Abrasive Tools

Portable grinders are one of the most potentially dangerous tools on any work site.  The majority of injuries associated with portable grinder use are foreign bodies to the eyes and lacerations to the hands and body. These injuries typically result from the improper selection of tools, improper use or operation of tools, failure to utilize the correct personal protective equipment, improper abrasive/grinding wheel selection, improperly inspected and maintained equipment or using equipment without proper guarding.

Safe Practices and Behaviors

  • Choose the right tool to protect you and others from the potential dangers of portable grinders. 
  • Inspect the grinder for damage, guard placement and abrasive wheel compatibility.
  • Do not use a grinder without a protective guard. The safety guard must cover the spindle end, nut and flange projections and be of sufficient strength to retain fragments in case of accidental breakage.  The maximum angular exposure of the grinding wheel periphery and sides shall not exceed 180 degrees. There are specific requirements depending on wheel type (see chapter 807)
  • Check grinder discs before each use for nicks, cracks, or other defects. Replace immediately if they are damaged.
  • Wear a proper face shield, eye protection and hearing protection during all grinding operations.  Use a respirator when required.
  • Ensure that grinder discs are matched to the RPM rating of the grinder. A low-RPM disc may shatter on a high-RPM grinder.
  • Ensure grinder discs are used and matched to the materials for which they are intended.  Discs may shatter if used on incompatible materials.  Make sure type and size of wheel matches grinder size and guard.
  • Handle grinders carefully. If dropped, inspect the grinder and disc right away for damage.
  • Always test start a new wheel where it can do no harm to yourself or others.
  • Use only the zone specified for grinding on each wheel.
  • Never bump the abrasive wheel against the surface to be ground or lay the grinder down while the abrasive wheel is turning.  Doing so may fracture or weaken the wheel resulting in it disintegrating into multiple projectiles.
  • Keep a solid two-handed grip on the grinder and position the work or yourself so the surface to be ground and the grinder are within your ability to control.  Grinders 4 inches or larger require use of side handles.
  • Work from a stable surface to assist with your efforts to control the torque and kick back generated by the grinder.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

  

Questions for Discussion

  • Is the tool the right size for the job?  Can a smaller lighter more maneuverable tool be substituted for a heavier less maneuverable one?
  • Is the correct personal protective equipment available and are you prepared to use it accordingly?
  • Is there a stable slip free working surface from which to work? 

Aerial Lift Safety

Elevating Work Platforms

The major causes of injuries and fatalities involving elevating work platforms are falls, electrocutions, collapses and tip-overs.

  • Aerial Lifts
  • Manually propelled elevating work platforms that cannot be positioned completely beyond the base
  • Self-propelled elevating work platforms that have a platform that cannot be positioned completely beyond the base
  • Boom-supported elevating work platforms that have a boom-supported platform that can be positioned completely beyond the base

Safe work practices

  • Only trained operators are allowed to use aerial lifts
  • Conduct a pre-job inspection of equipment and surroundings.
  • Ensure that platforms used to elevate workers are in good condition and meet the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Provide workers with necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ensuring effective use.
  • Only use elevating platforms which have been built to safe specifications

Before and During Use

  • You must set the brakes and make sure outriggers , when used, are positioned on pads or a solid surface
  • You must install wheel chocks when using the aerial lift on an incline if they can be installed safely.

Moving an Aerial Lift

You must make sure that the boom is properly cradled and the outriggers are in the stowed position before moving the aerial lift. EXEMPTION: The aerial lift may be moved with the boom elevated and personnel on the platform only if the equipment was specifically designed for this type of purpose.

Conducting Work from the Platform

WAC 296-869-20045

  • You must make sure boom and platform load limits specified by the manufacturer are not exceeded.
  • You must make sure that persons stand firmly on the floor of the platform and do NOT: sit or climb on the edge of the platform, or, use guardrails, planks, ladders, or any other device to gain additional height or reach
  • You must prohibit wearing climbers with working from the platform
  • You must make sure all persons on the platform wear a full body harness with a lanyard attached to either: the manufacturer’s recommended attachment point, the boom or platform if the manufacturer does not specify an attachment point.
  • You must never attach a lanyard to an adjacent pole, structure, or equipment

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What is the best way to protect workers below or around the lift? 

