Every home project, remodel, and new build will come with unique dangers. The first step to performing a safe job is to set yourself, your team, everyone and everything in the surrounding area up for success. Take the time to take a good look at the site and take note of potential hazards in the space. There are many ways to perform an assessment, the important thing to note: if your are actively trying to fix unsafe conditions you’re doing it right.
What is a potential hazard?
On the surface level, a hazard is anything that could cause a person to become injured. So at a minimum start looking for physical objects.
- Holes: Anything greater than 2″x2″
- Poking/Snagging/Puncture items: Sticks, re bar, nails, sharp corners
- Overhead power lines
- Trip hazards: Uneven ground, steps, loose stone
- Fall Hazards: Anything over 3′ to a lower surface (ladders, scaffolding, roofs, trees, etc)
- Tools and Equipment
Here is a general Jobsite Hazard Assessment form you can download and use for your next task.
What do I do with the hazards I found?
Find a solution. Anything will be better than doing nothing. If all you do is spray paint the trip hazard orange, you bettered your chances of seeing it and you called it out for others. As the person in charge, you have to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.
There are some instances that will have a clear solution (ex: open electric wires – call an electrician)
Other instances might require you to find some training.
- Using a new tool or piece of equipment: Spend 10 min watching a youtube video, or find a hands on training location.
- Personal Protective Equipment: Eye, hand, foot protection are a minimum for most activities. If you need to wear a respirator or Personal Fall Arrest, you need special training and fit testing from your employer or a training institute.
Listen to your instincts and those around you. If anyone is uncomfortable performing a task that is the cue to find training or look for alternate options.
A great resource for specifics on training and regulations is on the OSHA eTools website: https://www.osha.gov/etools/construction
What about hazards we will create?
Most times, a construction task will create a hazard in the process of building the finished product. Sometimes you can name and have a solution before you start, other times we uncover it mid swing and have to correct on the fly. A pre-start hazard assessment will help you think of all instances that might come up, so you can align materials or contractors to jump in at the exact moment and save the day.
Construction zones are like beacons that call out all the curious and daring. When you leave a project at the end of the day, chances are the neighbors, the customer (and their kids), and the curious father in-law will be there within the hour. That being said, it is important to protect the general public as well. Your hazard assessment should include who will be around and how you plan to keep them at a safe distance.
Is it really that important to do this every job?
DIY: If you want to be successful in your task, avoid a trip to urgent care, protect your kids while you work on the stairs. Prepare for the worst and prevent it.
Contractors/Tradesmen: Show yourself as a professional in your field. Prove it to the customers and prospects that you are worth it. You are your income, protect yourself.
Business Owners: A positive safety culture goes a long way. People will want to work for you if they know they are protected and respected when they come to you with a concern. Reduce the injuries, property damages, workman’s comp and insurance claims.