Safe Lifting with Soft Slings

Lifting is a dangerous enough act but lifting with soft slings can be even more dangerous. Workers should never stand under a suspended load, even workers involved in the lifting. Anyone working or visiting a site should be informed of this.

Also workers should never ride on top of the load being lifted. Workers should be careful about where they stand in relation to a load when lifting is occurring because the load may slip or fall and hit into them. Workers should never stand with their backs to the load.

Workers engaged in the lifting must lift vertically to avoid the load swinging horizontally when lifting off the ground and never use the equipment to drag the goods.

Experts also say the load should be positioned in such a way that it makes removal of the lifting equipment easy so that force is not needed. Workers should always avoid choke-hitching because loads can easily tip over.

Once everything is attached, begin by test-lifting the load slowly and carefully off the ground. While doing this check that it is still safe to lift the load and check the angles before continuing. Make sure that the load is distributed as evenly as possible.

It is often overlooked that as the lifting angle grows the pressure increases and must be managed accordingly. Wrapping should be used when securing goods together if they consist of separate parts, to prevent the load from unravelling while being lifted.

The golden rule of soft sling lifting is that overloading should be avoided and the slings maximum load capacity should never be exceeded regardless of how much time you think it will save.

 

 

Construction Safety Update: Welding

Source : Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Welding is common on every construction site and so welding safety should feature on the safety management agenda. The most important consideration for welding work is that welders be suitably trained and experienced for the work they are to perform, in order to minimize the risks and hazards involved.

If workers who are not suitably competent to conduct welding work, are instructed by superiors to do so, the business will be held responsible for any incidents that may occur and will most likely receive a fine. So before allowing workers to engage in this potentially dangerous task consider whether the person is qualified and in possession of a certificate. The workers should be able to demonstrate recent experience and competence.

The next consideration would be to ensure that personal protective equipment and clothing be provided for the worker engaged in welding. Some of the PPE required includes a helmet with a filtered lens, fire resistant gloves, a leather apron, boots and leather spats. It is important that PPE be maintained and cleaned regularly to ensure its effectiveness.

A risk assessment of the process of welding on the site should be carried out and if the process is absolutely necessary then a safety plan will ensure it is safely carried out. The hazards involved with welding on a construction site include:

  • The arc which reaches very high temperatures (approximately 6000 degrees Celsius) is very hot and presents a hazard. The rays emitted by the welding, both ultraviolet and infra-red can be dangerous to those around it. Welders not wearing overalls can sustain injuries similar to extreme sunburn.
  • The fumes can also be dangerous. When conducted in an open air environment, the fumes may be released safely into the air without causing harm. The biggest hazard is presented by welding in a confined space. Welding in a confined area, or a space without proper ventilation can cause the worker to suffocate and precautions should be taken, such as wearing a respirator or maintaining good ventilation in the space.
  • Another hazard is presented by the combination of heat and gas which can be volatile. Welding can cause explosions so the material being welded should be assessed to ensure that it will not explode. For example a drum or container that previously contained toxic fumes can explode when welding takes place. Ensure that heating does not liberate toxic fumes, causing an explosion.
  • Also a welded surface will be extremely hot. So it should not be touched by the person engaged in welding and others that may be on the site as it can cause a burn.
  • The greatest danger to the welder is presented by the electrical circuit. Welders should never attempt to connect or chance welding cables before switching its off at the mains first.  Welders should ensure they install the welding machine as near as possible to the power point and only use welding cables that are insulated completely.

Welders should also wear rubber soled shoes and dry gloves when handling equipment that is live. Electrical repairs to the welding machine should be done by an electrician and not by the welder.

When engaged in gas welding, ensure that the gas is not leaking. Leaking gas can be extremely dangerous. Leaking oxygen makes the atmosphere more oxygen rich which can be dangerous if someone lights a cigarette or a spark ignites.

Also welders shouldn’t smoke when welding and those in the vicinity also shouldn’t smoke or keep a lighter on them as it could explode.

As long as welders are operating safely and not cutting corners to save time, welding need not be a dangerous activity.