Air Tools

Air tools offer a great way to increase productivity on the job-site.  Jack hammers impact wrenches, chipping hammers and nail guns are common air tools on many job sites.  Commonly used air tools create risk and must be used properly.

Working with Air Tools

  • Never discharge an airline towards another worker.
  • Treat all tools as loaded while they are connected to an airline.
  • Never use a tool that is missing a guard or safety feature.
  • Always wear proper PPE when using the tool. 100% eye protection.
  • Remove from service and “red tag” defective tools. 
  • Disconnect the tool from the compressed air supply and bleed off excess air before repairs are done.  This should include turning off the air at the source at all connections.
  • Tools shall be secured to the hose or whip by some positive means to prevent the tool from becoming accidentally disconnected.
  • Air hoses with inside diameters greater than ½ inch must have safety devices to reduce pressure.
  • Always consult the tool manufacturer for additional safety concerns.
  • Never lower a hose by use of the air line.
  • Never use compressed air to clean yourself off

If it is necessary to use compressed air for cleaning, always reduce the pressure to 30 psi or less and proper chip guarding.  See Chapter 296-807 for actual requirements for hand held portable power tools, circular saws, belt sanders, compressed air tools, powder actuated fastening systems; as well as portable hand or power-operated hydraulic jacks, mechanical or ratchet jacks, and mechanical screw jacks.

Chapter 296-807 does not apply to:

  • Concrete vibrators
  • Concrete breakers
  • Powered tampers
  • Jack hammers
  • Rock drills
  • Garden appliances
  • Household and kitchen appliances
  • Personal care appliances
  • Medical and dental equipment
  • Fixed machinery

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for discussion

  • What can happen if an airline becomes disconnected?
  • What is the danger of not having the muzzle in contact with a surface?

Asbestos

It is a misconception that most or all asbestos has been eliminated from buildings.   It might be surprising that asbestos has been found in buildings built in the 1990’s and later.   Awareness of asbestos is important.

Asbestos Uses

  • Asbestos was used as a building component for its insulating and fireproofing characteristics. 
  • Asbestos can be found in vinyl flooring, roofing, insulation, popcorn ceilings, window and wallboard systems of older buildings and some not so old. 
  • Asbestos was used with the Wicked Witch of the West’s broom and fake snow in movies.

Problems With Asbestos

  • Fibers are small enough to lodge in the lung cavities and surrounding organs by inhalation or ingestion. 
  • Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer. Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen. Mesothelioma has no known cure.
  • Asbestos exposure may also increase the risk of asbestosis, an inflammatory condition affecting the lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, permanent lung damage, and other nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders.
  • Asbestos latency period is 10 to 30 years.  An exposed worker to asbestos may have no adverse effects for 30 years.

Working With Asbestos

  • Before any demolition or remodel activities are done, you are required to obtain a written asbestos statement from the building’s owner or owner’s agent. Older buildings are very suspect to asbestos as they may have hidden building materials due to remodels.
  • If there is any accidental disturbance of asbestos containing material or suspect material, work must be stopped and an assessment made. Surveys can only be performed by a certified Asbestos Building Inspector.

Important note: If you are working in conditions where you may encounter asbestos, a two-hour awareness training is required. WAC 296-62-07722. This awareness training does not prepare someone to do any work with asbestos.

If you see unusual building materials, contact your supervisor. It may be asbestos.  The more you involve yourself, the more you will be able to recognize asbestos.


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion 

  • Do you know anyone who has been affected by asbestos?
  • Have you found suspect materials on any of your job-sites?

Avoiding Falls From Vehicles

Every year hundreds of people risk serious injury falling from vehicles. This talk sets out the basic steps you can take to prevent falls while loading and unloading vehicles.

Causes of Falls

  • Slipping and falling from loads and access steps and ladders
  • Broken ropes or torn sheets causing overbalancing
  • Inappropriate footwear
  • Lack of awareness and training

What do I Need to Do?

  • As with all work at height, there are basic steps you should take to reduce the chances of people falling and being injured.
  • If you can avoid the need for work at height then do so.
  • When you can’t avoid working at height you must take steps to prevents falls.
  • If there are any remaining risks of falls you should take steps to minimize them.

