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Work Safety: Tips

Numerous accidents occur on construction sites every year, resulting in injuries to construction workers. These injuries are often serious, changing the lives of workers and their families forever. Even worse, many accidents result in the deaths of workers. These deaths leave behind wives and children who will never see their loved one again. This situation is even more pertinent on job sites that require workers to perform tasks at great heights.

Today we present several tips and precautions which will enable you to increase the safety of your crew immediately and without significant investment.


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Precautions to Help Prevent Falls

The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” goes a long way in defining the importance of planning in regards to safety on a work site. Of all the tips and tricks to minimizing falls and other accidents while working on roofs, the best one is to prevent issues from happening in the first place. Any action or measure that can prevent an accident is one well worth taking. While it would be safe to say that such measures are worth their weight in gold, the truth is they are worth even more than that. Any measure that can prevent an accident may save a life, and there is no sum of money, gold or otherwise, that can equal that.

Work on a roof without actually stepping onto it

One of the main causes of falls from roofs is weak points in the roof. This can be the result of age, damage or poor materials being used during the initial construction. The most important thing to do is to identify any of these dangers prior to starting any roofing project. In the event that the roof being worked on has weaknesses or other such dangers the best plan is to use Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (MEWPs) whenever possible. These platforms, often referred to as ‘cherry pickers,’ enable a team to work on a roof without actually having to step onto the roof. This eliminates any accidents due to the hazards inherent in an old or damaged roof. Ideally, such mobile platforms would enable a crew to perform roof work from the underside of the roof, allowing them total roof access while staying completely safe.

Instating barriers around the perimeter

Holes created during construction work is another variable that frequently causes fall-related deaths. Tiles, boards and other materials may be temporarily removed in order to be replaced, creating a weak point that did not exist prior to the start of the project. These hazards are especially dangerous as workers would be confident in the roof’s safety as the result of any pre-project inspections and safety briefings. It is critical, therefore, to take extra steps to prevent these newly created hazards from posing any potential threat. One way to address the issue is to surround any weakened areas with a caution tape or other visible barrier. While this barrier won’t prevent a person from stepping onto the area, it will serve as a clear warning of the danger that may occur in doing so.

Cover any weakened areas to prevent accident

The best way to prevent weakened areas from causing accidents, however, is to place a cover over any such area. This cover should be extra stable and sturdy, capable of supporting twice the weight of workers and materials expected to be in the area at any given time. Using brightly colored materials or a bright border will add a level of safety by making the cover stand out and advertising the danger it is intended to protect against. Caution tape or other visible warning barriers should also be erected around skylights or other roof features that are not designed to withstand a person’s full body weight. The time it takes to construct these barriers is well worth it as it could prevent unnecessary damage, injury or even death.

Manage the flow and logistics of operation

Controlling the logistics of workers and supplies on a roof at any given time will also go a long way to significantly reducing the risk of roof related accidents. Restricting the time any worker spends on the roof will help them to stay focused on where they are. The longer a person is on a roof, the more familiar he will become with the roof environment. Eventually, they may forget the inherent dangers where they are and make the only mistake they need to change their lives forever. By reducing the time a person spends on the roof, you cause them to constantly be reminded of where they are and the safety measures they need to practice. This will help to eliminate accidents caused by a simple lack of concentration.

The provision of personal protective equipment

The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is another sure way to help keep the risk of work site accidents to a minimum. In the case of rooftop projects, harnesses and other such safety equipment should be utilized without exception. Regardless of the time, expense and hassle involved in such measures, the ends will always justify the means. Far too many serious injuries and deaths have occurred in areas where a harness would have kept the worker completely safe. Thus, PPE should be a priority, no matter how small or simple the project may be.

Training workers in protective equipment usage

In addition to providing the proper PPE, training should be regularly incorporated into the routine of the construction crew. More often than not, PPE training is little more than a dreaded element of orientation that the average person just skims over in order to get orientation done and over with. The result of this is that most people get an incomplete picture of how PPE works and when it should be used. Even worse, this incomplete picture becomes ever hazier the longer the person works for that given company. In order to provide full and effective knowledge of PPE, regular training should be given to all personnel. This training should take the form of refresher courses, including tests to ensure all workers fully understand the material. Additionally, drills should be regularly administered, allowing workers to demonstrate their proficiency with any and all available PPE.


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The Role of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the final measure that should be taken to increase workplace safety to a maximum. While this equipment should not be relied on alone to prevent accidents and injuries, it can serve as an invaluable addition to all other safety measures. After all, this equipment will prove meaningless if the appropriate inspections are not performed, or if other precautionary measures are not in place to ensure the safety of the workers. However, when used in conjunction with Safe Work Procedures, PPE can add an extra dimension to the safety and protection of the crew, ensuring that accidents are kept to a minimum and that injuries are reduced in severity.

Every equipment has their own purpose

The first and most critical element regarding the use of PPE is that the correct equipment should be used for the correct purpose. Any PPE is capable of keeping a person safe only if it is used as intended. Like any other equipment, each piece of PPE is designed to serve a very specific purpose. You would not expect to get great results if you used a forklift to dig a ditch. Simply put, the forklift isn’t designed for that function. If used for anything beyond moving materials, specifically palette stacked materials, a forklift will prove ineffective. PPE works in exactly the same way. The main difference, however, is that PPE is designed to protect workers under very specific circumstances. Used in any other way than its intended purpose, the PPE will provide no real amount of protection. In fact, when used incorrectly, PPE can actually increase the risk to the worker. Therefore, it is critical that the supervisor of the job or some other member of the team be fully informed of the design and purpose of each piece of PPE to ensure that the proper items are on hand and used at the appropriate times.

