My family has been in the construction business ever since my grandfather immigrated from Italy in the early 1920’s. Having five sons, my grandfather always had an in-house work crew and back-log of work. Not only was he a skilled carpenter, but he was extremely frugal and always looked for ways to save time and money. Unfortunately, his focus on saving time and money failed to include working safely. Eventually this ended up costing him dearly. You see, when my grandfather was in his mid-twenties, he lost his little finger on his left hand using a circular saw with a broken guard. To compound this injury, about 10 years later, he lost his right arm to the elbow as a result of severe laceration, again the result of overlooking his own personal safety.
These accidents ended up costing him much more than he ever expected and made a big impact on me. Every time I visit a manufactured housing installation site, I see professional installers placing their health at risk, just like my grandfather. I hope that this post might prompt you to examine job site safety to reduce the risk of injury for everyone involved in manufactured housing installation. Stay with me as I touch on a few things for you to consider.
First Aid Kit-This is a must at every job site. Make certain that all trucks in your fleet have one, and that they are fully stocked at all times. You can’t predict when an accident might happen!
Eye protection-Over 500,000 job related eye injuries requiring medical attention occur every year. Don’t allow anyone on the job site without proper eye protection. In fact, you should have a few extra pairs of safety glasses or googles in your truck (with your first aid kit) at all times. In general, prescription eyeglasses add some level of protection, add some side shields and you are in great shape! Watch out for workers wearing cheap sunglasses as a projectile can shatter the plastic lens and lead to more injury.
Also, sunglasses are never to be used to protect your eyes during welding, acetylene burning, or cutting work. Sunglass lens are NOT the same as welding or cutting lenses!
Back injuries-Over 1 Million on the job back injuries occur annually. Make sure you and your crew practice proper lifting techniques. Bundles of shingles, boxes of siding, concrete blocks, sheets of plywood or OSB are heavy. Take a few extra minutes to plan ahead to reduce the probability of back injury. Work smart – Not hard!
Fall Protection-OSHA requires personal fall protection for anyone working 6’ or more above the next lower level. That means a properly fitted harness every time you are working on a roof. Visit OSHA.GOV for more information on this.
Suspended Loads-NEVER allow anyone under a suspended load. Cables and straps can break, loads can shift, spreader bars can fail, and rim joists can split. Make sure if the home were to drop, it would be supported by cribbing, and not be on top of you or your crew!
Footwear-There are 1.2 million job related foot injuries per year! In our industry, footwear should have slip/puncture resistant soles and a steel toe. No sneakers on the job site! Actually, once a worker starts wearing work boots, they won’t go back to sneakers! Especially those with time working on a ladder!
Tools-Never use a nail gun without a properly working safety mechanism. Never use a nail gun like a hammer to finish driving in a nail or staple, or as any type of striking tool. Make sure all saws have the proper guards in place, and the work piece is secured and supported to prevent injury. Double check the placement of all jacks and winches (come-alongs). Position yourself so that in the event of a slip, you are in the clear. When using an impact wrench, make sure to use impact sockets, not hand ratchet sockets. Don’t use a screwdriver as a chisel or pry-bar. Only use a tool as intended, I think you get the picture!
Electrical Service-Make certain every tool and cord is powered by a GFCI protected circuit or extension cord!
Immediately replace damaged or frayed cords.
Ladders-I can’t tell you of all of the risks I see being taken with ladders. Make sure you buy high quality (I prefer fiberglass) ladders that are the right size and capacity for the job . Inspect your ladders every day before use, replace worn out ropes on extension ladder pulleys, and steer clear of power lines!!! A ladder standoff is a very valuable tool.
Read the warnings on each ladder and believe them!
Clothing-I am a big fan of work uniforms for several reasons. But the biggest reason is safety. When properly fitted, they provide added protection from many hazards. Plus, you and your crew will look professional and your customers and potential customers will be impressed. Gloves must fit your hands snugly, and shirt tails should be tucked! I know a lot of you think that in the summer, a work uniform would be too hot to wear, but back in the day, my crew wore them and found they were more comfortable wearing work uniforms. And the cleaning service was well worth the price.
Housekeeping-There have been countless injuries because of messy job sites, such as stepping on hidden nails in piles of debris, and tripping and slipping. Not to mention time lost looking for tools, materials, etc. Keep things tidy as you go. You will realize saving in time, money and safety!
Distractions-Everyone knows that distracted driving is a problem, but do we realize that distracted working is just as dangerous? Have you considered having your work crew leave their cell phones in the trucks? I see too many guys on jobs sites paying more attention to their smart phone than their jobs. For their own safety, make them put their phones away.
OK, these are a few things to start the discussion. I would love to hear what you have to say.
We need to practice safety and not learn it by accident.