Ladder Inspections and Checklists for Ladder Safety

Ladders are one of the most common tools used both at home and professionally. Yet, there are still thousands of ladder accidents every year. Ensure ladder safety through regular inspections and by following approved safety guidelines. There’s more to it than you may know. So, where should you begin?

Ladder Safety Checklist

There are some universal basic points you should go over when you are inspecting your ladder before use. Keep this checklist handy so you don’t forget any of the steps. These points of simple observation could save you from a dangerous fall.

  •   Read the stickers. The manufacturer tag will contain important information like the duty rating, maximum working length, and year of manufacture.
  •   Look at the feet of your ladder. Are they level and on stable ground?
  •   Check for damage on the side rails and all of the steps. Look for rust, corrosion, dents, or debris. Substances like mud or oil could cause a slip.
  •   Fasten everything securely before climbing. Make sure rung locks and spreader bars are in place and engaged.
  •   Use the 4-1 rule for placement. Every 4 ft of height requires one foot of distance from the vertical surface.

If you discover any problems after going through the checklist, do not use the ladder without addressing the issue. For example, wipe off any mud or move the ladder to stabilize the feet. Place as many times as you need to before going up.

Guidelines for Inspecting Ladders

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets national workplace safety standards. They recommend inspecting a ladder before each use. At the minimum, a ladder should be inspected before every shift.

You should document every ladder inspection you complete. You can track the health of your ladder, ensure compliance with safety guidelines, and be prepared in the event of an accident. There are device applications and templates available for such documentation.

Defective Ladders

If you find a ladder to be defective, do not use it. Assess the damage and ascertain whether it is repairable. Once you have fixed it to the best of your ability, redo the inspection to make sure it is ready to go.

If repairs are not possible, the ladder is no longer usable. Remove the ladder from the workplace and dispose of it properly. 

Ladder Safety Education

It is vital to keep your team trained on ladder safety so that everybody is using ladders responsibly each time. Give them the tools for success and keep your workplace safe. If everybody knows what the best practice is, they can help keep each other accountable, as well.

Ladder safety is nothing to skimp on, so bring in the experts if you’re new to these standards. Whether you have a ladder for cleaning your gutters or run a team of employees who use ladders on the job, the right training is key. Contact Construction Safety Experts at (919) 463-0669 so we can provide you with comprehensive training and help your team prevent accidents.

Construction Safety Helmets vs. Hard Hats: A New Approach

For many people across the country, a hard hat is the most recognized symbol for construction workers. Putting on a hard hat is universal for entering a construction zone, whether as a tradesman or as a visitor. The safety yellow hard hat is iconic.

Now technology may make the hard hat obsolete. The latest upgrade for workers is a move toward safety helmets. However, this new approach may be facing some resistance.

The Hard Hat

World War I introduced America to the safety features of wearing protective headgear. In 1919, after returning from the war, Lt. Edward W. Bullard saw the opportunity to develop a safety hat for peacetime workers at home.

Bullard constructed the original hard hat with leather and canvas and revolutionized the safety industry. First adopted by miners, hard hats quickly spread to other industries. By 1952, fabrication switched to plastic. Since the early 2000s, all hard hat compositions have been strictly polyethylene.

The Safety Helmet

Meanwhile, safety helmets were being developed for other activities. By the early 1970’s bicyclists realized that the major cause of fatal accidents was head injuries. They began to look for helmets for safety.

Their innovations led to adding EPS foam liners to more traditional helmets for added impact protection. As years went by, inventors added venting and outer shells, and the use of these helmets expanded to other sports like skiing and rock climbing. Today sports helmets are ubiquitous.

The Construction Safety Helmet

The new construction safety helmets offer more protection than traditional hard hats. They combine the technology of both hard hats and sports helmets. Since weight is not a consideration as it is in sports, construction helmets pair a sturdy outer shell with a foam insert to offer superior protection.