Train for when the needs for PPE arise

The next critical element in PPE use is proper training. Every worker who may come into contact with or use PPE in any way should know everything there is to know about that piece of equipment. The better trained the person is, the more effective they will be at using PPE. Just because a piece of equipment is designed to increase safety doesn’t mean that the equipment itself is safe. Only when it used in the right way, will PPE provide any sort of increased protection. Used incorrectly or in the wrong conditions, PPE will increase the dangers rather than reduce them. Thus, just as it is critical that the supervisors be fully informed about each piece of PPE, so too is it critical for the users themselves to be just as fully informed. Not only will reference materials help to achieve this goal, but regular drills and hands on demonstrations will go a long way to maximizing the effectiveness of all PPE.

Common types of PPE

One of the key pieces of PPE used in roofing projects is the travel restraint system. This is an item that serves to restrict the movement of a worker, thus preventing them from overextending themselves and increasing their risk of falling. The most common forms of travel restraint system are belts and harnesses. Used properly, these tools will ensure that no accidents occur that would allow the worker to fall from their working platform. However, it is critical to ensure that the restraint system is correctly deployed, being properly anchored to the appropriate point as well as being properly attached to the person using it. This should be part and parcel of the safety inspection performed prior to beginning that particular job.

Another piece of PPE commonly used on elevated construction projects is the individual fall arrest system. This usually takes the form of a harness, ensuring that the worker is secured at heights even if they fall off of their working platform. These systems can be simple, consisting of a harness being anchored directly to the platform itself, or they can be more complex, involving additional lines referred to as lifelines. In the case of lifeline systems, the harness is attached to lines that are in turn anchored to the platform itself. These systems are used when greater mobility is required for the job at hand. However, with the increased complexity of these systems comes increased risk accidents. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that all inspections are done thoroughly and that all members using or in contact with the fall arrest system are trained and briefed on its proper use.


Simple Tips and Tricks for Improved Safety

So far, we haven’t yet mentioned the most important element of construction site safety—an element that can and will make the difference between safety success and safety failure. That element, in short, is common sense.

Common sense: most important element

The number one cause of accidents on any work site—let alone those involving working at heights, is carelessness. Cutting corners, skipping steps, half-hearted inspections—all of these lead to increased risk of accident, injury and even death. Therefore, the number one solution to increase safety is to use simple, down to earth common sense. By following some very basic tips you can help to ensure that your workers are protected and that every site you work on is safer all round.

Enroll workers for safety and technical training

The first tip is to increase training. If your workers are better informed on the dangers inherent in the job, then they will be more capable of spotting those dangers in the first place. Better training will result in better habits, which in turn will reduce the risk of accidents and injuries and create a healthier, safer work environment. In addition to training workers on the dangers themselves, it is critical to train them on the procedures and practices that help to address those dangers. Again, the better trained your workers are on safety standards like SWP or PPE, the better prepared they will be when confronted with the hazards of working on heights. Regular refresher courses on safety will help all workers to stay fresh and up to date on the issues that can help keep them safe and healthy while on the work site.

Get multiple workers to do the safety inspection

Another recommendation is to get multiple workers involved in the safety inspections. While it is only required that supervisors conduct safety inspections, including other workers, will help to improve the chances of spotting any issues. This regular involvement in safety inspections will also serve as an ongoing training tool that will help improve the awareness of dangers on the work site.

In addition to simply conducting the inspection, a supervisor can actually quiz the workers on important safety topics, specifically those related to any issues that appear during the inspection. This will significantly increase the ability of all workers to detect hazards and potentially spot problems before they occur. The more involved every worker is in making the work environment safe, the safer everyone’s job will be.

Provide the best safety equipment

It should go without saying that every construction site should have the best safety equipment available. While using old and worn ladders, scaffolds and the like may seem like a great way to save money, it is, in fact, a great way to put lives at risk. All equipment should be replaced at any sign of wear or damage. No amount of instruction or inspections will be of any value if the equipment you are using proves dangerous itself. Only when you have safe, reliable equipment can you be assured that your workers will be safe while using that equipment. Therefore, inspections of all equipment, especially PPE and roof access equipment, should be performed on a regular basis. This is especially true whenever equipment is subjected to extreme weather conditions or other such situations that may increase the strain and stress that the equipment is put under. Charging a particular person with this task is an easy way of ensuring that the equipment is kept at peak performance levels at all times. However, every worker should be familiar with and keenly interested in the condition of any and all equipment they use at any given time.

Implementing open door policy

Finally, the best tip that can be given to increase the safety of your workers is to establish an open door policy with regard to any concerns over safety or other related issues. If a worker has concerns over certain policies or practices they should be able to raise those concerns with the highest levels of management without fear of any negative repercussions. All too often workers will keep their opinions to themselves because they don’t want to rock the boat. How many accidents could be prevented, and lives potentially saved, if this were not the case? The better the lines of communication between management and workers, the better the conditions on the site overall. Therefore, it’s not just a matter of you talking to your crew, it’s also a matter of encouraging your crew to talk to you.



Conclusion

No effort is too great if even one accident can be prevented. That is especially true if it means a life could be saved. Hopefully, this post has provided you with both the ideas and the inspiration to start improving the safety and security of your work sites immediately.

