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Saturday is Independence Day and that means fireworks! Our country has celebrated with fireworks every 4th of July since 1777 and, unfortunately every year there are numerous injuries related to this long-standing celebration practice. This year, as we near the holiday, I share with you some safety reminders to keep you and your children safe. 

Prepare Before You Light
  • Use legal fireworks, available at licensed outlets.
  • Store fireworks out of children’s reach.
  • Keep pets safe indoors.
  • Always keep water handy.
Think Safety First
  • Only adults should light fireworks.
  • Only use outdoors.
  • Do not throw fireworks or hold in your hand.
  • Protect your eyes.
  • Light one firework at a time and move away quickly.
  • Never relight a “dud.”
Be Responsible After
  • Soak used fireworks in water.
  • Be considerate--clean up used fireworks.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

William Powell III, or Billy as he as known to most, is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's, Inc. 
Learn more about Donley's safety program.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 69 lives were lost that year as a result of falls from scaffolds and platforms. With a bit of knowledge, attention to detail, and ongoing maintenance to keep scaffolds in excellent working order, fall-related fatalities can be significantly reduced.  Read below to learn more... 

Platforms and Decking 
Scaffolds must be fully planked or decked whenever possible. Platforms and decking planks may be made of:
  • Solid sawn wood (scaffold grade only)
  • Manufactured wood
  • Manufactured steel
  • Manufactured aluminum
Common Visual Defects
Platforms* must be free from defects, including:
  • End Splits - A separation that extends through the plank from face to face. End splits are caused by repeated exposure to wet/dry conditions. If an end split exceeds 18," remove the plank from service. 
  • Saw Cuts, Drilled Holes and Notches - Saw cuts across the face or through the edge of the plank, drilled holes or notches will reduce the plank’s load carrying capacity. Planks with saw cuts, drilled holes or notches should be removed from service. 
  • Edge Splits - A separation of the narrow edge of the plank usually caused by forklift damage. A diagonal split may be caused by overloading. Probe the split to determine the depth; shallow weather checks are acceptable. If an open split is detected, remove the plank from service. 
  • Dents, Gouges and Depressions - Dents can indicate internal structural damage. Dropping the plank or impact from heavy objects on the plank will dent the plank. Remove the plank from service and visually inspect the plank before reuse. 
  • Face Breaks - Irregular cracks across the face of the scaffold plank. Usually a result of overloading, face cracks dramatically reduce the strength of the plank. Remove planks with face breaks from service. 
*Wooden platforms must not be painted to hide defects. 

Guidelines for Deck Spacing & Extensions
  • The space between the last plank and the uprights cannot exceed 9 inches. 
  • The space between planks cannot exceed 1 inch, except where necessary for obstructions. 
  • Platforms and walkways, in general, must be at least 18 inches wide. 
  • The ends of each platform must be cleated or restrained by hooks (or equivalent) to prevent accidental displacement, or must extend at least 6 inches over the centerline of the support. 
  • The maximum extension of the plank cannot be more than 12 inches for planks that are <10 feet long. 
  • The maximum extension of the plank cannot be more than 18 inches for planks that are >10 feet long. 
  • Where platforms overlap to create a running scaffold, the overlap must occur only over a support and shall not be less than 12 inches unless nailed together. 
The platform shall not deflect more than 1/60 of the span when loaded. Allowed deflection: 
  • 3 foot span = 0.6 inches of deflection 
  • 5 foot span = 1 inch of deflection 
  • 7 foot span = 1.4 inches of deflection 

At Donley’s, safety is our culture. Our daily goal is to operate incident free. To learn more about scaffolding/platform safety regulations, please visit OSHA.GOV.

William Powell III, or Billy as he as known to most, is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's, Inc. 
Learn more about Donley's safety program.

