Tag Archives: Construction Workers

Couldn’t Find A Better Way To Dismantle

Instead of controlled demolition, just place a digger on the top. Slowly but surely the driver dismantles it on his/her way down. Who or What do you blame? (a.) Hazardous Condition, (b.) Unsafe Behavior, (c.) Safety Culture, (d.) Management, (e.) Leadership, (f.) Policy & Regulatory Enforcement, (g.) Necessity to Grow More & More, (h.) ….

Caught-in (or-between) Hazards: What Could Go Wrong?

Caught- in (or –between) hazard in construction causes accidents such as cave-ins during excavation, strangulation as a result of clothing caught in running machinery or being crushed between rolling, sliding, or shifting objects.

Due to caught-in (or -between) hazard, there is also risk of getting pinned between moving equipment and a solid object. Please note that the caught–in (or –between) hazards may sound similar to struck-by hazards mentioned earlier.

Nevertheless, when the impact alone creates the injury, the event is considered as STRUCK. On the other hand, when the injury is created more as a result of crushing injuries between objects, the event is considered as CAUGHT.

In construction sites when machines or power tools are not properly guarded, workers can get their clothing or parts of their body caught in the machines. If machines are not de-energized (locked out) properly during maintenance, they may accidentally start up and catch a worker’s body part or clothing causing serious injury or even death.

You should also look out for Caught-in (or-between) hazards during trenching, scaffolding and building demolition. If one is not watchful enough, unprotected trenches and excavations may create the hazard of cave-ins. Workers who are working underneath large scaffolds may also be buried if the scaffolds collapse. Besides, workers could be buried and crushed by walls that may collapse during demolition works.  

To protect yourself from caught–in (or –between) hazards, moving machinery parts need to be safeguarded properly. Equipment parts such as belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, spindles, drums, fly wheels, chains, or other reciprocating, rotating, or moving parts must be properly guarded, supported and secured at construction sites. Furthermore, make sure to avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that may get caught in such moving parts.

At all times be aware of the equipment or vehicles around you and never place yourself between moving objects and an immovable structure such as wall, vehicle, stacked material, etc.

As a general safety practice, make sure equipment is de-energized and disconnected when not in use, vehicles are tuned off before repair, power sources (such as electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic, etc.) to the equipment are locked out properly before maintenance work begins, etc.

To protect workers on excavation sites, avoid working in an unprotected trench that is deeper than 5 feet. Implement protective systems such as sloping, benching, trench box, shield, shoring, etc. to prevent trench collapse and cave-ins. Enter or exit a trench or excavation only by using a sturdy ladder, stairway or properly designed ramp that is placed within the protected area of the trench. 

Electrocution Hazards: What Could Go Wrong?

An electrical hazard is a serious workplace hazard that exposes workers to Burns (B), Electrocution (E), Shock (S), Arc flash (A), Fire (F), Explosion (E), etc. Therefore, BE-SAFE is the motto for recognizing, avoiding and protecting against all of these electrical hazards in construction sites.

All electrical hazards may not prove to be fatal however, electrocution results when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy.

With the wide use of power tools on construction sites, flexible extension cords are necessary. Since they are often flexible, unsecured and exposed, they are also more susceptible to damage than the fixed wirings. Hazards are created when cords, cord connectors, receptacles, and other connected equipment are improperly used and maintained.

It is not uncommon to find incidents in construction sites where workers came in contact with energized sources resulting in electrical shock and burns.

The severity of an electrical shock depends on a number of factors such as the amount of current, the length of time of the exposure, the pathway through the body, and whether the skin is wet or dry. Electrical burns are among the most serious burns which require immediate medical attention.  

Overhead and buried power lines are especially hazardous because they carry extremely high voltage ranging from 120 to 750,000 volts. Workers in the water, sewer, pipeline, road, communication, power line construction and power distribution industries are highly prone to overhead power line (OHPL) injuries or fatalities.

Too often a desire for work convenience, demand for rush job and a failure to identify immediate OHPL hazard may combine to cause tragic accidents.

Electricity can be quite unforgiving when proper procedures are not followed, therefore, it is essential that workers are informed, trained and reminded of safe practices/procedures around power lines. Maintaining safe distance from the overhead power lines is the best option. Make sure that the equipment and activity (such as cranes and other high reaching equipment) are located within a safe working distance from power lines.

For up to 200kV power lines, the minimum Line Clearance Distance is 15 feet which increases further as the voltage increases. Moreover, the Working Clearance Distance must be further away from the Line Clearance Distance.

It is important to remember that the contact with the OHPL is not necessary to cause injury or death, as arcing can still occur when minimum clearances are not observed. During arcing, workers or equipment can become energized without touching the OHPL directly. If they are working inside the minimum Line Clearance Distance, electricity can arc, or jump across the gap.

Besides, the construction workers must be trained to understand the severe consequences associated with the OHPL hazards, to avoid harm from OHPL and to respond in the event of an incident related to OHPL.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is designed to protect people from severe and sometimes fatal electrical shocks. GFCI detects ground faults and interrupts the flow of electric current by limiting the duration of an electrical shock. Unlike multiple GFCI outlets, one GFCI Circuit Breaker can control and protect an entire circuit. It can also be installed as a replacement for a regular circuit breaker on the main circuit board.

To avoid electric shocks workers need to routinely inspect extension cords and other portable tools for any cuts or abrasion. When the insulation of extension cord is damaged, exposed metal parts in the surrounding may become energized if a live wire inside touches them. Electric hand tools that are old, damaged, or misused may also have damaged insulation inside.

Workers need to know that even when the power system is properly grounded, electrical equipment can instantly change from safe to hazardous because of extreme environmental conditions and rough treatment.

Following lockout/tagout procedure is an essential safety measure to protect workers from being electrocuted while working on or near electrical circuits and equipment. Moreover, the lockout/tagout can also prevent the accidental release of hazardous energy such as gases, fluids, or solid matter during equipment maintenance or repair jobs.