You may also be interested in best practices and safety procedures to follow for a safer work environment.

Other related articles: Everything You Have to Know About Work Boots

Work Safety: Regulations & Framework

From rooftop projects to high-rise construction, any project that involves working off the ground greatly increases the risk of accidents and the severity of the injury that results from them. Fortunately, there are numerous practices and tools which can help to significantly reduce the risk of such accidents. We will present several of these practices and frameworks, describing how they can be used to your greatest benefit.


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Why workplace safety is so critical

Construction work of any type is one of the most hazardous jobs on the planet. The combination of heavy equipment, machines, large amounts of heavy or dangerous materials and dangerous locations all add up to a scenario just begging for disaster to strike.

Unfortunately for many, disaster does strike on too regular of a basis. While some accidents are purely random and unavoidable, the vast majority of accidents are not. On the contrary, most workplace accidents are completely preventable. This only stands to make such incidents that much more tragic, as lives are changed, ruined or even lost for wholly avoidable reasons.

Main reason for workplace accidents

Studies have shown that the vast majority of preventable accidents occur due to inadequate training and insufficient resources regarding safety procedures. The more training regarding safety procedures and precautions that construction personnel has, the less likely they are to experience on the job accidents. Likewise, the more resources that construction sites have with regard to safety procedures and equipment, the more likely that site is to remain accident-free. However, when training is lax and safety resources are scarce, the chance for accidents increases exponentially. Not only will the number of accidents increase in these conditions, but the severity of the accidents themselves will increase.

The benefits of safety training and equipment

Proper training and resources help to mitigate the risk and severity of injuries to construction workers. It is therefore critical for anyone overseeing a construction operation of any type to ensure that the proper amount of training and equipment is made available to any and all personnel on the site. This will ensure that injuries, as well as being kept to a minimum in number, will also be kept to a minimum in severity. The ultimate gain from this is the reduction in lives lost due to accidents on the work site.

A great many accidents can cause serious damage to equipment and the site itself, resulting in large sums of money being needed for repairs and the like. Proper training will help to prevent damage to equipment, materials and the site as a whole. After all, while the safety of the crew is the paramount concern, the construction business is just that—a business. Thus, any accident or injury, as well as being measured in terms of human cost, can also be measured in terms of financial cost. Taking the extra time and effort to prevent workplace accidents will thus not only benefit the workers, but it will benefit the company’s bottom line as well.

Who’s responsible for workplace safety?

The burden of responsibility for workplace safety does not rest squarely on the shoulders of the person in charge. While the head of any construction company is responsible for anything and everything that happens on the site, the fact is that all members of the construction team can share in ensuring that safety is made the number one priority. Supervisors can ensure that necessary materials are made available, both in terms of certified reference materials as well as safety equipment and the likes. Additionally, supervisors can make sure that safety meetings and even drills are held on a regular basis, guaranteeing that everyone is up to date on the latest safety procedures.

Perhaps the ultimate burden of responsibility lies with the rank and file of the construction crew. While instructional meetings and materials can educate a person to perform their job more safely, only the willingness to follow safety protocols will actually allow them to have any impact on the safety of the job site. Therefore, it is critical that a certain amount of oversight be given to each worker, ensuring that they are following the highest safety standards at all times. Any worker failing to adhere to those standards not only poses a threat to their own safety, but they pose a threat to the safety of others as well.


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How Careful Planning Increases Safety

An axiom used often in the military is: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” While this is true of just about any scenario, it probably can best be applied to scenarios involving safety. After all, as mentioned earlier, the vast majority of accidents that occur on construction sites are completely preventable. The reason they still occur is in no small part due to a lack of careful planning before the first brick was laid or the first nail was hammered. The most successful construction teams in terms of safety and performance are those who take the extra time to thoroughly plan out all angles of the task at hand. Not only do these teams suffer fewer on-site accidents, but they also have a better overall reputation for the reliability of their work.

Needless to say, the higher a construction job goes, the more dangerous it is. Thus, working on roofs is one of the most dangerous and accident prone construction jobs there are. While you might expect that most accidents involving roof work occur on long jobs or complex jobs such as roof construction, it turns out that the opposite is true. A great many roof-related incidents happen on small jobs, usually requiring few workers and a minimal amount of time. In fact, jobs such as replacing roofing tiles are one of the biggest contributors to construction site accidents. The reason for this is that proper planning is all too often skipped due to the simple nature of the job at hand. Therefore, no matter how big or small the job may be, careful planning should always be step number one.
The first goal of any planning is Risk Assessment. Before a single person begins work, the safety of the roof itself should be ascertained. Any weaknesses or other dangers should be discovered and well noted, both on paper and verbally to all team members. Other variables to consider are the roof type, the angle of the roof slope, the height of the roof and the time the job is expected to take. After all, the longer a worker is on the roof, the longer they are exposed to danger.

Careful inspection before starting a project

Careful planning should also be given to the roof access itself. Whether you are using ladders or full-fledged scaffolding, the same attention to detail should be given. Things such as gaps between scaffolding and the roof need to be noted and addressed. All personnel needs to know where to be the most careful. Proper handholds should be available, no matter what kind of access you are using. Ladders should exceed the height of the roof by at least one meter, and scaffolds should have a safety railing to prevent falls.
The safety of any roof access equipment must begin from the ground up. All the safety railings and proper heights are for nothing if ladders aren’t properly secured or scaffolds aren’t properly anchored. Thus, before a single person ascends to their lofty job site, time and effort should be spent inspecting every detail of the ground safety of any roof access point.