Safety Checklist

Addressing the issues covered in the following checklist you will be going a long way towards tackling the problem of falls from vehicles.

  • Always use all equipment provided to avoid work at height if available.
  • Don’t jump from vehicles or loads.
  • Report damaged, loose or inadequate steps and handholds - ensure that steps are safe for you to use.
  • Report slippery surfaces, for example those that are oily or greasy.
  • Keep the vehicle clean and free of loose debris - avoid creating tripping hazards.
  • Wear suitable footwear for the job.
  • Ensure steps and work areas are well lit.
  • Use edge protection on tail-lifts (where it is fitted).
  • Do not walk backwards near the rear or side of the vehicle bed.
  • Only use equipment such as ropes, straps, curtains, sheets, nets etc if you are sure it is well maintained and is in a good state of repair.

Following these basic steps will make you more aware of your own safety as well as the safety of others when working on or around vehicles.


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Before working in or on a vehicle, do you consider how to do it safely?
  • What can you do to reduce the chances of falling from the vehicle you are working on?


Back Protection

Back injury is one of the leading causes of lost-time or restricted duty in the workplace and can lead to years of discomfort and disability.  A back injury can be cumulative, as a result of repetitive motion over time, or acute due to a sprain or muscle pull, for example.

Factors that Contribute to Cumulative Back Injury

  • The amount of repetitive motion
  • The maximum lifting load
  • The duration the load is to be carried
  • The body height, weight, strength and gender 
  • The position of the body to the load when lifting or carrying

Tips to Help Avoid Back Injury

Every industry and work environment presents its own unique back safety

hazards.  Some jobs require a lot of lifting, while other jobs require a lot of sitting.

  • Wear back braces if required to lift and carry heavy loads or if the back needs to be supported for long periods.
  • Avoid twisting and turning; use legs to position and move the torso. Move the work area closer to avoid unnecessary twisting and reaching.
  • Avoid leaning or bending over for extended periods.  This causes fatigue and weakness in the lower back over time.
  • Stretch and exercise the back before starting work each day.
  • Inspect the work area for slip, trip and fall hazards.
  • Inspect steps and stairs before climbing; use handrails whenever available.
  • Lift with the legs.  Position the body so the load is centered and supported by the body before lifting and carrying.
  • Seek alternative work methods or rotating schedules if repetitive motion and sustained lifting are causing back discomfort or pain.
  • Avoid sudden jerks and pulls on a load that could cause a muscle sprain or herniated disc.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What activities exist in your workplace that could cause back injury?
  • What can be done in your work area to minimize causes for back injury? 

Bucket Trucks

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics, some 30 workers die each year from using aerial lifts.

IMPORTANT: Only trained and authorized persons are allowed to operate an aerial lift.  The authorized person must conduct a pre-start inspection prior to each work shift to verify that the equipment and all of its components are in safe operating condition.

This discussion will outline some general safety rules for bucket trucks.

General Rules

  • Personal fall arrest systems must be used when using bucket trucks.
  • Ensure that access gates or openings are closed.
  • Do not climb on or lean over guardrails or handrails.
  • Do not use planks, ladders, or other devices as a working position.
  • Do not belt-off to adjacent structures or poles while in the bucket.
  • Do not exceed the load-capacity limits.
  • Do not use the aerial lift as a crane.
  • Do not carry objects larger than the platform.
  • Do not operate lower level controls unless permission is obtained from the worker(s) in the lift (except in emergencies).
  • Do not operate an aerial lift in high winds above those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Do not override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices.
  • Be aware of overhead clearance and overhead objects, including ceiling.
  • Do not position aerial lifts between overhead hazards if possible.
  • Ensure that the power utility or power line workers de-energize power lines in the vicinity of the work.
  • You must maintain a clearance of at least 10 feet from overhead high voltage power lines.
  • Do not use the bucket to push objects.

