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Did you know that as an employee, you have a Right to Know about the hazardous materials used in your work area and the potential effects of these materials upon your health and safety? In fact, every company which produces and uses hazardous materials must provide their employees with information and training on the proper handling and use of these materials.  

Below are some key terms used in OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard and some terms used to control both physical and health hazards.

Materials Inventory: A list of the hazardous materials present in your work area. 
Material Safety Data Sheets:  A detailed description of each hazardous material listed in the Materials Inventory. 
Labeling: Containers of hazardous materials must have labels which identify the material and warn of its potential hazard to employees. 
Training: All employees must be trained to identify and work safely with hazardous materials. 

In order to tie all the above together, a written program must be developed.
Product Substitution: Because many chemicals do similar jobs, it is important to select chemicals that do a good job, while being less toxic. 
Engineering Controls: Well designed work areas minimize exposure to materials which are hazardous. Examples of engineering controls would include exhaust systems and wetting systems to control dust. 
Safe Work Practices: Safe work practices will insure that chemicals are used correctly and safely. 
Personal Protective Equipment: Masks, eye protection, gloves, aprons, and other protective equipment and clothing are designed to protect you while you work. 
Training and Communication: Knowing how to work safely with chemicals that pose a hazard is an important activity. You have a right to know, but you also have a responsibility to use the knowledge and skills to work safely. 
Environmental Monitoring: Industrial hygiene personnel regularly sample the air and collect other samples to insure that hazardous chemicals do not exceed established acceptable exposure limits. 
Personal Monitoring: Monitor yourself and others. Be on the lookout for any physical symptoms which would indicate that you or your coworkers have been overexposed to any hazardous chemical. Symptoms, such as skin rashes, dizziness, eye or throat irritations or strong odors, should be reported to your supervisor. 

Rich Reese is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's.  Learn more about Donley's safety program.

With electricity, we are dealing with something that cannot be seen but can be very destructive if the proper precautions are not taken. The danger is always there so it is important to know the basics of protection in order to eliminate the hazards. The rules listed here apply to electrical installations used on a construction site--both temporary and permanent--but can easily be applied to home use as well.

  • Extension cords used with portable electrical tools and appliances shall be of three-wire types. Grounds are never to be removed from the extension cords.
  • Temporary lights shall be equipped with guards to prevent accidental contact with the bulb. Guards are not required when the reflector is constructed in such a way that the bulb is deeply recessed.
  • Temporary lights shall not be suspended by their electric cords unless cords and lights are designed for this means of suspension.
  • Splices shall have insulation equal to that of the cable. NO TAPE!
  • Electrical and extension cords or cables are not to be laid on floors, in walkways, etc., unless it is impractical to do otherwise. They should be suspended or secured in such a way as not to block or hang in walkways, doorways or work areas.
  • Panel boxes shall have a cover on them at all times, except when being serviced and when a temporary cover is in place it should be marked "HOT" to denote live current.





  • Before using make a safety check for loose cable connections, bare wires, cracked outlets and missing or damaged face plates.
  • During use, be sure plug fits firmly and check for any signs of heating caused by faulty connections.
  • When finished, grab the plug to remove. Yanking a cord from an outlet can:
    • Break cord insulation and wires
    • Pull loose wire connections
    • Bend plug prongs
    • Spread clips inside outlets 



Rich Reese is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's, Inc. 

Learn more about Donley's safety program.

Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can result in health problems.  With the recent drop in temperatures, we need to be especially mindful of the weather, its effects on the body, proper prevention techniques, and treatment of cold related disorders.

Personal Protective Clothing
  • Wear at least three layers of clothing
  1. An outer layer to break wind and allow some ventilation
  2. A middle layer of wool or synthetic fabric to absorb sweat and retain insulation in a damp environment
  3. An inner layer of cotton or synthetic weaves to allow ventilation
  • Pay special attention to protecting feet, hands, face and head.  Up to 40% of body heat can be lost when the head is exposed. 
  • Keep a change of clothing available in case work garments become wet.