Next, every element of the job, from the roof access to the tools used, to the roof itself, should be inspected for damage or wear. Any cables or ropes that are frayed could give way, causing materials to fall and potentially injure personnel below. Additionally, any weak joints in a ladder or scaffold could cause a person to lose footing and fall, causing serious injury or even death. Thus, every item, including the site itself, should be gone over with a fine tooth comb in order to find and eliminate any potential dangers.

Safety training prior to entering work site

Finally, training is just as important as any other element in the planning stage. In fact, it is at this time that training is most effective at preventing accidents. After all, once a person enters the work site, they become exposed to the dangers and risks inherent in the site itself. Thus, if they aren’t already trained on safety issues, then the chances of them being involved in an accident are exponentially higher. Take the time to make sure all workers know how to safely use any roofing access points, ladders and scaffolds alike. Additionally, make sure that everyone knows the right way to traverse the rooftop itself. Ensuring proper training in this area will go a long way to preventing the vast majority of roof work accidents.


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Administrative Resources for Increasing Safety

The role of supervisors, overseers and other administrative staff in ensuring safe working conditions on any job site, let alone high-risk sites such as roofs, cannot be overstated. In fact, certain legal restrictions have been put in place to help guarantee that the highest of safety standards are followed while working in areas where the risk of falling more than 3 meters exists. The penalty for not following the legal guidelines can be severe, including heavy fines, withdrawal of permits from the company or even jail time. However, the greatest risk involved in not following the proper procedures during rooftop projects is the human cost involved in any accident. It is critical, therefore, that the administrative controls be followed as they are in the best interest of both the company and the workers.

Applying for a Permit to Work in Singapore

There are two main administrative resources to increase the safety levels of any work at heights job location. The first of these is what is called the Permit-To-Work (PTW)system. This system requires the company to apply for a permit before starting their project. A local government official known as the Safety Assessor (SA) is responsible for issuing this permit, but only after performing a careful inspection of the work site to ensure that all safety measures required for the permit are in place. This inspection takes place with the supervisor of the job, thus enabling the SA to raise any doubts or concerns in real time. Only when the SA is fully confident that all required safety precautions have been taken will the permit be issued, allowing the work to take place. Failure to meet any of the conditions will result in a delay of the permit being issued. Only when an inspection is 100% will the work be allowed.

Since the inspection has to be perfect, applications for a PTW should not be submitted until the site is considered completely prepared. This is not only the case with first-time permits, but it is also the case for extensions of existing permits. PTWs are only issued for a duration of 7 days. Thus, any work that requires a PTW, but which cannot be performed within 7 days, will require additional PTWs to extend the period of time until the project is completed. Each extension application will be treated as a first time application, meaning that the inspection will be conducted with scrutiny each and every time. Failure to meet the inspection’s requirements will result in delays in work, resulting in extended wages and equipment costs as well as the overall loss of time. Therefore it is critical to meet the requirements completely on every inspection.

Implementing Safe Work Procedure

The second administrative resource for ensuring safety on a high construction location is what is known as Safe Work Procedure (SWP). These are strictly internal, requiring no outside oversight or permissions. In short, the SWP of a company is gathered together and presented as part of Risk Assessment. These will include but are not limited to ensuring the proper inspection of sites for hazards, the proper issuance and use of PPE, placement of warning signs around any known danger areas, and the placement of safety equipment such as handrails, safety nets and the like. In short, the SWP is the basis of the safety standards that will guarantee that any risk of fall or injury due to high-level working conditions are reduced to an absolute minimum. While the SWP is not the same as the PTW, the fact is that they operate hand in hand. Unless effective SWP is in place, there will be no chance in acquiring any permits for any type of project.

Maintaining daily inspections

Daily inspections are required for maintaining a PTW for the duration of the job, or until the PTW expires. Likewise, daily inspections are necessary to ensure that all SWP are in place and achieving the desired results. While inspecting the same site day in and day out may seem to be a waste of time and resources, the simple truth is that when these inspections are skipped or ran through in a careless manner, accidents are almost guaranteed to take place. The significance of these inspections, therefore, is beyond measure. When done right, accidents and injuries are kept to an absolute minimum, meaning that workers are effectively protected from any unnecessary danger. Additionally, financial losses are kept to a minimum as well. Effective inspections can discover the potential for problems just before they occur. Equipment that is worn or damaged can be repaired or replaced before any serious incident causes harm to a person or the site in general. The money saved by preventing accidents more than makes up for the time and money spent on the inspections themselves.



Conclusion

Of all of the assets your company possesses, none is more valuable than your workers. Therefore, reducing the risk of accident and injury to your workers should be your number one priority! The sooner you apply the information in this page, the sooner you will be able to create a safer work environment for you and your crew.

You may also be interested in several measures to increase the safety of your crew immediately and without significant investment.

Important Safety Measures When Working At Height

Regardless of the frequency of you or your employees working from heights, it’s crucial that you put much importance and attention on safety measures. Why?

All it takes is just one simple mistake in the way routine works from heights are performed for a potentially fatal fall to happen. And whether it’s one fatality or several, a fatality is a very serious matter regardless of the number.

Prevention is always better than cure and it’s no different when it comes to workplace safety when working from heights. The following safety measures can help you minimize or even prevent falling from height accidents in the workplace.