Specific Rules for Bucket Trucks

  • Ensure that the boom is properly cradled and the outriggers are in the stowed position before moving the truck.
  • In order to utilize the truck for highway travel, all elevating structures must be secured in the lower traveling position by the locking device on top of the truck cab and the manually operated device at the base of the ladder.  
  • The brakes shall be set and when outriggers are used, they shall be positioned on pads or a solid surface. Wheel chocks shall be placed before using the bucket on an incline.
  • A bucket truck shall not be moved when the boom is elevated in a working position with workers in the basket.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion 

  • What are some things to consider when setting up the outriggers?
  • What times would be appropriate to use delineators or caution tape?

Building a Safety Culture

Safety culture is the way in which safety is managed in the workplace, and reflects the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values that employers and employees share in relation to safety. Every organization has a safety culture. The question is whether the safety culture is what we want it to be. If the culture is not what we want it to be, what can we do to change it. 

Positive Safety Culture

  • Communication is open at all levels of the organization and feedback is seen as vital to improving safety processes. 
  • Individuals at all levels focus on what can be done to prevent injuries or illnesses. 
  • There is a commitment to safety regardless of all other concerns. 
  • People and their well-being are valued. The focus is on protecting people, not the bottom line. 
  • All personnel, especially supervisors, demonstrate their commitment to safety by following all safety processes and procedures, as they instruct their employees to do. 

Negative Safety Culture

  • Communication is not open at all levels; employees do not openly communicate with upper management and employers do not communicate with employees. 
  • Safety rules are used to discipline employees. 
  • Management may not follow safety rules. 
  • Production demands require less focus on safety. 
  • Management’s concern is not for the well being of the employees, but rather for a good safety record. 

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What kind of safety culture do we have on this site? 
  • What can our management team do to improve our safety culture? What can you do, individually, to improve our safety culture? 
  • If you could change one thing about our safety culture, what would it be? 

Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide gas is colorless, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating. It cannot be detected by any of the senses. Because it is not readily detected, employees can be exposed to very high levels without realizing there is a problem.  Here are some statistics.

Annually in the USA

  • Tens of thousands of people seek medical attention or lose several days, weeks and months of normal activity from CO exposure
  • Over 40,000 emergency department visits for CO poisoning
  • More than 450 people die through unintentional CO exposure (CDC)
  • As many as 2000 people die intentionally using CO (CDC)

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

  • Running a “jumping jack” in a trench
  • Saw cutting or pressure washing indoors
  • Confined spaces along heavily traveled roads
  • Burning wood, paper or plastic products
  • Welding when carbon dioxide shielding gas is used
  • Propane space heaters
  • Forklifts indoors

Precautions to Ensure Air Quality

  • Equip compressors with suitable air-purifying filters, water traps, and sorbents
  • Monitor activity around work the area which may affect air quality
  • Bump test air monitoring equipment and follow manufacturers recommendations
  • Look for signs and symptoms in workers. (shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and dizziness)
  • If gas fired machinery is used indoors, ensure air quality

At lower levels, people sometimes mistake the symptoms of CO exposure for the flu, or do not associate their severe headache and nausea with carbon monoxide exposure.  Carbon monoxide is serious and deserves our attention.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms

Concentration Symptoms
35 ppm (0.0035%) 8 hour PEL for,WA State Headache and dizziness within,six to eight hours of constant exposure
100 ppm (0.01%) Slight headache in two to three hours
200 ppm Slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment
400 ppm Severe headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, can be life-threatening after 3 hours of,exposure
800 ppm (0.08%) Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours
1,600 ppm (0.16%) Headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours
6,400 ppm (0.64%) Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Convulsions, respiratory arrest, and death in less than 20 minutes

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Have you ever had an unaccounted headache during the workday?
  • Do you know of someone who has had CO poisoning? 

Chainsaws for Construction

Chainsaws used for construction use must be equipped with all guards and safety devices in good working condition, including throttle interlock and chain brake. Prior to using an electric or gasoline-powered chainsaw, personnel must be qualified to operate the saw and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safe operating procedures

Procedures

  • Permit only trained and experienced workers to operate a chainsaw.
  • Saw inspection, inspect and correct any defects prior to use.
  • Never walk around with a saw that is running. Switch off the power source.
  • When repositioning, never hold your finger on the trigger.
  • Do not attempt to cut anything other than wood with a chainsaw.  Avoid contact with nails, piping, or other objects.

