Nail guns are commonly found on construction sites and account for a high number of hand and foot injuries every year. Many of these injuries occur as workers are climbing ladders, and most are attributed to multi-shot contact trigger nail guns. While hand and foot injuries are the most commonly reported injuries, there are multiple recorded cases of nail gun injuries to the skull.
OSHA reports 37,000 emergency room visits for nail gun injuries each year.
Nail guns are powerful pneumatic tools. These injuries can cause ligament damage, tissue damage, bone damage, and serious infection. Head injuries can lead to blindness, deafness, mental impairment, paralysis, and death.
It is imperative that carpenters and construction workers know how to safely operate nail guns. The full sequential trigger nail gun is the safest available, as this trigger requires a specific sequence of activation controls to discharge. The safety tip must be firmly pressed against a surface and the trigger must be squeezed. The trigger must be released and reactivated for the gun to discharge another nail. There is no automatic discharge of nails without squeezing the trigger for each nail.
Contact trigger guns, on the other hand, will fire when the controls are activated in any order. Thus, the user can squeeze the trigger and then depress the contact against the surface to discharge a nail, or the user can first depress the contact against a surface, and then squeeze the trigger. If the user continues to hold the trigger in the squeezed/activation position, a nail will discharge each time the contact is depressed against a surface. This is known as bump-firing.
Single sequential trigger nail guns operate similar to the full sequential, in that the controls must be activated in a specific order. The difference between these nail guns is that the single sequential trigger is that the contact does not have to be moved and re-depressed against the surface to discharge another nail; rather, only the trigger must be released and reactivated to discharge sequential nails. This trigger does not allow bump-firing of nails.
The single actuation trigger nail gun operates by pushing the safety contact, squeezing the trigger, and depressing the contact tip against a surface. Multiple nails can be discharged by releasing the trigger, moving the tool, and squeezing the trigger again, without releasing the safety contact tip.
Workers are frequently injured as a result of double-fire or unintended discharge of a nail (unintended sequential discharge of a nail or accidental contact of the tip with a surface), puncture resulting from penetration of a nail through a piece of lumber, ricochet of a nail off a knot in the wood or contact with some other hard surface, and even missing the intended target altogether. Construction workers often find themselves manipulating around tight corners and awkward angles, which can lead to injury.
Proper training, mandatory PPE (including hard hats), and established nail gun work procedures are critical in protecting your construction crew. Nail guns are a valuable tool at the work site, but pose a high degree of risk and require skill for safe operation. Use the right tool for the job, but be knowledgeable, be alert, and be prepared.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
May is Electrical Safety Month
Lumberyards are a specialty risk with multiple hazards. These exposures typically have a retail storefront which is open to heavy pedestrian traffic and stock multiple small quantity containers of chemicals – household cleaners, paints and thinners, adhesives, pesticides, fertilizers – and solvents.
Most lumberyards have multiple buildings on site for storage of lumber, doors, windows, plywood, fencing, and other building materials. Warehouse areas are stocked with insulation, drywall, flooring, plumbing and electrical supplies, and palletized goods. The outbuildings may be of an open-face lean-to design or a T-shed design, and are often constructed of metal. Load-bearing frame may be either wood or steel.
Forklifts are standard equipment for reaching and moving lumber from one location to another. Tractors and small loaders may be used on the property. Diesel tanks and propane tanks are located on these properties, which require proper containment and protection. Some lumberyards fill or exchange propane tanks, while others store only spare tanks for forklift use.
Many lumberyards cut boards to customer specs. Others routinely build and sell doghouses and storage sheds. Most of these cutting operations involve table saws, chop saws, and panel saws which are located in the outbuildings. Sometimes there is a designated building for all cutting operations, while other times, saws are located throughout the property. Extension cord use is common. All buildings where cutting operations are performed typically have a dedicated electrical panel, which may or may not be in good repair.
Lumberyards frequently also rent equipment to their customers. This may include trucks, car haulers, trailers, small loaders and trenchers, portable scaffolding, lawn and garden equipment, power washers, and more. Rental agreements should be used, and should require written acknowledgment from the customer customer that operational instructions were received for the rented equipment.
Some critical considerations for lumberyard safety include:
- Fire extinguishers should be placed in readily available areas of all buildings
- Fuel tanks should be protected from traffic and properly contained
- Saws should be inspected regularly for missing guards and frayed cords
- Extension cord use should be kept to a minimum, and saws should be disconnected when not in use
- Eye and ear protection should be required of all personnel performing wood shop duties
- Masks and gloves should be provided
- Ladders should be inspected routinely and damaged ladders retired
- Protective footwear should be worn.
By no means is the above list exhaustive. Lumberyard employees are exposed to multiple hazards on a daily basis. Formal safety procedures are critical in controlling exposures in this industry, where injuries can range from minor laceration to fatal electrocution.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Crane & rigging operations are highly regulated by OSHA, and safety begins long before any equipment arrives on-site. Contracts have been negotiated and signed. Equipment has been certified prior to transport. Certified operators and signal persons have been hired. Safety is a tremendous responsibility, and has been delegated to the General Contractor or Superintendent. Safety Programs are reviewed, and Safety Plans are coordinated among subcontractors. Site Specific Safety Plans are developed and approved, and Crane Safety Plans (including specific Lift Plans) are developed to address crane safety at each step of the job. Our crane and rigging customers have the most detailed safety plans we encounter. Safety is a critical concern at every level, and requires the involvement of architects and engineers.