Proper Training

No amount of safety measures, gear, and equipment will ever make up for ignorance or irresponsible behaviors and attitudes. Giving workers proper and regular training will enable them to optimize the safety measures and equipment you’ll provide to minimize fall-from- height accidents. It can also help put them in their place if they’re a bit arrogant or overconfident because, during training, they’ll have the chance to see for themselves – without having to suffer injuries – the potentially fatal or very serious injuries they may suffer from their current attitudes.

Rails

Using rails whenever possible is the easiest way to provide passive protection for your workers who are working from heights. And yes, those workers include those who are careless or arrogant. Because railings surround workers while on platforms, it will take a lot for them to fall off platforms. And by a lot, I mean huge acts of stupidity and arrogance such as intentionally climbing out of railings just for kicks or for bragging rights.

Proper Estimation Of Fall Distance

It can be tempting to dismiss any discussions or thought processes that deal with estimation of fall distances because come on, how difficult can that be? If a work platform is 10 feet high, it follows that the falling distance is 10 feet and therefore, fall protection equipment such as a lanyard must be 10 feet long too.

Wrong! More than just the actual height of the platform, estimating falling distance should take into consideration the worker’s height, the point at which the lanyard is connected to his body, and deployment distance or length if the lanyard has a deceleration device. Why? It’s because all of these will extend the lanyard’s effective length, which can make it effectively longer than the falling height. And if that’s the case, a worker will still hit the ground when he falls despite having safety equipment such as a lanyard attached to him. So when estimating falling distance, you must factor other stuff like what I mentioned above in order to protect workers from falling-related injuries.

Choose The Right Anchor Point

Anchor points for fall protection when working from heights are points from which tie-off equipment such as lifelines and lanyards are connected to in order to keep workers from falling to the ground in case they lose balance and fall of their working platforms. The primary considerations for choosing the right anchor point are stability and strength. In particular, you’ll need to determine the maximum amount of stress or weight an anchor point can bear or carry, which must be about 5,000 pounds per attached person. And most fixtures aren’t that strong to handle such stress or weight.

Choosing the wrong anchor points can render the use of tie-off devices useless because what point is a strong lanyard or lifeline when the anchor point will eventually break off during a fall and let the worker tied to it, plunge to the ground?

Conclusion

Whether or not the risks for falling from height accidents are high, you should never neglect or take for granted key safety measures because the potential impacts in terms of injuries can be very serious to the point that it may cause permanent disability or death to your workers. There’s no such thing as too few or too many debilitating or fatal injuries from falls. Any debilitating or fatal fall is one fall from height accident too many. The only acceptable number for such is zero. And safety measures help you minimize the incidents and impacts of such to your workers and your company.

What To Do When There’s A Fall From Height Incident

Your ability to properly react to an accident where either you or someone else fell from a height can spell the difference between a falling accident that’s less serious and one that’s serious. Doing so can help you reduce significantly any consequences of such an accident, whether it’s psychological or physical. So what should you do when there’s a fall from height incident? Well, it depends on whether or not it’s you who fell or someone else.

If You’re The One Who Fell

If after falling you can sense that it’s still possible for you to get up on your own, you should first catch your breath and do a quick check of yourself for any injuries before attempting to get up. If you’re injured and you try to stand up without being aware of such an injury, you may just aggravate it. But if after checking you find that you’re injury free, then by all means get back up. Just take your time though and don’t be pressured to get back up as quickly as possible.

When getting up after falling from a height, you should proceed by first lying on your side. Then, bend your leg that’s on top before lifting yourself on your hands or elbows. When you’ve done that, look for a sturdy object such as an armchair then pull yourself – still positioned on your side – towards that object. As soon as you’re very near that sturdy object, get yourself to a kneeling position while putting your hands on that sturdy object. Put your dominant or stronger leg in front and gradually stand up while holding on the sturdy object for support. If it’s a sturdy chair or low-rise table, turn around gradually and sit down on it.

But what if you find yourself unable to stand up on your own? Stay down and call for help by shouting, using your radio or cellphone if you have one with you, gradually pull yourself to the nearest telephone if there’s one nearby, or make a lot of noise with whatever hard object you have in order to draw people’s attention.

If Someone Else Fell From A Height

While it’s very tempting to believe that the best way to help a person who fell from a height is to help them get back up quickly, it isn’t. The best way to proceed is to first check the person’s physical condition, e.g., is he conscious or not, or is he injured, and reassure him that you’re there to help him.

If the person who fell seems to be able to get right back up, help the person do so with great care. How? Bring a sturdy object such as a chair close to the person. Then, help him turn to his side and bend the leg on top and assist him into assuming a semi-seated posture. After that, put yourself behind him and hold him by the hips to help him assume a kneeling position.

Then, help him put both his hands on the sturdy object, put his stronger leg in front. Help him stand up as he holds on the sturdy object before turning him around to sit on it.

If the person isn’t able to get up, the best thing to do is administer first aid, help him take a comfortable position, keep him warm with a blanket or clothing item, and call immediately for help. Do not attempt to help him stand up if he’s injured and can’t get up.

Be Prepared All The Time

The chances of minimizing the impact of accidents involving falling from heights can be greatly reduced with awareness on proper handling of such, regardless if it happens to you or someone else. With quick, decisive, and proper action immediately after falling accidents, you can help yourself or other people limit injuries suffered and speed up the healing and recovery process. Knowledge therefore, is power.