 

Article Posts for Week Ending September 28,2012

Here is a list of the articles posted on our blog this last week:

Building Site Apprentice critical after worksite fall

How to recognise Bullying in the Workplace

Preventing Nail Gun Injuries in Construction

Fire Hazards on Construction Sites

Freak Crane Accident Leaves Construction Worker Critical

Workers That Need Supervision on Construction Sites

 

How to Identify Safety Hazards in Construction – For small business owners

White Card Training is your first step towards a career in the construction industry. For those wanting to pursue a career in this exciting and challenging industry safety training is not only a legal requirement but also an important tool to help you overcome the many dangers present on construction and building sites.

Once workers have received the site specific training as well as the general construction induction training, the first thing employers should do is identify the hazards on site. Hazards may be common to the construction industry or unique to your specific site. Consult workers when identifying these hazards because some hazards may only be known to those workers involved in the specific task. You can also go through injury records to identify the most common risks.

Now after you’ve made your list of possible hazards you can begin to assess the risk and determine its seriousness, this will allow you to concentrate on the most serious ones first.

Once identified, you can begin to discuss ways of removing the hazard altogether. If it is not possible to eliminate the risk, look for ways to minimise it.

Some of the ways risks can be minimised is changing work procedures, using protective equipment to perform tasks, conduct less risky tasks etc.

Make sure all workers are aware of these safe work procedures and provide a written copy on site that workers can access whenever needed.

 

Red Card Victoria: How to Avoid Safety Hazards on Building Sites

(Photo: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The Red Card Victoria has now been replaced with a more convenient, national “White Card” which is essential for acceptance on any construction site in Oz. The “Work Safely in the Construction Industry “course is aimed at equipping all workers in the building industry with the knowledge and skill to overcome potentially life threatening situations on site.

While the easy to follow course provides a detailed teaching on the many dangers that may present themselves on site, there are a few basic hazards that are common to a lot of construction sites that are worth a special mention.

Before proceeding with any work on a construction site the contractor or employer should investigate the potential hazards in order to know what they must overcome. Some of these hazards may include overhead power lines, unstable ground, hazardous material, work from heights etc. These hazards may be common to all construction sites or unique to the site.

For example some sites where renovation is being undertaken, there may be a contamination of asbestos or there may be a need to work with cranes and over-head power lines may present a hazard. Whatever the safety issue may be, construction safety training will teach workers how to react in these situations in order to avoid tragedy.

Another way to remain safe is to continuously assess tools and equipment and evaluate whether they may present a hazard from day to day. Wear and tear on equipment can make them less effective and even dangerous. For example electric tools and cords should be examined for exposed wires and they should not emit any sparks when in operation. Do not use a tool or equipment that feels unsafe or does not seem to be working properly. If tools or equipment are not working properly it should be reported immediately.  Workers should be properly trained on equipment and tool use before they are given these objects to work with.

Another requirement on a construction site is the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Not only do employers have to provide PPE to workers and train them on its use, they also need to ensure PPE are in good order. The white card induction training incorporates PPE and its effective use in various threatening construction situations.  Some of the PPE that are general to construction sites are hard hats, safety glasses, dust masks, gloves, ear plugs and the proper clothing like thick-soled construction boots. For night work or work in the dark, the correct luminous clothing should be worn. Workers have the responsibility to stick to safety procedures as outlined by their employer’s health and safety policies, including when, where and how to use PPE effectively.

Another common hazard on construction sites are working from heights. Work from ladders, roofs, scaffolds all present a risk which needs to be managed for example by using the proper fall protection. The white card course will outline all you need to know about falling on site in general and the site specific training you receive from your employer will explain the exact hazards you will be exposed to on the site. Workers have a responsibility to adhere to both the lessons taught by the general white card course (which replaced the Red card) as well as the site specific lessons learned.

The most important requirement on all building sites is that all workers are sufficiently trained. Both site specific and general construction induction training is required for every worker. The good news is that workers can now obtain their general construction site training online, which makes it both easy and convenient. It can be done from the privacy of your home or office and is valid nationally. This is a pre requisite to entrance as a worker on any construction site in Australia and has replaced the old Red Card Victoria for this purpose.

 

Biggest Safety Hazards in Construction work

(Photo: njaj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

There are some hazards that are more common to construction workers than others and some that claim dozens of lives each year. In this post we will look at some of them and how they can be overcome with a bit of planning and dedication to safety on site.

