How To Work Safely

This web site would never be complete without this page on how to work safely. I have been in the home building and remodeling occupation steadily since 1978. I have had some close calls but I do have all of my fingers and I don't limp. Having been a USN hospital corpsman I know what to do in case of an accident but I also know it is much better to prevent accidents. It is much better to know how to work safely and take the time to do so.

On the job my mind is on the task at hand. Because I tend to be so focused it is especially important for me to have a safety protocol that is part of my job environment and mindset. There are two parts to this protocol. The first is safely performing the task at hand, the second is establishing a safe work environment. Neither should be seen as added work, they are part of the job, the part that helps insure its timely completion.

What would you add to the page; How To Work Safely?

Here is an opportunity to pass along your job safety tip or tips. I am sure there are lots of do s and don't s I have left out, you can take up some of the slack.

How to work safely rules, no particular order.

Whenever there is a person in the crawl space or on the roof all job radios must be turned off.

Job radios cannot be so loud as to prevent the cry of "heads up!" from being heard.

Protect others who are on the job, as well as those on your own crew.
Before you drill, cut, or shoot nails into a partition, that being a floor, roof, or wall, make sure no-one is working or standing on the other side.

Practice courtesy, when working just as in driving courtesy promotes safety.

Don’t work mad, put the tools down and go sort it out. Count to ten. Do what ever your trick is, but don’t work mad.

Don’t work tired. The diminishing returns you get working tired will hurt your bottom line, in wrong measurements, doing things in the wrong order, and short cuts that look more attractive when you are tired. I have no doubt it is easier to hurt yourself on the job working tired.

Do not throw materials from a height unless the area you are throwing into is open and visible, or you have a spotter below to warn others of the hazard. When throwing materials position yourself to be able to cleanly release them, do not let yourself be entangled with something you throw from a height. Be mindful of the wind when handling materials when you are high and exposed. Do not let something you are holding become a sail.

Do not drape cords, ropes, or chains in a passage way.

Do not impede your exit.

Do not work over the heads of others unless their attention is on what you are doing, meaning they are assisting you.

Do not let others stand or pass below you when on a ladder, if they must get by suspend work till they are clear.

Don’t tie off to a vehicle, or set your ladder up on top of a vehicle.

When stepping onto or off of a roof have a spotter to mind you and your ladder.

The area below the eave that is below roof work is a hazard zone during work, have your spotter warn others of the hazard.

Rope off or board off open stair heads, shafts, and any other unfinished upper deck area where a person could possibly back off or walk off into space.

Do not set up your work station or walk to and from it below a section of unfinished overhead, that is an "unsheeted" roof or floor above.

Try to park on the same side of the street as the work, if you can’t, be double mindful of the hazard. Watch for very quiet cars, and for bikes, there are lots of them now.

Do not step on scrap wood or other scrap materials. Move it or simply go around it.

Torch rules.

Always be aware of your torch hose, and where it is.

Quench hot materials before you walk away from them, others do not know they are hot.

Never set the torch aside still lit, if it does not extinguish cleanly use one that does.

Suspend torch work for thirty minutes before leaving the job.

Use the striker, not a lighter.

Power tool rules.

The old saying is familiarity breeds contempt. The two people to be careful around on the job are the rookie who doesn’t know any better, and the old pro who thinks that fearlessly breaking the rules is in some way manly.

Remove all trigger stays from power tools.

Remove no guards, shields, or grounding prongs from power tools.

Do not operate broken or incomplete power tools.

Always be aware of your power cord, and where it is.

Always let power tools come to a stop before you set them down.

NEVER leave anything on top of a folding ladder.

NEVER leave anything balanced on top of a wall.

Never leave studs, backings, or any other building material holding in place by only friction, screw it down even if only temporarily.

Get a tester for the power socket you plug into, make sure the hot and neutral are not reversed, and that it is grounded.

Child proof your job site.

Don’t go to lunch or home with power tools plugged in.

Don’t leave power tools or cords where they can be pulled down with a tug.

Don’t leave ladders set up.

Don’t leave crawl hatches off.

Don’t leave pipes open, they will become full of dirt, nails, screws, and toys.

Leave boards on the floor, not leaning on end.

How to work safely when training new help.

The safety of your trainee is your responsibility. If that is not enough remember this, new workers on the job are as apt to hurt you as themselves.

It is unavoidable that the early period of training will slow work and cost more. Nevertheless training is part of a professionals job description, do it right. Do not work longer or harder to make up and so change your good habits. The habits you display to your trainee are the habits that person will employ.

Verbalize safety rules and the reasons they exist as occasion arises on a daily basis at first.

Show that you value your trainees by stating your intention to teach them how to work safely, how to experience longevity on the job.

Be the kind of trainer that your helper will want to stay with and you will not teach others only to have them leave.

In general, be a Mensch.

In specific, promote job site safety and the knowledge of how to work safely.

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