Safety helmets not only shield workers from falling objects but also offer increased protection from impacts to the back and side of the head. The addition of secure chinstraps increases safety during falls by keeping helmets in place.

Pros and Cons of the New Construction Safety Helmets

Each new technology has its pros and cons, and construction safety helmets are no exception.

Pros of Construction Safety Helmets:

  • They provide increased safety, particularly from side and back impacts
  • Using the chinstrap ensures they will not fall off during a fall
  • They can be effective for up to 10 years

Cons of Construction Safety Helmets:

  • They may be heavier than a traditional hard hat
  • They can be expensive, with average models costing more than $125
  • The cultural shift away from the iconic hard hat may be difficult 

The Biggest Challenge

While the protection offered by a construction safety helmet is clearly superior, the biggest challenge to widespread adoption appears to be the reluctance of the industry to relinquish the iconic image of the safety yellow hard hat. It is proving difficult to change our collective image of the quintessential construction professional, complete with a hard hat.

As more and more safety helmets appear on job sites, and more workers are better protected, the shift to construction safety helmets will happen. In the meantime, job sites may see a mix of both hard hats and safety helmets as workers, and society, make the shift. Lead the way into the future by being an early adopter and switch yourself and your crew to construction safety helmets today. 

Contact us online or call our experts directly at (919) 463-0669 for more information on safety helmets! 

 

Workplace Safety: Hearing Protection

Every company’s goal should be to create a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. One way to do that is to provide hearing protection. Here is why it is essential and the types available.

Why Is It Important to Wear Hearing Protection?

First, here are some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] regarding workplace hearing loss.

  •   Hearing loss is one of the most common illnesses on the job.
  •   Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to dangerous noise yearly.
  •   Occupational hearing loss is preventable.

What is “dangerous noise”? According to OSHA, any sound over 85 decibels requires hearing protection to avoid hearing loss. To better understand how loud that would be, here are examples of everyday sounds.

  •   Whisper – 30 dB
  •   Normal conversation – 60 dB
  •   Lawnmower – 80-85 dB
  •   Motorcycle – 95 dB
  •   Shouting or barking in the ear – 110 dB
  •   Firecracker – 140-150 dB

Any noise over 120 dB can cause immediate damage to your hearing. Once hearing loss has occurred, it does not come back. Even if the sound isn’t that loud, prolonged noise exposure can still cause problems, so it is crucial to wear hearing protection in the workplace.

What Types of Hearing Protection Are Available?

There are several choices when considering hearing protection. Choose one that is comfortable to wear and protects you from noise. Here are some common ones.

Expandable Earplugs

You can find this type of foam earplug in grocery stores and drugstores. This earplug style is easy to insert. Roll the earplug between your fingers until it is thin. Pull the top of your ear up and back to insert it into your ear canal. Then, hold the earplug in place until it expands. When sound is muffled, you have a good fit.

Pre-molded Earplugs

These earplugs are also inserted into your ear canal, but they are already shaped. Depending on the size of your ear, these might not be as comfortable as the moldable type. Another option is to have an audiologist make you custom-molded earplugs.

Earmuffs

Earmuffs have two hard cups with soft cushions on top held together with a headband. They completely cover your ears and are good at blocking out damaging sound. This is a good option if you do not like the feel of the earplugs.

Should Hearing Protection Be In Your Safety Plan?

Every business should have a safety plan that includes hearing protection. Contact Construction Safety Experts online or call us at (919) 463-0669 to create a customized safety program for your business.

 

The Significance of Ex Mod for Your Safety Program

Your company’s Experience Modification or Ex Mod affects the rates the company will have to pay for Workers Compensation insurance. If you’re a safety professional, Ex Mod also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of what you do.

