Construction work can result in painful injures that are sometimes treated with prescription opioids. One in four people prescribed opioids for long-term pain become addicted and opioid-related deaths are on the rise. In 2017 alone, more than 72,000 people died in the U.S from an overdose, over 49,000 of which involved an opioid. Overdose deaths that occur on the jobs are on the rise.
Construction workers have one of the highest rates of strains and sprain injuries due to the physically demanding nature of their work. Use of opioids to manage pain has been a common practice and resulted in high rates of addiction and overdoses.
Construction workers encounter a variety of hazards from the specific work they perform, as well as from work being performed by other workers around them including,
falls from heights,
and heavy lifting.
To work safely, they must be mentally alert.
When injures do occur it’s important for employers to work with their occupational clinics to explore other pain management options, rather than the use of prescription opioids. There are several non-opioids that can be used to manage mild to moderate pain. Non-drug treatments such as,
and physical therapy can be especially useful in treating chronic pain.
Slips, trips and falls can result in sprains and strains, cuts and bruises, broken bones and more. Slips and trips occur when there’s an unintended or unexpected change in contact between the feet and the ground or other walking-working surface.
As we begin 2020, now is good time to take a deep dive into your company’s safety manual. In a lot of cases, companies will comprise a safety manual and several years will pass without a review of their programs. And during that time
new regulations are introduced,
best practices evolve,
and company operations change.
We recommend that as an organization your safety manual is reviewed and updated at least once a year.
Employee training is paramount to the success of a safety program. It is also critical that the training be documented, and files retained to ensure that your organization is audit ready.
Employers have an obligation to put new employees through an orientation process and provide certain safety training before they are allowed to go to work.
It is also important to train workers any time a process is changed or new tools and equipment are introduced to the task.
There are so many different topics that workers could, should or must be trained on to ensure that they are prepared to do their jobs safely. Whether that’s fall protection, PPE, hazardous communication, hazard recognition, the list goes on. Refresher training is also important to keep workers up to date.
And again, keeping the employees’ training files organized and readily available ensures that you are ready for any sort of inspection by an enforcement agency.
When we think of people whose inventions have made significant impacts to our world we tend to think of Thomas Edison and the lightbulb or Karl Benz and the automobile. But in the construction industry we should thank Edward Bullard, because 100 years ago in 1919 he invented the hard had, which today is the most recognizable and common PPE item and is responsible for protecting countless people while they work.
As we all know PPE is our last line of defense from hazards. If we can’t eliminate a hazard by other means we are left with having to implement a form of personal protective equipment.
Throughout the years more and more PPE items have become common or even mandatory for example, most project sites require:
high visibility clothing
or reflective vest to be worn at all times.
OSHA has a general safety standard requiring employers to ensure that appropriate PPE is worn in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions. So, whether it’s a hard hat, safety glasses, gloves, face shield, Kevlar sleeves, respirators, the list goes on it’s important for the employer to provide what the employee needs. It’s always important for employees to understand the proper use, selection and maintenance of PPE.
The OSHA standard for protecting reinforcing steel can be found in 1926 subpart Q for concrete and masonry construction.
1926.701(b) states all protruding reinforcing steel, onto and into which employees could fall, shall be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement.
Exposure to impalement is always a concern when employees are working above rebar or other sharp protrusions. Protection is typically provided by using caps or covers made of plastic, wood or metal.
One issue we see when walking project jobsites, is when companies use the mushroom style plastic covers to provide impalement protection. These types of covers are suitable protection from scratches ONLY and cannot be used for impalement protection.
In construction a large portion of work is performed outdoors. Extreme temperatures influence worker safety and during summer months workers are at a greater risk for heat stress.
Heat stress is the overall heat load on the human body that includes temperature, humidity and radiant heat in the thermal environment, and metabolic heat generated by physical activities.
Heat illness is the result of the body’s inability to expel heat, causing excessive sweat loss or an overly high body core temperature. Ailments that can arise because of excess heat are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps and heat rash.
To combat the effects of working in the heat, employees and employers must use certain strategies.
Acclimatization is the physiological adaptation of the human body to heat. Employee should gradually increase their work intensity and duration and exposure to the heat during this acclimatization period.
Next you can adjust your shift times to have employees start earlier in the day to avoid working during the hottest part of the day.
Maintain a state of hydration. Drink water frequently, not just when you feel thirsty. Click here (English & Spanish) to view our info-graphic that helps explain this.
Train workers on the signs and symptoms of heat illness.
OSHA requires that regular and frequent inspections of job sites, materials and equipment be made by a competent person designated by the employer. These inspections are instrumental in establishing and maintaining a good safety culture. It is also important that these inspections be documented either on paper or using some sort of electronic system. CORE encourages the use of an electronic system which allows the inspection data to be tracked which can help identify areas for improvement on a project site or throughout the company. And really that’s the bigger picture reason of why the regular and frequent inspection are so important. By recognizing the issues we can make policy changes, process improvements or identify training that needs to be provided. These inspections are also important for showing OSHA that as an employer you are doing your due diligence to provide a safe working environment.
Every year over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. Join the American Ladder Institute (ALI) and participate in the third annual National Ladder Safety Month February 24 – March 31.
This important month was designed to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities.
During the month of March, each week brings a new focus:
February 24 – March 2: What is Ladder Safety?
March 3 – 9: Ladder Safety Training and Year Round Partners
First what makes a habit? Habits are built in four stages.
The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward. Now this behavior could be safe or unsafe. Let’s taking tie-off for example. The cue is that you’re working at an elevation that you need fall protection.
Cravings are the second step of the habit loop, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of motivation or desire we have no reason to act. Sticking with our example of tie-off, the obvious craving is protection if you fall or you could have the craving to get the job done quickly.
The third step is the response. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Whether a response occurs or not depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behavior. For example, due to the cue and craving you hopefully will tie off before being in danger. This behavior could be reinforced by a large amount of friction if you do not tie off. Knowing not tying off could result in suspension or termination from your employer, let alone if you fall it could result in serious injury or death. However, if the more powerful craving is to get the job done quickly, you may take a short cut and make the choice not to tie off.
Finally, the response delivers a reward. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. If you choice tie off the reward of protection from a fall and ensuring that you go home is much more valuable that saving marginal time on the task.
To conclude, focus on your cues and cravings and have the discipline to respond the right way.