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Safety is the name of the game in construction. It has been. It will be. And it certainly is today – as it is the focus of this feature.

Do you really know how safe your construction projects are?

Do you know what are the most common hazards on a job that can affect the safety of your craftsmen and overall your bottom line?

You may. You may not.

We do, however, because recently, we set up a “safety walk” on an average, every day job site to see where daily hazards exist.

This video will be educational, it’ll be eye-opening, and hopefully, it will allow you to be proactive the next time you walk on a site to identify common hazards, talk about solutions to those hazards and finally, know how to fix them.

While we all have a “dog in the fight” when it comes to safety – it’s the owners who pony up the cash and the buck stops here.

At large, injuries on construction sites cost more than 200 billion dollars a year in medical bills, workers compensation and the productivity pitfalls associated with work stoppages.

So, saying that safety is big business doesn’t even describe the severity of the situation, or the potential savings.

Jim Dollard, Safety director for IBEW Local 98 in Philadelphia, was gracious enough to let us on a job site near the Delaware River to help owners identify hazards, and more importantly, find solutions to them.

Matthew Walton, Electric TV: Jim, what’s the number one hazard on most construction sites?

Jim Dollard – IBEW Local 98 Safety Director: The number one hazard on a construction site is falls. Today we’re going to look at the methods that we employ to protect you and any employee on a job site from falls. We’ll look at fixed fall protection, personal fall arrest systems, and other methods.

MW: Alright, well let’s get started.

JD: Before we get started we need to get you in a hard hat. Because we’re not just worried about falls, we’re worried about objects falling on you, and you’re required to wear a hard hat. And we’ve also got a pair of safety glasses for you to wear today on your walk through.

MW: You know, I understand the hard hat, but why the safety glasses?

JD: This site requires safety glasses for everybody. OSHA is going to require safety glasses when your task could create a hazard. For example, any tradesman working overhead could get debris in the eye, so that would require safety glasses. On this job site, we wear them all the time.

MW: Sounds good – let’s get started.

Situation #1: Fall Prevention

MW: Jim, I notice all these guard rails – are they required?

JD: Yes, they are required. Fixed fall protection – fall protection is going to be required whenever an employee is subject to a fall of 6 feet or more. We’re standing in an elevator lobby, so we have to provide fall protection. There’s a number of ways that they can get it done. They can platform this whole area out, can provide safety nets – the most popular method is fixed fall protection, which provide a top rail at 42 inches plus or minus 3, we provide a mid rail, and we provide a toe board to protect anybody underneath from objects that may get kicked on this level. When the employee gets on a ladder or scaffold and could be subject to a fall of more than 6 feet, they need personal fall arrest systems.

We can see that right here. Here’s an IBEW member that his task – he’s roughing in – his task is taking him at a level above this fixed fall protection. So what he’s done is he has employed a personal fall arrest system.

MW: Sounds good, let’s keep on walking.

Situation #2: — Footing

MW: Jim, I notice all this wood on the floor. What exactly is this?

JD: These are holes. OSHA requires that we cover holes, and we cover them securely. Slips, trips and falls are one of the biggest reasons for recordable accidents, and it’s going to cost the owner money. OSHA says anything 2 inches or larger in its least dimension is a hole, and it has to be covered, and it has to be secured against displacement. Someone working in this area could step into a hole and be seriously injured if the hole is large enough, it could be a fatality.

MW: So if I’m walking a job site and I see an uncovered hole, that’s a problem.

JD: That’s a problem.

MD: Alright, let’s go take a look at some other things.

Situation #3 – Ladder Safety

MW: Hey Jim, what can you tell me about ladder safety?

JD: Ladder safety is very important on a job site. We’re going to use all types of ladders. This is a 6-foot self-supporting ladder, one of the most popular ladders on the job site. This and an 8-footer you’re going to see all over. As an owner, you’re walking the job, you have to make sure that this ladder is always set up on solid foundation, that it’s closed, and that the employee that’s on the ladder never goes above this rung. This first rung and the top, these can never be used to stand on.

Situation #4 – Electrical Boxes

MW: Jim, these boxes don’t even have covers on them. Isn’t that an obvious safety hazard?

JD: These panel boards are in a de-energized state. We are in an electrically safe work condition. If an owner sees panel boards and other electrical equipment in an open state like this, the owner should always ask, it that equipment energized? Is it hot?

MW: Sounds good. Well Jim, I want to thank you for taking me out on the job site today. I feel safer already.

One thing to remember about this story – by no means did we expose all potential hazards on a jobsite, we just took a quick look at some obvious ones that owners can be on the lookout for.