Engineering Controls
  • There are a variety of practices to help reduce the risk of cold related injuries.  
  • Use an on-site source of heat
  • Shield work areas from drafty or windy conditions
  • Provide a heated shelter for employees
  • Use thermal insulating material on equipment handles when the temperature drops below freezing

Safe Work Practices
  • Changes in work are sometimes necessary to combat the effects of exceedingly cold weather.
  • Allow a period of adjustment to the cold before embarking on a full work schedule
  • Always permit employees to set their ow pace and take extra breaks when needed
  • Reduce the number of activities performed outdoors
  • Ensure that employees remain hydrated
  • Establish a buddy system for working outdoors
  • Educate employees to the symptoms of cold related stresses such as heavy shivering, uncomfortable coldness, severe fatigue, drowsiness, or euphoria  

Noise is unwanted sound that can effect job performance, safety, and your health. Psychological effects of noise include annoyance and disruption of concentration. Physical effects include loss of hearing, pain, nausea, and interference with communications when the exposure is severe.

Hearing protection is essential when noise exposures can't be controlled at their source. Both earplugs and earmuffs provide a physical barrier that reduces inner ear noise levels and prevent hearing loss from occurring. However, people often resist wearing these or use them incorrectly. Employees resist wearing hearing protection more than any other type of personal protective equipment.

One reason is that they don't think they really need it. But hearing loss occurs so gradually (even in intense exposures) that by the time you notice it, irreversible damage has already occurred. Another reason for not wearing hearing protection is that it can feel uncomfortable. Sometimes workers "spring" the muffs so they don't seal properly against the head, or snip off the inner portion of ear plugs leaving only the outer end to fool their supervisor. If you feel the need to do this, see your supervisor about obtaining a different type or style that fits you comfortably and correctly.

Slight initial discomfort may be expected when a good seal between the surface of the skin and the surface of the ear protector is made. The amount of protection you obtain depends on obtaining a good seal and even a small leak can substantially reduce the effectiveness of the protector. Remember to check the seal several times each day. Protectors - especially ear plugs - have a tendency to work loose as a result of talking or chewing, and must be resealed occasionally.

There are many different styles, types, and brands of ear protectors available, but when correctly fitted, they all provide similar levels of protection. The best hearing protector for you is one that fits correctly so that you can wear it properly.


1. If it is necessary for you to speak in a very loud voice, or shout directly into the ear of a person to be understood, it is likely that the noise level is high enough to require hearing protection.

2. If you have roaring or ringing noises in your ears at the end of the workday, you have probably been exposed to too much noise.

3. If speech or music sounds muffled to you after you leave work, but it sounds fairly clear in the morning when you return to work, you are being exposed to noise levels that are causing a temporary hearing loss. In time, this can become permanent so please take care and use hearing protection.

Simply stated, unguarded protruding steel reinforcing bars are a serious construction site hazard. Even if you just stumble onto an unguarded rebar you can impale yourself, resulting in serious internal injuries or death. Minimize this danger by guarding all protruding ends of steel rebar with rebar caps or wooden troughs, or bend rebar so exposed ends are no longer upright. 

It may take a little more time to cap each bar, but isn’t that time well spent compared to the time spent recovering from an impalement injury? Furthermore, OSHA Standards requires that rebar "be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement." 

Despite OSHA’s requirement, it’s important to be aware that not all guards provide that level of protection. In fact, in some circumstances,  the force of a fall can cause rebar to push clear through a plastic cap and still cause impalement. Fall protection/prevention equipment is the first line of defense when employees are working at any height above exposed rebar, but you must still have the rebar guarded to minimize the risk of injury.

Exposed, unguarded rebar is a serious job site hazard and can cause significant bodily harm. Take the time to minimize the opportunity for an injury to occur and cap ‘em!