The first step in combatting the inevitable hazards on site is to consider the hazards and the risk they pose to workers. Once it has been established what the risks are then it is possible to identify solutions and implement them.

Almost daily we hear of some or the other construction workers being injured on site and in extreme cases we even hear of their deaths. Workers are faced with these hazards each day and need to be aware of the most common ones and how they cause injuries so that they can avoid becoming a statistic.

The most common cause of death on construction sites is from falling. Working from a height is a dangerous task and should only be undertaken if absolutely necessary. If the risk cannot be eliminated they must be controlled and managed to prevent worker injury. The most basic protection against falls includes, wearing the appropriate PPE and using personal fall arrest equipment. Use of a safety harness can save a worker from death in the event of a fall but only if it is correctly used and properly anchored. Employers and contractors should install and maintain perimeter protection. Workers whose job tasks do not require working from a height should not do so. Also any openings in the floor should be covered and clearly labelled so that workers are aware of it. Ladder and scaffolding safety is also important and workers should be trained on how to safely make use of them.

Another common hazard that occurs in construction is objects falling from a height and hitting workers, sometimes even crushing them. Not long ago a worker’s skull was crushed when an excavator bucket fell onto him from above. Wearing a hard hat is important to protect your head from this and many other hazards. Good housekeeping will also ensure tools, debris and other equipment do not fall and injure workers below.

The second most common cause of death on a construction site is workers being hit by moving vehicles or machinery and sometimes being crushed. Workers should never position themselves between moving and fixed objects as they may be caught in-between the two and crushed. Workers must be provided with and trained on the correct use of high-visibility clothing to worn near equipment and vehicles. The site planners should attempt to separate pedestrians from the hazard of moving vehicles and equipment and if that is not possible only workers whose skills are necessary in the area should be allowed access. Designated pedestrian and separate vehicle paths should be established and maintained. Training of drivers and operators of machinery is vital in this regard. It is also important that inexperienced workers be supervised until they are capable of avoiding an incident.

Workers also often become injured when they are caught in a trench or excavation.  Workers should never enter an unprotected trench or excavation 5 feet or deeper without the appropriate protective system in place.  Sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems are important because trenches are notoriously unstable and may cave in at any time. Weather conditions such as heavy rain may cause instability of the ground and precautions should be taken in these instances.

The final hazard that we will discuss is the possibility of electrocution in construction. Not only are electricians at risk but ordinary construction workers may also be at risk from exposed wires etc. In order to prevent being electrocuted workers should locate and identify electrical components beforehand, especially when undertaking renovation work. When operating heavy machinery and cranes check for overhead power lines before you begin working and maintain a safe distance from them. When working with electrical tools ensure they are grounded and double insulated to avoid being electrocuted.  Also be extra cautious when working from a ladder or scaffold.

Being more aware of your work environment and cautious will safeguard you from injuring other workers by your actions and ensure that you too return home safely at the end of the day.

 

Working Safely on Construction sites in the Dark


(Photo: Sailom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Most construction workers are accustomed to working on a busy construction site and often working overtime to meet strict deadlines. This sometimes involves shift work and workers often have to work at night. Working at night or in the dark presents a potential hazard to construction workers and is quite different from working in daylight. Some construction sites are naturally dark, even during the day and so certain safety guidelines should be followed in order to maintain safety.

Working on a construction site at night means most often workers are fatigued and the lack of light creates blind spots where workers cannot see.These are the two greatest risks presented.

Overcoming fatigue is often difficult when workers move from a day shift to a night shift. The body’s internal clock is disrupted and this causes you to become fatigued at work, thereby jeopardising your ability to safety work. Sleeping during the day when not on shift is vital to remaining alert at night. Workers should try sleeping in a silent, dark room with no sunlight during the day. Also sleep the same amount of hours as you would at night.

Working in the absence of light, means workers chances of having accidents are increased. This can be overcome by providing appropriate lighting on site and having signage that is brightly lit and visible wherever hazards are present to warn workers.

Employers can also reduce incidents by implementing traffic control and having an awareness of what is located at the site, through training and signage.