Know What Safety Is Worth

Ex Mod is the ratio of actual workers compensation losses your company has experienced versus the losses that your company would be expected to have. If it’s higher than normal, insurance rates can be increased by additional surcharges. If it’s lower, they can be reduced by credits that offset some of the company’s premiums. The calculation takes several factors into account, but the main ones are the amount, frequency and severity of workers compensation claims. Since the number of significant incidents affects your company’s Ex Mod, your efforts to increase safety can also affect it. The things you do every day can reduce your company’s workers compensation claims and improve your Ex Mod for years to come. This is powerful proof of the financial benefit of strong safety procedures.

Show What Safety Is Worth

Your company’s management would love to reduce their insurance costs. Reducing the Ex Mod is a concrete way to do that. Since the frequency and seriousness of workplace incidents is a major contributor to Ex Mod, your role as a safety specialist lets you make a clear impact on costs. Communicating this to corporate leadership can enhance your standing and advance your career. Accurately track reductions in incidents, and show how they are related to improved safety procedures and training. By doing so, you can demonstrate how your job contributes to the company’s success.

Persuade Management to Boost Safety and Savings

One way to improve your Ex Mod is to prevent incidents, but another way is to limit the seriousness of the incidents that do occur. While you can’t eliminate all risk, there may be some measures you can take to reduce the severity of the incident and thus the overall size of the workers comp claim. Some of these options will require spending money, and all will require support from management.  This could be as simple as developing a policy to be more proactive in dealing with even minor injuries. It could also entail more substantial commitments, like investing in specialized safety training or implementing solutions that make it easier to oversee the progress of existing workers comp claims. The good news is that the clear link between Ex Mod and insurance costs can make it easier for you to make the case that improved safety is worth the investment.

For more information on better safety procedures and training that could improve your safety program while bringing down insurance costs, contact Construction Safety Experts online, or call (919) 463-0669 today!

Topics You Should Be Addressing in Safety Meetings

In every construction project, safety is paramount. Meetings discussing precautionary measures and accident prevention policies can play an important role in keeping workers safe. Here are some key topics to address in meetings.

OSHA Rules

The first safety meeting on a project should include a thorough primer on applicable OSHA regulations. It is advisable to revisit the topic of compliance at subsequent meetings. It is a good practice to include practical on-the-job examples of what people need to do to comply with regulatory safety standards when carrying out certain tasks.

Electrical Safety

Workers need to be able to recognize electrical hazards on a jobsite. Generators used to power equipment and the possibility of coming into contact with live lines could present a risk of catastrophic or fatal injury. During meetings, it may make sense to do a walkthrough of a site to identify specific hazards and give workers explicit instructions on how to avoid injuries.

Personal Protective Equipment

Contracting companies have to establish internal policies about the use of personal protective equipment. Workers should not need to make on-the-spot decisions about whether they need to use a particular item of PPE for a specific task. Instead, company policies mandating the use of PPE for completing various duties or walking through designated areas should eliminate decision-making concerning safety gear.

Beyond simply creating PPE policies, it is vital that contracting companies implement protocols for enforcing them. Project managers and foremen need to lead by example and use appropriate equipment consistently. These team leaders need to intervene when they observe that workers are not following mandates.

First-Aid Resources

Everyone on a site has to know where emergency first aid equipment is located. It is also advisable to go over what items a kit includes. A project manager should assign responsibility to a senior staff member for ensuring that kits are in correct locations and contain all essential items.

Situational Awareness

When talking to workers about safety, it is crucial to review the potential dangers of distraction on a jobsite. Workers have to be alert to their surroundings when they are in an area where heavy equipment is in use and structures in progress are unstable. Talk to workers about the possible ramifications of seemingly harmless horseplay in addition to the safety risks of cellphones on an active site.

Fall Prevention

Completing any type of work at a height puts workers at risk of falling. Even highly experienced workers are vulnerable to this especially common occupational injury. Make sure that your meeting topic includes scaffolding safety basics.

Show your workers that their safety is your priority by providing comprehensive training in project meetings. Get in touch with the safety professionals at Construction Safety Experts online or by calling us at (919) 463-0669, for help creating a training initiative that effectively mitigates risk and empowers workers to be more vigilant about their own safety.