The title of today’s posting may conjure an image of folks standing shoulder-to-shoulder on top of a structure yelling out warnings to team members below, so we thought it would be beneficial to review what a warning line actually is and what the guidelines are when used as fall protection.

The warning line is a rope, wire, or chain, along with supporting stanchions that is erected around all sides of the work area. OSHA imposes certain requirements when the warning line is used as fall protection for roofing activities on low-slope roofs with unprotected sides, including:

  • The rope, wire, or chain shall be rigged and supported in such a way that its lowest point (including sag) is no less than 34” from the walking/working surface and its highest point is no more than 39” from that same surface.
  • The line, attached at each stanchion, must be capable of resisting the force of at least 16 pounds without tipping over and have a minimum tensile strength of 500 pounds.
  • The line must be erected in such a way that pulling on one section will not result in slack being taken up in adjacent sections before the stanchion tips over.
  • The rope, wire, or chain shall be flagged at no more than 6-foot intervals with high-visibility material
  • When mechanical equipment is not being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than 6 feet from the roof edge.
  • When mechanical equipment is being used, the warning line shall be erected not less than 10 feet from the roof edge.
  • Points of access, materials handling areas, storage areas, and hoisting areas shall be connected to the work area by an access path formed by two warning lines.
  • When the path to a point of access is not in use, a barricade equivalent in strength and height to the warning line shall be placed across the path or the path shall be offset such that a person cannot walk directly into the work area.
  • No employee shall be allowed in the area between the roof edge and the warning line unless protected by the use of a personal fall arrest system.
More information regarding the use of warning lines can be found online at

Accidents on construction sites are usually a result of someone not paying attention or knowing how to recognize a safety hazard. Construction companies who focus on developing an attitude of safety in their workforce have about 1/5 as many on-the job accidents or injuries.

Some general rules of safety include: 

  • Learn the safe way to do your job.
  • Don’t jump from one elevation to another.
  • Don’t work under suspended loads.
  • Remove protruding nails or bend them over.
  • Keep the work area clear of debris.
  • Use the personal protective equipment required for the job.
  • Treat all electrical wires as being live.
  • Use the right tool for the right job.
  • Be sure all tools are in good shape.
  • Keep scaffolds free of excess weight.

Four Hazard Avoidance Rules

  1. Know the safe way to work, and then follow the safe way all the time.
  2. Maintain safe working conditions – for yourself and others around you.
  3. Work safely, setting the example, and encourage others to do so.
  4. Report all accidents and near misses to your employer.

Help expand the list above by posting a way you incorporate safety into your work routine!

The construction of guardrail systems as well as their use shall comply with the following provisions:
  • Top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, shall be 42 inches plus or minus 3 inches above the walking/working level and be able to resist a 200lb. force. Note: When employees are using stilts, the top edge height of the top rail, or equivalent member, shall be increased an amount equal to the height of the stilts.
  • Midrails shall be installed midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working level.
  • Screens and mesh, when used, shall extend from the top rail to the walking/working level and along the entire opening between top rail supports.
  • Intermediate members (such as balusters), when used between posts, shall be not more than 19 inches apart.
  • Other structural members (such as architectural panels or interior framing) shall be installed such that there are no openings in the guardrail system that are more than 19 inches wide.
  • Manila, plastic or synthetic rope being used for top rails or midrails shall be inspected as frequently as necessary to ensure that it continues to meet the strength of this section.
  • Guardrail systems must be surfaced as to prevent injury to an employee from punctures or lacerations, and to prevent snagging of clothing.
  • The ends of all top rails and midrails shall not overhang the terminal posts.
  • Steel banding and plastic banding shall not be used as top rails or midrails.
  • If wire rope is used:
    • Top rails and midrails shall be at least one-quarter inch nominal diameter thickness to prevent cuts and lacerations.
    • It shall be flagged at not more than 6-foot intervals with high-visibility material.
  • When guardrail systems are used at hoisting areas, a chain, gate or removable guardrail section shall be placed across the access opening between guardrail sections when hoisting operations are not taking place.
  • When guardrail systems are used around holes used for the passage of materials, the hole shall have not more than two sides provided with removable guardrail sections to allow the passage of materials. When the hole is not in use, it shall be closed over with a cover, or a guardrail system shall be provided along all unprotected sides or edges.
  • When guardrail systems are used around holes which are used as points of access (such as ladder ways), they shall be provided with a gate, or be so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the hole.
  • Guardrail systems used on ramps and runways shall be erected along each unprotected side or edge.
In areas where guardrail systems are in place, but need to be removed to allow overhand bricklaying work or leading edge work to take place, only that portion of the guardrail necessary to accomplish that day's work shall be removed and all employees shall be protected by the use of a Personal Fall Arrest System.
When it comes to Personal Protective Equipment, one type does NOT fit all tasks.

