It’s summer, the perfect time to get some of that outdoor work done. Maybe you’ve been planning a do-it-yourself project or you’re hiring an expert crew for something big. Once the design is done and the tools and supplies are in place, there’s one more necessary step before work can begin. Safety.
Accident prevention should be as much of your project as finishing the work on time and to your quality specifications. The best attitude to take is that no job is completed successfully if someone is injured during the process.
Some safety basics apply to every work site, no matter who is on the job. If those protections aren’t in place before construction starts, people can be hurt or even killed, not to mention the costs of having to fix a dangerous error. Try these ideas for the next time you get out the tools and get to work on that deck, new house frame, or remodel.
First, take a few minutes to plan. Many accidents occur because we aren’t prepared and decide to take the extra risk. People don’t take shortcuts to get hurt, but because they weren’t fully prepared and still decided to finish a job. This is the “it will only take a minute and I won’t get hurt” approach, which often leads to serious accidents.
Start your day by thinking about the work and the potential risks. What work is being completed? Do you have the right people, equipment, and tools for the job? If not, find the right people, and make sure your equipment and tools are the best ones for the work. If you aren’t ready to start the right way, things can go very wrong.
Falls while working off the ground is a leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities each year. If you are working off the ground, make sure to take the proper steps to reduce your fall risk. Ask yourself:
Possibly the most obvious statement but easy to overlook, especially if you’re working on something that’s really simple or can be done quickly. From top to bottom, have gear that protects your body like:
Some of this may seem extreme if you’re just working with wood, screws, and nails. Even if you don’t need a particular piece of safety gear for one project, you might need it for another. If you aren’t wearing something, at least have an idea of where you can find it if it becomes necessary later.
If you go back and read the instruction manual for your lawnmower — if you can find it — it probably recommends that you check over the mower before starting. The manual suggests you check oil and gas levels, make sure the wheels spin freely, and confirm that the blade is firmly attached to the motor, among other things.
That’s a good guideline for any of your tools. Check your blades to make sure they’re sharp before cutting, and that you have guards in place to keep the cut from happening somewhere it shouldn’t. Remove any rough edges that can catch or cause injury.
If you’re on a construction crew, you might be assisting someone else on a task that involves more than one person. Or you could simply be in your backyard at work while your children play in another area. Knowing who’s nearby and what they’re doing while you’re working is fundamental to safety.
Let them know when you’re cutting or using tools. Communicate with them about what you’re doing so they know what to do if you get hurt or something goes wrong.
Even with all the safety gear, proper preparation, and awareness in the world, accidents can happen. There needs to be a first aid kit and someone with first aid training available near any project. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists the contents of a basic first aid kit. There’s probably one in your workplace already; your task is to know where it is — before anyone needs it.
You also don’t want to pay for a loss that is caused by work performed by another company. Practical steps can be taken to reduce your risk for a loss that is actually caused by work that is performed by a subcontractor, or a company that works on your premises.
If you are a homeowner, obtain a Certificate of Insurance from subcontractors that are working at your home to verify coverage. If you are a contractor, best practices also include hold harmless agreements, being named as an additional insured, and waivers of subrogation. Contact your agent if you’re planning to work with subcontractors.
What’s the most useful piece of first aid gear in your workplace? What needs to be included in a basic first aid kit?
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