download the Heat Stress Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
Falls have continued to be the leading cause of occupational deaths in the United States for over 10 years accounting for nearly 1,000 deaths yearly. The unfortunate part, all falls are preventable. Multiple organizations partner with OSHA each year to have both educational and promotional campaigns to help prevent falls and save lives in their industry. One thing is clear, training and employer provided resources are key in helping prevent falls in the workplace.
OSHA has two primary fall prevention standards:
Proper planning through a Job Hazard Analysis or Job Safety Analysis (JHA/JSA) is the acceptable method of identifying hazards on a jobsite or facility. Through the use of JHAs, workers collaborate and communicate to come up with a safe way to perform the task at hand. While providing the safest process, recording the information for estimators will also allow for safety equipment to be included for future work. As each day begins, the JHA should be reviewed in a morning huddle or pre-task plan to make sure that conditions have not changed or that additional equipment, personnel, or tools are not necessary to complete the day’s work. Creating a plan and adjusting the plan as new conditions arise are a vital part of getting the job done safely.
Providing the right tools and equipment is the second most important component of ensuring worker safety. Before the project begins while using the JHA and past experience, the employers or supervisors should identify what tools or equipment are needed to get the job done. Once that happens a valiant effort should be made to provide all possible means to ensure worker safety. Is a lift required? Is a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) needed? Do you need guardrails or floor coverings? All these questions need answered before any work begins. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide the equipment and resources needed to complete the work in the safest manner possible.
Understanding how and when to perform certain tasks is key to preventing falls in the industry. Training on how to use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), ladders, scaffolds, and guardrails are critical components of a fall prevention program. Not only should workers be trained on how to use a specific tool or piece of equipment, they should also know how to recognize and mitigate hazards as they are made apparent. Supervisors should verify worker training and their competency to make sure employees can identify and mitigate hazards as they work. If a worker fails to complete a task or has a near miss then retraining may be necessary to make sure that there is not an accident in the future.
It is a proven fact that with proper knowledge, equipment, and collaboration all falls are preventable. Planning for tasks, Providing proper equipment, and Training your employees are critical parts to fall prevention plans that will save lives. To keep the conversation going, download the General Fall Protection Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.