Why Your Staff Should Be Trained In First Aid

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident.” – Unknown Author

Prevention is always better than cure. But let’s face it, we live in an imperfect world that’s inhabited by imperfect creatures like you and I. Because of that, prevention doesn’t always work. Some things are just able to slip through the cracks, such as accidents. And the best risk management systems don’t just focus on prevention, which is a great idea, but also consider measures to minimize or significantly reduce the potential impacts of risks that materialize.

And the best workplace risk management systems always include staff training for occupational first aid. Why? It’s because of the key advantages that doing so provides.

The Health And Financial Cost Advantage

Training your employees in the area of occupational first aid can help you contain or prevent injuries suffered by them in case of workplace accidents from being further aggravated. When that happens, your employees’ chances of recovering and healing from suffered injuries are very high.

And because health is wealth, your company will also be able to save money on potentially costly medical treatments to treat aggravated or worsened injuries.

With first aid, you can immediately stop serious bleeding prior to the arrival of the paramedics, which minimizes the risk of having to go through blood transfusions and other expensive medical procedures that can be avoided with immediate first aid.

Morale Boosting Advantage

Whether you like it or not, the ability to boost your employees’ morale is one of the best ways to make your company a very productive and profitable one.

When your employees’ morale are very high, they will feel a great sense of pride and joy in what they do, which will translate into optimal productivity and minimal employee problems.

When you train your company’s employees in the science of occupational first aid, you’ll be able to boost their morale in 2 ways. One is you build up their skill sets to include one that they can use not just to save their co-workers’ lives but also the lives of their families and friends! The other way it can help boost employee morale is when they actually get to apply their newfound skills and save the life or minimize the injuries of their fellow workers. Your employees can experience the profound high of knowing that they saved or helped save the life of a co-employee, or at the very least, prevented a serious injury from worsening into a potentially fatal one.

Increased Awareness

There’s a principle in psychology that says what is given much attention becomes important to people. By training your staff in occupational first aid, you inadvertently place the importance of developing such abilities or skills at the forefront of their consciousness, i.e., you bring it right smack in the middle (or front) of their attention. By doing so, you subconsciously make them more safety conscious.

When your employees are more safety conscious or aware, they will tend to practice occupational safety habits more and more, which can collectively help bring down the frequency or number of accidents in your company.

It’s A Low-Cost High-Benefit Investment

Investing in your employees’ occupational first aid training won’t cost your company an arm and a leg but the return on investment in terms of workers’ safety and health – and ultimately company productivity and productivity – can be huge! Therefore, it should no longer be an issue of whether or not you should invest in it but when. And to answer that question, the answer is this: the best time to invest was yesterday and the next best time is now.

Importance Of Having A Safety Plan For Your Company

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Safety is everyone’s concern  from the company’s owners all the way down to the lowest ranking employee. Every person has the right to stay safe and healthy in their workplaces, and with such rights, come obligations for the company and its owners to put into place – systems that’ll minimize workplace-related accidents and their potential impacts on both the workers and the enterprise.

Why A Safety Plan?

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin’s above-mentioned quote, if your company fails to plan for safety, then it’s practically planning for danger. Without a safety plan, several things can and will go wrong. With a safety plan, your company will become a much safer one. How?

First, the chances of minimizing injuries and preventing potentially fatal accidents are much higher when systems and facilities that ensure workers’ safety are in place. The best way to solve problems is by nipping them in the bud, i.e., just before they bloom into full-fledged issues or concerns. If I were to use a personal analogy, it’s easier to keep excess weight off than lose it later on.

The second way a safety plan makes your company a much safer plan is that, in the rare chances that accidents do happen, your company will be able to immediately contain its negative effects. Let’s take a look at the basic workplace practice of having a good number of fire extinguishers placed in key areas of the workplace or having a sprinkler system installed in case fires do break out as examples. Having such measures in place can quickly contain the fire so that injuries to workers and damages to property can be minimized.

When it comes to systems or practices, another basic but important workplace safety policy is to conduct regular fire or earthquake drills. Doing so ensures that your company’s workers won’t panic in case a fire breaks out or an earthquake happens, and can quickly and safely get out of the building. Without regular drills, your workers won’t be familiar with how to quickly and safely get out of the building during fires or after earthquakes and as such, panic may ensue and exacerbate the situation.

What Should It Cover?

More than just having a safety plan, your company must have one that works, i.e., covers the most important risks. And what are those risks?

One of them is working from heights. Falling from high working places is one of the most common reasons for workplace accidents – some of which are fatal. By having systems and facilities in place to minimize the risk of your workers falling to the ground and minimize the impacts of such when it happens, you can make your company -especially if it’s a construction one – a very safe place to work in.

Another major risk area to cover is working in confined spaces. As with working from heights, this also contributes a lot to the workplace or construction-related injuries and deaths. Because it can be very challenging to enter confined spaces to rescue someone who was accidentally injured, your company must have systems and equipment in place that will minimize confined space risks, and mitigate any damages and injuries that may arise when such risks materialize.

Planning For Safety

Make no mistake about it, having a safety plan for your company isn’t just one of the best investments it can ever make. It’s also a mandatory one. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure and if I may add, having a cure in hand always trumps not having one for when accidents happen. That’s why planning for your company’s safety is tantamount to making your company a safe place to work in.

Safety Concerns To Look Out For During Building & Construction

When it comes to fatalities, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the construction industry has a substantially higher rate than most other industries. And when you consider non-fatal or minor accidents, the numbers may even be double or triple those of other industries.