The safety plan of the site should include an analysis of potential hazards on site arising from working in the dark. Planning ahead means taking into consideration all the possible dangers that could arise that could harm workers including taking note of blind spots, tripping or falling hazards and dangerous equipment.

Ensure warning signs are well maintained, illuminated and visible at all times. They should also be appropriately positioned to warn of hazards.

Workers operating heavy machinery and equipment may not be able to see behind the vehicle in the dark, these blind spots present a hazard. Employers should try to ensure the equipment on site comes with rear vision video systems or object detection systems that alert the operator to obstacles or people when reversing.

Ensure that the site has all the necessary lighting to work safely at night, including equipment mounted lights, hard hat lights, lights mounted on poles or cranes and spot lights on particular work areas. Fluorescent vests should be worn by workers to make them visible to other workers and machine operators.

Keep workers and equipment separated and ensure heavy machinery remains in specially demarcated zones.  Identify the safest routes for workers to drive equipment through and put up signs to indicate high traffic areas. As a worker, be alert and on the lookout for moving vehicles and equipment. Each night a worker should be assigned as a spotter for heavy machinery drivers.

Also workers should be involved in developing the safety protocols for their site. Management and supervisors should consult staff about the dangers they encounter and together establish ways of dealing with them. Review the sites safety plan on a regular basis.

All workers should have received training when beginning work on the site, this means that workers should have been taught how to work safety and effectively in the dark if the job requires. Although working in the dark presents a visibility hazard, by working together, being informed and vigilant and adhering to safety guidelines, workers need not fall victim to accidents that so frequently occur in the dark.

 

Federal Government must Eliminate Asbestos by 2030

(Image source : http://www.actu.org.au/Images/Dynamic/attachments/7727/ACTU%20Asbestos%20Report%20Final-Auspoll.pdf )

Auspoll, a survey recently commissioned by the ACTU has revealed that most Australians want the government to implement measures to have asbestos completely removed from all homes and public buildings by 2030.

Auspoll, as the survey was named, indicated that the majority of Australians (around two thirds) are still concerned about the effects of asbestos and the health risks it poses, regardless of its nation-wide ban a decade ago.

Last month the national inquiry into the removal of asbestos report was released. According to the report, government should aim to have asbestos completely removed from public and commercial buildings within the next 18 years. The inquiry also suggests the establishment of an audit into the presence of asbestos in residential buildings erected prior to 1987.

According to statistics around 500 Australians die each year from Mesothelioma, which is why citizens remain so concerned about the presence of asbestos in houses and buildings. According to ACTU president,Ged Kearney the poll, consisting of 1022 people showed ‘deep public concern’ about theissue, hence the 2030 target.

Asbestos has been used in thousands of materials and products throughout Australia for decades and has historically been used in places that were likely to experience intense exposure to the elements, which would degrade and deteriorate the product.So asbestos was used to give the product strength and longevity.  As the material deteriorates asbestos fibres are released into the air, which can have extremely harmful effects on the health of the human beings who inhale it, especially over time.

Although asbestos was banned, there are a number of buildings and homes that are still laced with asbestos through asbestos containing building materials which is now deteriorating and posing a potential threat. With Australia’s high rate of asbestos consumption, members of the public are understandably concerned.

It is thought that over one million homes have asbestos containing material, that’s almost a third of every domestic dwelling built prior to 1982, as well as hospitals, offices and schools. It is affecting the entire nation.

The majority of people who participated in the poll agreed that asbestos remains a huge health risk in Australia and even more indicated that the presence of the deadly substance would affect their decision to buy a home or not.

According to the poll, around 85% of the public back the recommendation for a national audit to be conducted which would identify remnant asbestos across Oz and about 90% advocated a national program for its removal.

Another recommendation made by the poll participants was for property sellers to have to provide certification that a property is asbestos free before selling it and even admitted their willingness to pay more for a property if the asbestos was removed by the previous owner.

A national asbestos summit is to be held in Sydney from the 4th of September to discuss how to handle the problem of asbestos. The unions will use the summit to discuss their plans for the removal of asbestos.

To read more about the ACTU Poll, visit http://www.actu.org.au/Images/Dynamic/attachments/7727/ACTU%20Asbestos%20Report%20Final-Auspoll.pdf