What to Wear When Operating a Chainsaw

  •  Safety glasses
  •  Face shield
  •  Hearing protection
  •  Chaps – sewn in Kevlar protective pads provide protection to the legs
  •  Heavy duty work boots
  •  Head protection when exposed to overhead hazards

Chainsaw Operation

  • Hold the saw securely with both hands, with fingers and thumbs around the handles. This helps prevent the hands from being dislodged and provides control in the event of a kickback.
  • Do not operate the saw when you are tired.
  • Know where the bar tip is at all times.
  • Do not allow the cut to bind on the saw chain.
  • Make sure the chain brake is functioning.

Kick-back is the most common and danger with chain saws.  This occurs when contact is made in the “kickback” zone.  Contact in this zone makes the chain bunch up and try to climb out of the cutting track. This often happens when the saw tip makes contact with something beyond the cutting area, such as a tree branch, log or plank


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Where is the kick-back zone?
  • How do you approach a worker using a chain saw?

Circular Saws

Hospital emergency room visits account for approximately 10,600 visits annually due to improper usage of circular saws.

Important Safety Guidelines

  • Wear PPE (safety glasses and hearing protection).
  • While operating a saw, keep long hair tied back, do not wear loose clothing or jewelry.
  • Before the cut, set the depth of the saw to 1/8" thicker than material.
  • Prepare a stable surface to cut material on. Never cut on your knee.
  • Never alter a manufacturer’s guard.
  • Blade guard should move freely to both the open and closed positions.
  • Never cut with a dull blade.
  • Always unplug the saw before you replace the blade.
  • Cut short material from long material first.
  • Stand to the side when cutting material. This position protects you from any potential kickback.
  • Hold the saw with two hands; one hand stabilizes the material to prevent the saw from moving and the other hand is on the saw.
  • After your cut, you can put the saw down.
  • Support large panels so they will not pinch the blade.
  • Beware of knots or sap in the wood and never remove the blade from the material while it is cutting.
  • Keep all electrical cords clear of the cutting path.
  • Do not twist the saw while cutting to change direction or saw alignment unless the blade is designed for that purpose.
  • Do not carry portable circular saws with hands or fingers on the trigger switch.
  • Keep the work area clean and free of debris and scraps to prvent stumbling or tripping.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion 

  • How can this tool hurt you?
  • How could you prevent it from happening?

Cold Weather Clothing

Construction workers can be exposed to extreme weather during the winter months. Cold weather can negatively affect a person’s senses; seeing, smelling, feeling. Productivity is difficult when a worker is cold. Therefore, it is important to choose clothing appropriate for the cold weather conditions.

  • Always dress in layers with the outer layers loose and the inner layers tighter. This will trap body heat.
  • Do not over bundle.
  • Use the outer layer of clothing as a windbreaker. This will make the layers underneath more effective.
  • Minimize sweat. If the worker gets hot, remove a layer of clothing.
  • Avoid getting your clothing wet. Once wet, the clothing will not serve as a good protection from the cold.
  • Wear head protection. This will increase your overall warmth. Over half of the body’s heat loss comes from the head.
  • Be sure to properly protect your feet. Unless you are moving around, your feet will feel the effects of the cold first. Wool socks help, but 4-buckle overshoes can provide better protection.
  • Gloves are very important. Most often a thin pair of wool gloves under a pair of leather gloves will provide the best protection. 

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What should you do if you begin to sweat in cold weather?
  • What body part loses the majority of the body’s heat? 

Common Safety Mistakes

Some of the most dangerous situations arise out of common mistakes that can be easily avoided. This Toolbox Talks will focus on some of the more common (and commonly overlooked) safety issues that should be prevented to help improve safety performance. 