Today, I share with you a construction safety hazard that can cause serious injury or even death to construction workers, yet is so common that it happens an estimated 100 times every second. That hazard is lightning. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lightning is one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury in the United States and the odds of being struck by lightning over your lifetime is 1 in 3,000! Most likely to develop on hot, humid days when outside construction activities are most likely to be taking place, thunderstorms and lightning can be very dangerous. Understanding how to protect oneself from an average 100,000,000 volts of electricity per lightning strike is extremely important.
Do’s and Don’ts If Caught In a Lightning Storm
  • Do take shelter inside a building or car and close the windows and doors. 
  • Do get off equipment immediately. 
  • Do get out of the water if you are swimming.
  • Do get out of the water if boating. If you cannot immediately get out of the water, stay low and avoid contact with the water until you can get away from it. 
  • Do not take refuge under any tall, isolated object, such as a tree. Standing under a group of trees shorter than others in the area is better than being in the open. 
  • Don’t touch electric fences, clothes lines, metal pipes,rails, telephone poles or any other conductor. 
  • Do put down any object that might conduct electricity, such as a rake, hoe or shovel. 
  • If you are outside with no way to get to shelter, do get to a low spot, make your body as low to the ground as possible but do not lay flat on the earth. Curl on your side or drop to your knees and bend forward putting your hands on your knees. If there is a group of people, spread out. If someone feels there hairs stand on end, it may mean lightning is about to strike. Stay calm and keep low.
First Aid for Lightning Strikes
If someone is struck by lightning, provide first aid immediately for any injury that is visible, and be prepared to provide CPR. And call 9-1-1 immediately!
Did You Know…
  • Rubber-soled shoes provide absolutely no protection from lightning
  • If you can hear thunder, you are within 10 miles of a storm and are within reach of lightning.
  • An automobile can offer protection by acting like a Faraday cage, provided that the occupants do not touch the metal of the care while inside.
Knowing this information will help keep you safe in a storm and may just safe your life!

William Powell III, or Billy as he as known to most, is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's, Inc. 
Learn more about Donley's safety program.

On Monday of this week, the high temperature in Cleveland, Ohio reached a balmy 88 degrees! It was a beautiful, sunny day and gorgeous weather for May in Cleveland. It’s a reminder that summer is just about here and now seems the perfect time to remind everyone of the importance of staying hydrated during the warmer temperatures.

Dehydration can have a pretty significant impact on the human body, especially the brain because dehydration can significantly reduce concentration and impact emotional stability.

  • Concentration & Alertness: Multiple scientific studies have found that individuals suffering from dehydration report feeling tired, sluggish, and that it took more effort to concentrate on tasks.
  • Mood Changes: When we are lacking fluid, we can start to feel increasingly impatient and tense. A study measuring hydration status, performance and mood changes was performed on U.S. Army officers during which they were asked to perform intense training sessions in the heat for over 53 hours. The army officers lost more than 5 pints of body fluid (through sweat) during their training. Tests of vigilance, reaction times, memory and ability to reason all showed significant impairment. When asked about their mood, they reported feeling increasingly tense, confused, tired and depressed. 

What to Drink and What To Avoid

Mother Nature has provided the perfect remedy for dehydration. Water... H20... Agua. For this reason, Donley’s ensures adequate supplies of water are available on all job sites. Drinking water at regular intervals will help to replenish lost fluids before dehydration sets in, which is important because by the time you actually feel thirsty, the body’s water level is likely to already be lower than it should be.

Not a fan of plain water? Research also shows that a lightly flavored beverage with a small amount of sodium encourages people to drink enough to stay hydrated. The combination of flavor and electrolytes in a sports drink like Gatorade provides one of the best alternate choices to help you stay properly hydrated.

Avoid drinks with high sugar content such as soda and even fruit juices. These are slow to absorb into the body. Also alcohol and caffeinated beverages should be avoided.

Many people ask how much to drink and that truly depends on your activity level and how much your body is losing fluids. In general, when you are working and sweating, you should drink at least every half-hour to ensure you are drinking enough to replace lost fluids.

It's a pretty simple message, "Stay hydrated to keep your mind alert and to stay safe."

William Powell III, or Billy as he as known to most, is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's, Inc. 
Learn more about Donley's safety program.
Last week, I suggested developing the good habit of a Refocus Reset to reduce job-related injuries by as much as 90%. This week, I share a related statistic: over 80% of workplace injuries arises from worker behavior. 

It’s not easy to acknowledge that we all make mistakes and despite our best efforts, we all experience errors in judgment. To offset this, we try harder and tell ourselves to focus more. This is natural behavior, and yet when it comes to construction work, the tendency to over focus can be its own form of a safety hazard. You see, when we over focus on one specific task, we fail to recognize obvious hazards. To illustrate this point, I share with you the following true story.