Recognize and Resolve Hazardous Situations Faster

When it comes to safety at a construction site, most people agree with the old cliche. Prevention is better than cure. This requires recognizing potential hazards as quickly as possible before it claims casualties or human lives. For many companies, this is often easier said than done. Smaller companies, especially, have developed a bad rep for high rates of safety issues. So, how can companies of all sizes create safer construction sites?

1. Review Company Practices

Does your company have an established process for handling hazards? Are worksite supervisors and project managers following these processes when workers or passersby notice potential hazards? Here are some important steps to take while reviewing the process:

  • Estimate how often you complete hazard management activities.
  • Identify the potential victims of hazards and create a response plan for each group.
  • Determine the best frequency for routine inspections and who should complete them.

2. Encourage Hazard Reporting

Do you know one of the top reasons workers choose not to report hazards, even when they see them? Management doesn’t listen and doesn’t do anything about it. In some cases, workers fear losing their jobs.

Encourage workers to report all hazards they encounter, even when they’re not sure it’s a problem. Treat each report seriously and follow up with workers to let them know you investigated. Involve workers as often as possible in the resolution process to increase buy-in and compliance.

3. Investigate Hazard Sources

Is there a specific incident that reoccurs on your construction sites? Do workers seem to get injured in a particular area or while carrying out a specific task? Get to the root of the problem by observing the process and talking to the people involved. Reassure them that the goal is not to punish them but to investigate and resolve the hazard.

4. Document All Safety Issues

Most companies only document accidents when they occur. However, you should also document reported hazards and how appointed persons resolved the issue. Showing a consistent commitment to safety can protect the company should allegations of negligence arise. However, if there is negligence, this paperwork can also point you to the people who dropped the ball.

5. Leverage Technology

Whenever possible, rely on technology to assist you. Site inspectors can use digitized checklists on tablets or even on their phones. Workers can submit photos and descriptions of hazards via apps or even basic email. Technology also makes it easier to collect and analyze data, so you can continue to make safety improvements at your worksite.

Trust The Safety Experts

At Construction Safety Experts, we work with companies to provide construction safety training. We also provide on-site safety professionals who can ensure the continued safety of your workers and reduce the risk of accidents and liabilities.

Contact us online or call (919) 463-0669  today to discuss your options and get a free quote!

What Happens During and After a Construction Site Accident Investigation?

Construction work is inherently hazardous, and accidents occur in and around sites all the time. To minimize the number of injuries, state and federal governments have introduced safety guidelines.

However, accidents happen, and once the injured person has been treated, an investigation is conducted in an effort to prevent future injuries.

Here is an overview of what to expect when a site accident investigation is needed. 

Steps in the Investigation Process

The first step in the investigation is to secure the area and call the designated investigator. What follows next is:

  • If the injured person is able, speak with him or her, as well as any potential witnesses.
  • Use notes, photos, videos or some combination of each to document the scene.
  • Create your report, listing the determining cause.
  • Make recommendations for preventive measures.

Once the report is complete and recommendations are put into action, the final step is to follow up and ensure they remain in action.

Things You Will Find in the Investigation Report

First, anyone involved in the accident, including witnesses, and the investigation team will be named. The investigator is typically the supervisor on duty at the time of the accident, but safety experts may be called in as well.

Second, every object on the scene is thoroughly investigated and included. This means any equipment or piece of property within the near vicinity of the accident is evaluated and documented in detail.

The pertinent information to collect is situational and therefore, varies; however, here are a few characteristics about the accident you may find:

  • Details about the injury, including where the body was injured and to what severity.
  • Details about the actions that led to the accident.
  • A narrative of the accident compiled from witness testimony.
  • Timestamps, including the worker’s shift information and whether or not he or she was supervised at the time.
  • A description of the worker, physical and tenure in the company.

Attention to detail is crucial during documentation and will be reflected in the final report.