Common mistakes

  • Lack of housekeeping: It may seem simple, but a messy or dirty work area makes for an unsafe work environment. Pallet banding lying on the ground, spilled oil and obstructed walkways all result in thousands of injuries each year. 
  • Not using Lockout / Tagouton equipment: Thousands of injuries are caused each year by the failure to lockout or tagoutequipment and machinery needing repair. Often times someone knew ahead of time that the equipment was not functioning properly. It is imperative to disable the equipment as soon as someone knows it is not functioning properly. This will ensure the equipment does not cause injury or an unsafe work environment. 
  • Improper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): It is a common, yet incorrect, practice to wear hard hats backwards, or to put hearing protection in improperly, or face shields that are scratched to the point where visibility is poor. 
  • Not having a process or plan: Most workplace injuries occur when work being done is not part of a normal process. It is important to have a work plan for non-process work. Sometimes such a plan is called a Task Specific Safety Plan. No matter how it is done, planning the work and asking “What if...?” questions will help identify hazards and implement controls to prevent injuries. 
  • Failure to communicate: One of the easiest things to prevent unsafe conditions is to discuss what hazards or unsafe acts have been noticed. Communicating the hazards and failures in processes is an essential element of protecting ourselves and our coworkers from the hazards that potentially exist in the workplace. 

All of these are examples of failures in the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is the last line of defense in protecting the employee. Therefore, the improper use of PPE, or failure to maintain and replace defective PPE, increases the likelihood of injury. 


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What is one common safety hazard you have encountered on the jobsite? 
  • Can you give an example of when you did not follow a process or plan and as a result created a safety hazard? 

Concrete Placement

Concrete is used on most construction sites. There are hazards resulting from the act of forming, placing and finishing concrete.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE must include heavy-duty waterproof gloves and slip-resistant boots. 
  • Gloves and boots need to be high or long enough to protect legs and arms.
  • While kneeling, knees must be protected. 
  • Safety glasses should be used to prevent concrete from splashing into the eyes.

Concrete Placement

  • Exercise caution while stepping on forms and tied rebar that may not support your weight. 
  • If using a concrete bucket, watch for pinch points. 
  • Maintain good communication with the concrete pump operator.
  • It is very common for the rebar caps to come off while placing the concrete.  If a cap fall of put it back.  Consider using saddles with 2 by 4’s instead of caps.
  • Concrete hides tripping hazards. Watch for trip hazards. 
  • When placing vertical concrete, use proper fall protection.

Finishing Concrete

  • Before using a bull float, check for overhead electrical hazards.  Some handles are over 20 feet long. 
  • Power trowels should have positive or dead man’s switches only. 
  • If chemical are used while finishing concrete, make sure you understand the hazards by reading the SDS.
  • If dried concrete is handled and dust is created, there might be a silica hazard.  This can happen during cutting without water, cleaning out lines using air hose, or by dry sweeping.  A respirator may be needed.
  • When pulling vertical forms, keep workers out of fall area.  Use warning signs. 

Remember: Concrete placement and finishing is hard work.  Be sure that you have hydrated yourself before you begin and during breaks.


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Have you ever had a burn from concrete?
  • What other hazards are present during concrete operations?

Concrete Pumping

Concrete pumping is an economical and efficient means of placing concrete on most jobs in the construction industry today. Every person on the job-site should understand the hazards that can occur when air is compressed in the hose. Following proper safety guidelines enables a safe, successful and profitable concrete pour.

Hose whipping accidents

Are one of the most common accidents associated with operating a concrete pump. Higher horsepower and pump pressures available in today's pumping equipment, air can momentarily be trapped, compressed, and then released in the delivery system causing hose whippings. Air can be introduced into the delivery system by various means:

  • When the pump is started initially
  • When restarting the pump after a move which allows the concrete level to fall below the valve
  • When removing a blockage or allowing concrete to free fall after the pump is shut off

To Avoid Hose Whipping Injury

  • All personnel should remain a prudent and reasonable distance from the end of the delivery line until air is exhausted from the system and concrete is free flowing.
  • If 10 feet of rubber hose is attached to a pipeline, personnel standing more than 10 feet away from the point of attachment are considered outside of the end-hose movement area.
  • Debris coming from the hose during release of trapped compressed air also can be a hazard, so personnel should always wear protection equipment such as a hard hat and eye protection.  
  • Do not allow air to be compressed.  Compressed air creates stored energy and creates a hazard.
  • When every person on the job understands what can occur when air is compressed in the hose and the proper precautions are made, a successful and profitable concrete pour results

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not forget to look for overhead lines before pumping concrete.