A few years ago there was an incident where a fairly new shop worker fell into a hole in the floor and required several stitches in his leg. The opening was visibly flagged and it seemed incomprehensible that an injury could occur with such a well-marked hazard. The post incident interview went something like this: 
Interviewer: “So, you saw the caution tape?”
Worker: "Yes.” 
Interview: “Do you understand what caution tape means?”
Worker: "Oh, yes." 
Interview: “But you stepped over the caution tape and fell into the hole?”
Worker: "Yes, that is pretty much what happened." 

Upon further questioning, it turned out that the employee was on the end of a tag line at the time. He was so focused on keeping the plate steady that the consequences of stepping over the caution tape did not register. 

If this story seems a bit unbelievable? It’s not. Research into workplace injuries confirms that intense concentration on a specific task reduces the capacity to recognize ones surroundings and any obvious hazards. As a result, a significant number of workplace injuries have occurred. 

As a member of Donley's Safety team, I realize I cannot stop the pressures that construction workers face on the job. I also have to acknowledge that intense focus is needed to complete our jobs because construction work can be dangerous work. However, what I can do is bring awareness to this topic and suggest ways to balance intense focus with awareness of surroundings. Again, as I mentioned last week, the 4-Second Refocus Reset is a great habit to develop to ensure awareness of the hazards around us, but there are other tools that are effective as well.

The Safe Task Analysis, or STA is one such tool. Donley's requires all our subcontractors to complete an STA each day.  This living document is a pre-task planning tool that is updated daily so that each team member knows his/her task(s), the associated hazards, and how to control or eliminate the potential for the hazard(s) to cause harm. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using this tool:
  1. Everyone has input
  2. Identify task(s) for the day
  3. Identify what hazards could potentially cause an injury no matter how trivial they may seem
  4. Identify other trades working in close proximity and ask the question “Can work be safety performed around them?”
  5. Identify how to abate the hazards identified by asking “Do I have the right training,equipment, and/or material?”
  6. And lastly, if the task(s) change, start over with a new STA.
Folks, the STA is still a piece of paper; it won’t save a life. But, it will help change behaviors that will ultimate lower the percent of construction site injuries that occur.

We will never know what we have prevented from happening, but we will definitely know what we didn't.

William Powell III, or Billy as he as known to most, is a Regional Safety Manager for Donley's, Inc. 
Learn more about Donley's safety program.
There is a significant opportunity to reduce job-related injuries by as much as 90% and most of us aren’t even aware of it. And, it is surprisingly simple to do and takes very little time. What is this hidden gem of safety? It’s called a Refocus Reset and it takes all of four seconds to complete.

First instituted on CN Rail, the Refocus Reset was part of a strategy to reduce the number of serious incidents—including many amputation injuries—they were experiencing. Upon further examination,CN Rail found that their employees were well-versed in safety rules and procedures, but were simply not focused on the task at hand. Even well-rested employees got caught up in the routine of the day and when performing familiar activities found themselves daydreaming or thinking about other things. You see, with routine tasks, it is usually not the task itself but some small thing you did not anticipate that causes an incident. Perhaps you did not notice the debris in front of the tool you were going to pick up. Or perhaps you did not notice somebody placed something on the part you were about to pick up.

It is easy to imagine the different activities we do every day and how easy it would be to apply a Refocus Reset. For example, getting in a forklift and having a quick look around. In those few seconds, we change our thinking from where we are going to focusing on the area, road conditions, other vehicles, etc. In other words, we refocus our attention.

Seriously, all it takes is four seconds to reduce your chance of injury. We encourage you to make it a habit to Refocus Reset before starting your next task.

Where is the nearest fire extinguisher to you right now? Where is the closest portable fire extinguisher at your normal work area?

In case of a fire, knowing the answers to these two questions is very important because we all know that every second counts.

What is even more important, however, is the answer to this question, "Is the fire extinguisher ready for use?"  Do YOU know if your unit is ready for use? If you can answer yes to these six questions… great! If you answer no or I don’t know to any of them, then it’s time for a fire extinguisher inspection.
  1. Is the extinguisher charged fully?
  2. Is it damaged?
  3. Is it the proper type extinguisher for the hazards in your area?
  4. Is the unit hung properly?
  5. Is it blocked?
  6. Has it been hydrostatically tested in the past 5-12 years?