The Final Steps

The last phase of an accident investigation is determining the cause and documenting corrective actions. Causal factors are meant to be thorough and descriptive. If the employee did not follow safety procedures, the report should detail why not.

If he or she was following the procedure, what element of it contributed to the accident? This evaluation leads to corrective action, which can entail anything from new training methods to the elimination of the procedure entirely. Every corrective measure should have a supervisor assigned to ensure its implementation.

Keep an investigation kit on-site at all times, and include everything you might need in the event of an accident.

Want To Ensure A Safe Work Site? Hire The Experts. 

When it comes to workplace safety – especially on a construction site, it’s best to not take any chances. Hiring a safety expert consulting company will get you and your team to where they need to be.

For more information on best practices to keep your team safe on the site, contact Construction Safety Experts online, or call us directly at (919) 463-0669 today! 

7 Construction Site Strategies for Disaster Preparedness

Being ready to handle a sudden emergency such as a natural disaster or severe weather event is essential for effective risk management in the construction industry.

In fact, contracting companies need well thought out policies aimed at maintaining safety on active job sites in an emergency situation. Here are seven highly effective strategies from construction experts who do site safety right. 

1. Create a Site-Specific Emergency Plan

Even projects with a relatively small scope of work should have an emergency preparedness plan in place before work begins. The plan should be like the playbook for what needs to happen, so that people don’t have to make on-the-spot decisions when an emergency is developing or already underway.

2. Identify What Events Will Halt Work 

Uncertainty about whether it is necessary to implement an emergency action plan could delay crucial safety measures significantly. Also, it’s important that clients be clear about when work cannot proceed to avert contractual disputes. Make sure that agreements stipulate when it is necessary to suspend work due to an emergency.

3. Train Workers 

Your team needs thorough training on how to handle emergency conditions. Even highly experienced workers may benefit. 

4. Be Aware of Cranes’ Wind Ratings

Sites that utilize cranes have to prioritize emergency protocols. Project managers and crane operators may have to work quickly in order to disassemble or reinforce a crane. It is imperative to be absolutely certain of a crane’s wind rating so that the team responsible for managing a crane will know when it must spring into action.

5. Have a Way to Secure Materials Ready to Go

A comprehensive emergency plan should have a procedure for securing any loose building materials onsite. This may require using reinforced containers, tying materials down with straps or temporarily relocating certain items.

6. Remove Hazards

A jobsite could contain numerous hazards that could pose a serious fire threat if left unattended during an active emergency. Project managers and safety supervisors need to evaluate how to move items that cannot be safely secured such as fuel containers or combustible materials.

7. Assure That Sites Are Safe for Re-entry

Before crews attempt to resume work, safety managers have to verify that a jobsite is safe. They may need to test unfinished structures for stability or inspect whether there is a risk of falling debris.

The Value of Experience 

Being proactive about emergencies can prevent serious injury and protect you against unnecessary losses.

Contact Construction Safety Experts for help to create and utilize strategic emergency preparedness initiatives at your next jobsite. One of our knowledgeable representatives can give you information about customized consulting and training – Call (919) 463-0669 today!   

Recognizing Signs of Heat Exhaustion On The Construction Job Site

For outdoor workers in the construction industry, the warm months can be the most challenging times of the year. High temperatures and increased humidity can make the environment unbearable if an employee is not hydrated or protected from the sun.

Heat exhaustion is one of the most common medical conditions for supervisors and workers on a construction crew, and prevention is the best weapon you can have against it. However, that’s not always possible. Here are some tips for both recognizing and preventing heat exhaustion.