More information is available on the causes and effects of hose whipping accidents including a free PDF download of the ACPA's Safety Bulletin: Hose-Whipping Accidents


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What causes air in the lines?
  • What causes the pressure buildup?

Confined Spaces

A Confined Space

  • Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and  perform assigned work; and
  • Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit; and
  • Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. 
  •  Within a confined space there is a serious risk of death or injury from hazardous substances or conditions.  Some Confined Spaces are easy to identify (storage tanks, silos, enclosed drains, sewers, etc). Others are less obvious, but equally dangerous (open-topped chambers, vats, trenches, ductwork, and unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms).

The Dangers in a Confined Space

  • Lack of oxygen.
  • Poisonous gas, fumes or vapors.
  • The unexpected rush of liquids, gases or solids into a space.
  • Fire and explosions (from flammable vapors, excess oxygen, etc).
  • High concentrations of dust.
  • Extreme heat leading to dangerous increases in body temperature.
  • Mechanical or physical hazards
  • Loose materials that can engulf or smother

 Permit or Not

  • Confined spaces are categorized into two main groups: non-permit and permit-required. If a hazard exists or has the potential to exist, a written permit is required for entry.  Assume all confined spaces are permit required.
  • Although the danger in a confined space may be obvious, such as a mechanical hazard, the type of danger often is not. For example, a confined space with sufficient oxygen might become oxygen-deficient once a worker begins welding or performing other tasks.

Workers must be trained to work in all confined spaces.  This talk is not sufficient training for any confined space work.

Safety Tips

  • Can the work be done another way?
  • Make use of safe systems for working inside such spaces.
  • Harness workers to lifelines running to the outside of the space.
  • In any confined space use mechanical ventilation to improve airflow.
  • Use non-sparking tools and specially protected lighting where flammable or potentially explosive atmospheres are likely.
  • Never attempt to add oxygen into a confined space. This can greatly increase the risk of a fire or explosion.  

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What confined spaces do we have around our workplace?
  • Which are permitted?   Can any of the hazards within the confined space be removed?
  • Has the air been tested?  Is our ventilation system adequate?

Construction Material Salvage

Construction Material Salvage typically requires the deconstruction of a building in a way that preserves building materials for future reuse. The salvage of lumber, bricks, steel, windows, stone, floor coverings, ornamental items, etc. are common, if in good condition, for the reuse in new structures. It is becoming more necessary as virgin materials are more expensive. The reuse of salvaged materials also reduces unnecessary landfilling.

Potential dangers to conside

  • Respiratory – dirt, dust, mold, and mildew accumulated in old buildings can be an irritant to the lungs of construction workers, using dust masks or respirators is important. If gas powered equipment is being used inside the spaces, use equipment exhaust scrubbers with plenty of fresh air ventilation to all enclosed spaces where workers are present.
  • Overhead hazards & sharp objects – When deconstruction is occurring there are a wide range of hazards to look out for overhead, below, and all around. Sharp objects can result from the deconstruction process along with quickly changing conditions resulting in changes to the buildings structural integrity. Proceed with caution, look around, be sure there is a clear understanding of where co-workers are located at all times.
  • Other potential hazards – Even when phase II environmental site assessments have taken place there can periodically be new signs of lead- based paint and/or asbestos that shows up in the layers of old construction. If there are any signs of old insulation, black mastic, 9x9” VCT floor tiles, etc. that look suspicious, ask for a supervisor to look before continuing work.

Material Handling – The primary hazards of concern are heavy lifting, overexertion, and sharp objects that could cut, or puncture construction workers if not safely removed and cleaned prior to handling.

Scheduling – Be sure clear and concise planning is being implemented and communicated in a way that reduces unnecessary hazards from construction workers. Use heavy equipment as much as possible at the beginning to minimize hazards to those doing work by hand.

Air Quality – In some cases, air quality monitoring may be required to ensure protection of the construction workers and to provide documentation that proper safety protocol was implemented.

Reference:  Respiratory Protection: WAC 296-842 and 296-155-775V Part “S” Demolition


Presenter Tips

  • Pre-read the Tool Box Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Tool Box Talk relevant to your jobsite.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion. Funding and support for this project has been provided by the State of Washington, Department of Labor & Industries.