  • Eye protection must be worn at all times while on the project site.
  • Face shield must be worn any time there are flying particles that could strike the face
  • Eye protection must be worn under the face-shields.
  • Employees involved in welding or cutting operations MUST wear eye protection and at least the proper
  • shade number as indicated in the table below. 

  • Head protective equipment (HARD HATS) shall be worn at all times while on the project. 
  • Helmets for protection against impact and penetration of falling and flying objects shall meet the requirements of ANSI Z89.1-1969.

  • Intended for use in activities that permit the wearer's full and undivided attention to approaching traffic. 
  • There should be ample separation of the worker from traffic, which should be traveling no faster than 25 mph. 
  • Vests, shirts, coats shall have the required reflective stripes. 

  • Recommended for workers who perform tasks that divert their attention from approaching traffic, or that put them in close proximity to passing vehicles traveling at 25 mph to 50 mph. 

  • Recommended for roadway construction personnel and flaggers, utility workers, survey crews and emergency response personnel or anyone working in a close proximity to a passing vehicle traveling at 50 mph or higher.

Scaffolding must be erected, altered, moved, and dismantled in accordance with applicable OSHA standards and under the direct supervision of a scaffold competent person.

Scaffold components cannot be mixed if they are from different manufacturers unless they fit together without force. Unless the competent person has approved, scaffold components cannot be used if:
  • They are from different manufacturers; or
  • Of dissimilar metals.

Each employee who performs work on a scaffold shall be trained by a person qualified to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards. The training shall include such topics as the nature of any electrical hazards, fall hazards, falling object hazards, the maintenance and disassembly of the fall protection systems, the use of the scaffold, handling of materials, the capacity and the maximum intended load.

Supported scaffold poles, legs, posts, frames, and uprights shall bear on base plates and mud sills (or other adequate firm foundation). The size of the mud sill shall be based on the type of soil the scaffold will be erected upon. 

Minimum Mud Sill Size Scaffolds
  • 4 levels or less in height - 2" x 10" pad, 18" long
  • Scaffolds > 4 levels on Type A Soil - 2" x 10" pad, 18" long
  • Scaffolds > 4 levels on Type B Soil - 2" x 18" x 18" pad
  • Scaffolds > 4 levels on Type C Soil - 2" x 36" x 36" pad

  1. Base Plates MUST be nailed to the mud sills on at least 2 opposite corners to prevent slippage.
  2. Unstable objects, such as bricks, cinder blocks, buckets, scrap lumber, etc., shall not be used to support or level scaffolds.
  3. Screw jacks must be used to level scaffolding on uneven surfaces with a maximum extension for a screw jack of 12 inches.

  • Supported scaffold poles, legs, posts, frames, and uprights shall be plumb (i.e. perfectly vertical) and braced to prevent swaying and displacement.
  • Cross-bracing is required on both front and back sides of each scaffold buck or frame.
  • To check a scaffold for being plumb, use a level on two opposite uprights.
  • To make sure the scaffold is level, use a level on a horizontal support or bearer.
  • To ensure the scaffold is "square", use a tape measure and measure the distance between opposite corners. The two measurements should be equal.