Why is that so? It’s because the construction industry has safety concerns that are more pronounced compared to non-construction industries. And what are those safety concerns? Let’s take a look at the most important safety concerns with building and construction activities.

Slips, Trips, & Falls

Construction work involves a wide variety of work activities on site. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that falls, trips, and slips can happen almost everyday. This is mainly due to the fact that construction and building work sites are a cacophony of structures at different completion stages; there are also ground holes, stored equipment and materials, and scaffoldings to consider. For many construction workers and managers, it seems that normal to have eyes even at the back of their heads in order to keep safe!

Working at Height

In many cases, working on buildings – whether demolitions or constructions – would necessitate people working from relatively high elevation; falls from which usually result in debilitating or fatal injuries. Workers’ risks for falling from heights while doing construction or building work are often heightened by constrictions in mobility and access to such high working spaces.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Many construction workers suffer from a condition called hand-arm vibration syndrome, or HAVS. It’s a condition in which a person suffers from a debilitating and painful condition of the blood vessels, joints, and nerves caused by extended and chronic use of vibrating ground working equipment and power tools. This particular medical condition is one of the most prominent causes or basis for claims filed by former construction workers against their former employers who fail to provide adequate protection for their former and current workers.

Electricity

Electrocution is one of the most common types of work accidents that construction workers get into, year in and year out, especially those who are involved with the refurbishing of buildings. In particular, those who are working very close to overhead power cables and lines are at substantially higher risks for electrocution accidents. One of the reasons for many cases of electrocution involves the assignment of non-qualified personnel to do electrical work.

Noise

One of the major construction-related hazards that are often taken for granted on work sites is noise. When a worker’s subject to loud noises every now and then, the risk for hearing impairment is rather low. It’s a different story however when we talk about excessive, repetitive, and chronic exposure to extremely loud noises. And more than just hearing impairment, excessively loud noises may also be dangerously distracting for construction workers and cause serious accidents on site.

Many people think that when it comes to minimizing the risks for hearing impairment in construction sites, using ordinary earplugs can do the trick. Often times, ordinary plugs don’t offer enough protection for workers. As such, employers are often mandated to conduct and document a very extensive assessment of the risks associated with excessively loud noises at construction sites as well as giving their workers the necessary gear for minimizing hearing-impairment risks.

Risk Management Is Risk Minimization

Risk can’t be eliminated but they can be managed. The ability to clearly identify potential risks associated with building and construction, such as those enumerated here, is crucial because you can’t manage what you don’t know. And when it comes to implementing measures for managing identified risks, it’s important to consider how to minimize the chances of such risks actually happening.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is much better than a pound of cure. Risk management is prevention.

How Bizsafe Will Benefit Your Company

“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” – Eleanor Everet, safety expert.

Many accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, happen at the workplace. This is especially so for construction and manufacturing related businesses. When accidents happen, many people are affected. First and foremost are the workers who suffer from the accident, followed by their families. Companies suffer too in terms of production, reputation, and in many cases, legally as well when they get sued or are forced to pay claims for damages, etc.

In Singapore, the primary government body tasked to oversee workers’ safety and health at the workplace is the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC). One of their most important tools for ensuring the safety and health at workplaces is bizSAFE, which is a combination of the words “business” and “safe”.

BizSAFE is a program that is broken down into 5 major steps, which helps Singaporean companies – particularly small and medium scale enterprises – to achieve optimal safety and health conditions in their workplaces.

Enterprise Benefits

Why should businesses enroll for the bizSAFE program? It’s because of the numerous benefits attached to it, foremost of which are those that accrue to the business or enterprise itself. The primary enterprise benefit of enrolling under the program is that the enterprise’s workplace becomes a very safe and healthy one. And when the enterprise achieves such a high level of workplace safety and health, their competitive edge over competitors who aren’t enrolled in the program will become even greater in different ways.

One is in the area of manpower. When industry specialists know that an enterprise takes care of their workers’ health and safety at the workplace so much more than the rest of the pack, they’ll be more inclined to work for that enterprise.

Another area of competitive edge for the enterprise are the customers. In this day and age where consumers are very particular about corporate social responsibility when it comes to choosing which businesses to patronize, having the distinction of having completed all of the program’s 5 steps can set an enterprise apart from the competition in the eyes of their market.

Lastly, government projects can be considered a goldmine for most small and medium scale businesses. When an enterprise is able to complete the program and become bizSAFE certified, it becomes eligible to bid for government-related projects, which can give it a very big financial boost!

Partner Benefits

When enterprises undergo the bizSAFE program and successfully complete it, it’s not just them who benefits. Their business partners do too! How?

Think of it this way. If a business’s workers regularly get into accidents or fall sick while in the workplace, what do you think will happen? That’s right, that company’s production will become inconsistent and may consequently suffer serious contractions in production levels. And when that happens, what do you think will happen to its customers, especially if they’re businesses that provide an end product to end consumers? Their production or ability to meet their own customers’ requirements may suffer too. Frequent workplace accidents and sicknesses can have ripple effects that may extend to an enterprise’s customers and even those customers’ end customers!

Not An Option

For businesses that want to continue enjoying great market share, the ability to get top-notch talent for their workforce, and stay very profitable, going through the bizSAFE program is neither something optional nor should be put off until the time is right. It should be considered mandatory and urgent!