Questions for Discussion

  • Why is it important to worker safety? Which trades need to participate?
  • Who is responsible for oversight?
  • What equipment & materials are involved? How is it communicated & monitored?
  • How is it measured & reported?

 

Construction Pollution Prevention

Construction Activity Pollution Prevention requires a lot of coordination and onsite management lending itself to potential overlap and collaboration opportunities between sustainability and safety. There are a number of parallels between safety supervision and construction activity pollution prevention that can make a jobsite and the surrounding community safer.

The following are a few examples:

  • Jobsite safety walks for exterior construction activities
  • Trip and fall protection during exterior groundwork and construction
  • Prevention of exposure to chemicals from leaks / spills
  • Dust control to keep particulates out of airways
  • Air quality associated with equipment emissions
  • Erosion and sedimentation control

Noise Exposure

The employer must have an annual training program for workers exposed to noise at or above an eight-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels and follow PPE standards.


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Why is this important?
  • Which trades require participation? How long is it in effect?
  • What equipment & materials are involved? How is it communicated & monitored?
  • How is it measured & reported?

Cool Roofing

Fall Protection 

All employees working on the roof should be tied off unless additional safety features such as a guardrail have been put into place.

Material Delivery

  • Placement – Where will the materials be delivered? How long will they remain in that location?  Where will the material be stored? Are there any trip hazards associated with storage/placement?
  • Point Loading – Roof structures can only withstand a specific weight load.  If we are dropping all of our material onto one location, has that location been designed to bear all of that extra weight?
  • Overhead Protection – Will work be taking place beneath the cool roofing installation? If so, what steps have we taken to prevent materials from falling off the roof and striking workers below? Do workers beneath the installation know that there is overhead work taking place? Do workers on the roof know there is work taking place below?
  • Hoisting – How will the materials be delivered? Will a crane drop them off? If so, are there pinch point concerns we have to worry about when rigging the material to the crane? Who will be responsible for landing and removing the materials?  Have they been properly trained to direct the crane operator?
  • Equipment Conveyance – What equipment will need to be delivered to the roof to install this system? How will those materials be delivered to the roof? Have we located a proper location to store equipment that will be required for the install?
  • Environmental Factors – Are we doing the installation during the winter? If so how are we dealing with rain/slip hazards? Is there a chance there may be ice on the roof? Additional environmental concerns include strong winds, lighting, and excessively hot days where workers on the roof are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion. 
  • WAC 296-155 – also chapters on ladders and scaffolds

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Where is it located?
  • Which trades may be in a new situation? How is it sequenced?
  • What equipment & materials are involved? How is it installed?
  • How is it operated & maintained

Crane Safety

This talk applies to all types of cranes, including mobile cranes, overhead or gantry cranes and jib cranes. It is important to understand the characteristics and methods to operate your crane safely. The U.S. Department of Labor cites an average of 82 deaths per year due to crane accidents at construction sites alone.

Crane Safety Tips

  • Know the load limitations of your crane and the weight of the load to be lifted. Do not move the load if the weight is uncertain.
  • When calculating the weight of the load, consider internal fluids or objects within the load that could increase the weight.
  • Evaluate the center of gravity of the load when attaching rigging.  A load with an offset center of gravity may not lift level or be stable and may exceed the capacity of the rigging.
  • Inspect the load for additional forces applied to it other than the vertical upward force of the crane, such as water, mud and wind. Unforeseen forces on the load could create a sudden jerk or impact on the crane and introduce more safety hazards.
  • Ensure rigging and cribbing is adequate to support the crane and the load.
  •  Ensure the crane able to move the load without tipping.  Inspect ground conditions, outriggers and weather before lifting a load.
  • Understand the reach and travel limits of the crane before moving the load to avoid extra handling, sudden stops and uncontrolled load swings.When lifting a load, avoid placing side loads on the crane.  This can cause the crane to be unstable and /or cause the load to swing.Never use the crane to pull or drag a load. This introduces frictional forces that could exceed the rated crane load capacity.
  • For heavy,  awkwardly-shaped loads or when conditions warrant, use tag lines to help guide the load.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What is the difference between a static and dynamic load? Which load is safer? 
  • What is the most dangerous safety hazard related to mobile cranes on this site?