The Types of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by lack of water and salt in the body and occurs when people are heavily sweating in conditions of extreme heat, without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Heat exhaustion covers a broad range of medical conditions, but the three most common are:

  • Heat Cramps: After prolonged exposure to the heat and sun, you can develop excruciating pain in your legs, arms or lower back. Heat cramps are muscle spasms that can last for several minutes if you’re not immediately hydrated and allowed to rest. 
  • Heat Rash: An irritating rash can develop when your skin’s sweat ducts become clogged and trap perspiration under your sin. Heat rash can cause an itching or stinging sensation and red bumps to form.
  • Heatstroke: The most severe and deadly type of heat exhaustion is heatstroke. It occurs more often to workers exposed to the sun for long periods without rest. Symptoms include a fever over 104°F, a lack of sweat and hot, dry skin. Heatstroke can cause organ failure or death if you’re unable to get cool and seek shelter.

The Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a terrifying condition that affects thousands of outdoor workers every year, but it’s preventable. Workers and supervisors should be on the lookout for any of these signs of exhaustion:

  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weak pulse
  • Moist, cool skin
  • Fatigue

Some workers may not feel symptoms for several hours, while others may exhibit signs all at once in a brief period.

The Treatment for Heat Exhaustion

If you notice signs of exhaustion from a coworker, OSHA recommends that you should immediately move them to an air-conditioned room or sheltered area, and try cooling techniques. Give them cool drinking water, loosen their clothing and lay them down with their legs elevated. Ice and fans can help cool them off quickly if they’re available. Place ice or cold packs on their head, armpits, groin, neck and head. If symptoms do not improve after 60 minutes, call a doctor for professional treatment.

Contact the Safety Experts

When you need premium construction safety training and consulting, you can rely on the expertise of Construction Safety Experts. We offer basic and advanced safety services customized to meet your company’s specific safety needs. Our experienced safety professionals will evaluate your current safety program and provide consultation to enable your organization to achieve the next level of safety.

Contact us online, or call our team directly at (919) 463-0669 today!

How To Repair A Broken Workplace Safety Culture

It should go without saying that in the construction industry, companies need safety to be a fixture in their core mission and values. When the emphasis on safety has devolved, it can have a negative effect on the company’s culture as a whole. And this is not a good thing.

If you feel that your company’s safety culture has been impacted in a negative way, and are not quite sure where to go from here, don’t stress. Our team of safety experts has put together this overview of how you can begin the stages of repairing it. Some calculated adjustments will make it possible to re-instill safety as a primary directive across every tier of a company’s structure. 

Start the Change With Leadership

Managers and supervisors must set the right example for employees. They need to demonstrate thorough compliance with all key initiatives. They must also be prepared to offer one-on-one counseling for personnel who are not following policies on a consistent basis.  

Reevaluate Training

The foundation of a company culture that values safety starts with training. If training is limited to the onboarding process, policies may not have a receptive audience. It is hard for people to appreciate the significance of what they are learning if it does not have a practical context. 

Continuing training about accident prevention and avoiding hazards throughout the course of people’s employment will give meaning to what they learn. Employees will have regular reminders about why policies are indispensable. Also, they will have the background to form thoughtful and important questions about their individual responsibilities. Likewise, they can share their input about how policies work in practice and what companies can do to improve them.

Facilitate Communication

Employees need to feel as though their feedback about procedures is both welcome and valuable. Every aspect of maintaining a safe workplace rests on employee engagement in the process. Their voices should be prominent in meetings and training. In addition, there have to be reporting systems in place that employees can use to call attention to issues and also document incidents. People have to know exactly who they should reach out to when they have any questions or concerns.

Insist on Accountability

Everyone on a team must be clear about who is responsible for specific issues. To some extent, a problem with safety is everyone’s problem. However, there should never be any confusion about who has to maintain preventative safeguards or remediate hazards. Every individual employee’s job description needs to clearly outline what people must do in their job roles to reinforce a safe and productive working environment.

In Need of Safety Culture Repair? Work With The Best! 

Every type of business enterprise can benefit from the insight and experience of consultants who can offer customized solutions to make workplaces safer. Consulting services from Construction Safety Experts can help your company devise a plan to rebuild and sustain a company culture that emphasizes safety.

Contact us online or call our team directly at (919) 463-0669 today!