Potential Dangers Of Facade Cleaning

“Danger hides in beauty and beauty in danger.”  – Belva Plain

Buildings are magnificent works of art and a source of great pride for people and companies that own them. It’s one thing to say “my house” and it’s a totally different one to say “my building” or “my company’s building”. There’s just something about having a building that draws in a lot of attention, admiration, and respect.

Because of that, it’s normal for building owners and managers to want to keep their buildings looking clean and beautiful. For this, regular facade cleaning is an essential part of maintenance because let’s face it, people do judge by appearances.

But your building’s beauty may come at a price – a dangerous price. Cleaning a multi-story building’s facade can pose substantial risks or dangers for the people doing the job and passing by on the street below.

Facade Cleaning Dangers

When cleaning your building’s facade, potential dangers that may materialize involve working from heights, using access equipment, using powered equipment, and weak or poor quality structures. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.

Compared to merely fixing a high ceiling or a rooftop, facade cleaning exposes workers to substantially more dangerous heights. Think of cleaning the windows of a 15-story building from the outside and you’ll see what I mean. Falling from such heights is almost always fatal given the force at which a person can hit the ground after falling from such high platforms.

Another serious potential danger to which your workers may be exposed to is when using access or climbing equipment such as cradles, scissor lifts, and ladders in order to go up and down your building’s facade. The higher the building, the higher the risk will be. That’s why if your company’s workers are the ones cleaning the building’s facade, you must invest in very high-quality access equipment to minimize accidents emanating from faulty or defective equipment.

A related danger is the use of fragile structures that may collapse at any given moment, which can send your workers plunging down to serious injuries or worse, to their deaths. In particular, makeshift scaffoldings are a big no-no, which means it’s mandatory that you buy or rent top quality scaffoldings from reputable suppliers for the sake of your workers and the innocent pedestrians below.

Lastly, using powered equipment for cleaning difficult facade surfaces can also be a source of accident risk for your workers and consequently, the pedestrians below. Such risks involve electrocution, explosion, and accidental drop from high locations. If your workers will be using powered equipment, better make sure that such equipment is securely fastened or tied to the platform or scaffolding to ensure that even in the event your workers accidentally drop them, they won’t fall because those are tied to the platform or scaffolding.

Prevention Always Trumps Cure

Before embarking on a facade cleaning campaign for your building or a building you’re managing, it’s crucial that you identify the major risks your workers and pedestrians below may be exposed to. More importantly, you should come up with practical and implementable risk mitigation measures to address them. It may prove to be quite cumbersome at first but believe me, it’ll be worth it. It’ll cost you more in terms of resources and man-hours an accident happens while your workers are cleaning the facade of your building.

But if you don’t want the hassle of doing all the dirty work and you have the budget, why not outsource it instead? You can hire reputable companies such as Asretec to do the dirty work for you. While it may cost you more compared to doing it yourself, you can in effect transfer all the risks to them while getting the facade of your building cleaned regularly.

Why Getting Trained In Confined Space Entry And Rescue Is Important

“There is no darkness like that of a confined space.” – Lauren De Stefano, Fever

When it comes to occupational safety, working in confined spaces is one of the riskiest activities workers can be involved in. Why? Before going into that, let’s first define what a confined space is.

What Is Confined Space?

It’s easy to think of a confined space as a place that’s merely closed such as a tunnel or a room. They’re not. Confined spaces aren’t about a particular place or space’s physical dimensions, but are determined by the hazards or risks that people working in such places face. As such, we can consider confined spaces as those that present foreseeable risks for:

  • Asphyxiation arising from free-flowing solid materials;
  • Drowning due to flooding;
  • Serious injuries that can arise from an explosion or fire; or
  • Workers losing consciousness due to significant increases in body temperature, or from asphyxiation due to lack of air and presence of vapors, fumes, and gasses.

Such places include but aren’t limited to:

  • Boreholes;
  • Building voids;
  • Culverts;
  • Ducts;
  • Hutches;
  • Inspection pits;
  • Manholes;
  • Sumps;
  • Tanks;
  • Tunnels

The Need For Training

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified work activities conducted in confined spaces as one of the major contributors to work-related deaths in the United States. To be more specific, this is due to most workers’ ignorance of confined spaces’ work-related risks and how to manage and address them when they happen. That’s why in countries like the United States, employers are compelled to give their employees adequate safety and risk management training to ensure their safety, especially when working in confined spaces.

When it comes to fatal confined space accidents, the 2 biggest factors are poor risk management and erroneous response to confined space emergencies. Often times, the latter makes things worse because instead of easing the situation, rescuers contribute to injuries or they themselves get into accidents in an attempt to rescue colleagues.

Training programs should emphasize risk management first (i.e. risk identification and mitigation). Prevention is truly better than a cure and in terms of preventing the likelihood of confined space accidents, training programs need to educate workers and management on the major risks involved with working in confined spaces. This is so that they’ll be in the best position to implement measures and install the necessary equipment or fixtures that can significantly reduce the possibility of identified potential accidents from happening.

Since risks can’t be totally eliminated. Training programs must also include “cures” or the ability to manage accidents, contain its effects, address injuries on the spot, and evacuate injured workers from the scene as quickly and safely as possible.

Get Trained!

If you or your company are involved in regular work activities in confined spaces, getting trained for entering and rescuing people in confined spaces is crucial because working in confined spaces is one of the top causes of workplace fatalities. The only way to win the war against confined space accidents and keep yourself and your people as safe as possible is to know your enemy – the risks involved – so that you can employ a 2-punch knockout system of risk minimization and effective risk containment via entry and rescue.