As with any construction project, site safety defines access and security of a site and equipment security. Due to their size, crane and rigging operations pose special considerations for protecting adjacent properties. Site terrain, securement of equipment, weather assessment, weight and load parameters, arrangement and inspection of rigging equipment all impact a safe lift.
Transportation, erection, and dismantling of cranes present their own concerns. High axle loads and positioning of equipment can create high ground pressures impacting stability. Professional engineers are required to assess the impact of numerous factors on equipment to assure safety during each stage of crane erection, dismantling, and transport.
Safety is an obvious priority in this highly regulated and high risk industry, and requires detailed documentation compliance. Safety programs and plans should be readily accessible on-site. A safety coordinator should be designated to maintain all documentation. A safety trailer should be established and should contain first aid and extra PPE. Communication between the GC, contractors, managers, supervisors, workers, and vendors is critical. Clear lines of responsibility must be drawn, and coordination of all parties is essential to project safety. Safe, professional management of the job site substantially reduces the risk of catastrophic incident.
Honoring the Fallen from a visit to the International Towing Museum
I’m a bit of a car-gal, and a bit of a workaholic, so it’s no surprise I found myself visiting the International Towing Museum on a recent trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was aware of the organization through my work within the industry, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pop in while I was in the area.
I found a tremendous amount of history located in this little building. The museum houses vintage tow trucks from various eras, some old gas and air pumps, and other memorabilia. They even have interactive vehicles in the lobby to entertain the kids.
More humbling, the organization has a dedicated Wall of the Fallen which serves as tribute to those who lost their lives in the performance of their duties. These drivers respond to service calls at all times of day or night, in all weather conditions. Too often, the industry as a whole is taken for granted. This wall is a great reminder of the hazards facing this industry.
In addition to common driver injuries like strain/sprain and laceration (including severed fingers), and sleep deprivation, these drivers are subject to more serious – and often fatal – injuries. On-site risks include caught-between, crushed, or struck by vehicles. Struck by injuries may include being struck by boom or tow bar, being completely or partially (leg) rolled over by a moving truck, being pinned between a car and tow truck, and being struck by passing traffic. Snapping cables can cause arm, torso, or head injuries. Inclement weather and lighting often contribute to the risk of injury.
Emergency response workers face environmental hazards beyond their control on a daily basis. Weather conditions and road conditions vary by day, time, and location. Formal employee training and development procedures coupled with sound safety practices are critical in controlling the work process and assuring site safety for all.
Does your towing company have formal training and safety procedures in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
MOVE OVER, SLOW DOWN, AND USE THAT TURN SIGNAL!
APRIL IS DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS MONTH
I am a road warrior, and I see it all: texting, talking, eating, fighting, shaving, reading, writing, applying makeup, changing, dancing . . . you name it, I’ve seen it behind the wheel, driving down the road. Driving has now been relegated as one more item to multi-task in our busy schedules. Whether you are a home healthcare provider or a logistics and transportation company, behind the wheel is not the place for your drivers to multi-task.
Before the advent of cell phones, we were taught to drive attentively, scanning the road before you, checking mirrors for what is behind and beside you. Being aware of your surroundings is half the battle and allows drivers to be prepared for sudden stops, approaching cars in the blind spot, unannounced lane changes, and approaching emergency vehicles.
Driving distractions can be reduced to three categories:
Visual: Texting, emailing, map reading, checking makeup, talking with people in the backseat via the mirror, gawking at emergency vehicles or accidents. Cell phones, in particular, create large visual distractions.
Manual: Texting, emailing, dialing a phone number, programming GPS addresses, reaching for radio temperature controls, adjusting seats and mirrors, combing your hair, shaving, eating, jotting a quick note, reaching for dropped items – Anything that ties up your hands falls into this category.
Cognitive: A car full of teenagers. Loud music. Audio books. You overslept. Homework was forgotten until the last minute. Flat tire. The water heater finally died. Your mind is on so many other things. If you’re already running behind, you likely will not recoup more than 1 to 2 minutes by rushing in the car. Take a deep breath, shake it off, and focus on your surroundings. There is no better time to appreciate the natural beauty around you than one of these mornings.
Safety Tips for Commercial Drivers in Missouri
First and foremost, PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Toss it in the back seat, lock it in the glove box, or (gasp!) turn it off …whatever it takes to eliminate the distraction. If you’re like me and rely on your GPS app, use a dash mount so you’re not fumbling with the phone or looking down, and program your directions before you take off. Activate the Do Not Disturb function on your phone so you don’t receive notifications while driving. It’s always preferable to pull off the road to talk or text. If you have to drive and talk, use a Bluetooth speaker or headset so you can do so hands-free. Just remember – even talking is distracting.
Consciously challenge yourself to keep your dominant hand on the wheel: If you are right-handed, drive with your right hand on the wheel at all times – consciously choose not to check text or email notifications or use the phone. You’ll be surprised how effective this little trick can be.
Talk with your teen about the responsibility of driving attentively, and teach good driving habits by example. There is no room for aggression and rage on our roads, and kids learn more from our actions than our words. Practice what you teach.
Safe Driving Policies for Missouri Businesses
Pull out that driving policy and give it a review. Confirm that the policy requires all occupants of company vehicles to wear seat belts and bans the use of handheld cell phones. Equip your vehicles with hands-free technology. Require drivers to pull off the road to use phones or text. Be specific about your expectations, and reinforce these expectations by incorporating them into safety meeting discussions.
Whatever it takes, put the phone down, observe the speed limit, slow down for work zones, move over for emergency vehicles, and use that turn signal. Each of us has the power to make the road a safer place – one driver at a time. Contact us for help reviewing and developing sound policies today.