OSHA’s guide to boosting safety in a construction zone

The National Safety Council (NSC) has joined forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to help facilitate safer and healthier climates at work, according to Occupational Health and Safety.

“Eleven Americans die at work each day, which is tragic and unacceptable,” said Jim Johnson, vice president of workplace safety initiatives at NSC. “Establishing safer workplaces and preventing deaths and injuries is a complex issue that requires a cadre of individuals and organizations. The NIOSH program is an archetypal example of collaboration and cooperation, and we are pleased to partner with organizations that share the Council’s mission on saving lives.”

Meanwhile, in other organizational news, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued several best practices for maintaining a danger-free construction site. Major construction site events include falls, trench collapses, scaffolding accidents, electrocution and repetitive motion injuries.

OSHA cited scaffolding as a major area of interest for construction companies. Employers may want to check scaffolding to make sure it will support the weight of every worker who will be walking on it at once. Additionally, scaffolding ought to have tightly planked material, such as strong wood or grating. Importantly, the rules state the scaffolds must be kept at least 10 feet away from any power lines to prevent electrocution.

Trench collapses are the cause of hundreds of injuries every year, according to OSHA. It recommends that workers stay clear of any unprotected trenches, and to include interior support systems for trenches that are 20 feet deep or less. Trenches should have an exit – such as a latter, stairway or a ramp, OSHA said.

The slope of a trench is also of considerable importance. OSHA recommends employers and safety personnel check soil tip to determine the degree of slope to prevent collapses.

OSHA is also very specific about the rules for electrical risks. For example, a damp environment requires extra caution because of the danger to accidently conduct electricity.

Electricity works by moving along a circuit; when a worker is shocked he or she becomes part of the circuit – the electricity moves through that person’s body. Examples of completing a circuit include touching both the positive and negative wires of a terminal, or touching one of the wires and the ground.

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