So, just how important is an inspection? It can be a matter of life or death:

A man was killed when he used a portable fire extinguisher to put out a small fire. Corrosion on the bottom of the fire extinguisher was serious enough that the extinguisher case ruptured when activated. The parts struck the employee in the chest causing his death.

A similar incident occurred in 1988. This fire extinguisher had a rubber boot or cap to protect the bottom of the cylinder case. Moisture had seeped in between the rubber and outside cylinder wall and caused the cylinder to corrode inside the boot. Over time, this corrosion weakened the cylinder and it ruptured when the internal CO2 cylinder was activated. Other extinguishers of this type have been found to have the same type of corrosion underneath the rubber boot.

In-depth inspection and testing of fire extinguishers are critical. Especially if your fire extinguishers have rubber or plastic boots or caps and are located in potentially corrosive environments such as:
  • Outside, unprotected from the weather
  • Wet or damp environments
  • Near marine facilities or other waterfront buildings, especially those located near salt water

Fire extinguishers should be inspected at least once per month.  There are companies that provide this type of service and a quick internet search will find those in your area. However, we believe that safety is everyone’s responsibility, so we encourage you to take a look at the extinguisher in your work area. Let someone know if you see signs that it is damaged or uncharged so it can be taken out of service and a replacement installed.

One more thing… safety is 24/7 so don’t forget the fire extinguisher at home. It should be inspected too.

Let’s be honest, very few of us consciously think about gravity playing a role in construction work, yet the reality is that gravity never forgets to bring you back to earth. As soon as you set foot on the ladder’s first rung and pull your body off the ground, gravity works to bring you back to earth. Therefore, it should be no surprise that ladder safety begins from the ground up.

Start with a Good Foundation
  • Proper ladder setup will help prevent slips and falls. Place the base on a firm, solid surface. Avoid slippery,wet or soft surfaces. If you must put the ladder on a soft surface, place a board under the ladder’s feet to provide firm footing. Make sure the top of the ladder has firm support as well.
  • Never lean a ladder against a window pane or other unstable surface. If you’re using a straight or extension ladder, the angle of the ladder is the next critical safety factor. A straight or extension ladder should be placed 1' away from the surface it rests against for every 4' of ladder height. For example, if the ladder is 4' high, the bottom of the ladder should be 1' away from the support surface.
  • If you use a ladder to access a roof or platform, make sure the ladder extends at least 3' over the roof or platform edge. Be sure to securely fasten straight and extension ladders to the upper support. If you have angled the ladder properly and still have doubts about its stability, have someone hold the ladder before climbing up.
  • If you’re using a step ladder, be sure to open it completely before you climb. If you have to use a step ladder near a doorway, lock or barricade the door and post signs so no one will open it and knock you off the ladder.

Climb with Care
  • When you climb, always face the ladder and grip the rungs of the ladder to climb, not the side rails. Never get on or off a ladder from the side unless it has been secured to prevent movement.
  • Never climb with equipment in your hands. Use your pockets, equipment belt, or a tool pouch and raise heavy objects with a hand line. 
  • If you forget something, always climb down the ladder to retrieve it yourself; don’t have someone toss it up to you. 
  • Never ask someone to climb up your ladder to give you supplies. It is dangerous to exceed the weight limits that a specific ladder can handle.
  • When you descend a ladder, practice the same safety rules: Face the ladder, keep your body square and hold on to the rungs. Lastly, step off at the bottom rung of the ladder. Never jump off of a ladder.

Think Before You Carry
  • Before you start to haul a ladder around, evaluate the area where you’ll be working. Ladders can be heavy and unwieldy. You can strike another person or object, or hit electrical power lines. 
  • Make the ladder as compact as possible before transporting it. 
  • Carry it horizontally while tilting it higher in front and lower in back. 
  • If the ladder is particularly long and heavy, get a coworker to help you carry it.

We've all experienced it at some point. Fatigue sets in; your mouth feels dry; your legs are heavy and you may even have a headache. These are all common signs of dehydration.

When you are working hard, body fluid is lost through sweat. If that fluid is not replaced, dehydration and early fatigue are unavoidable. Losing even 2% of body fluids (less than 3.5 pounds in a 180-pound person) can impair performance by increasing fatigue and affecting cognitive skills. During the summer heat it is easy to become dehydrated if you don't drink enough fluids to replace what is lost in sweat. But it is equally important to understand that dehydration happens during the winter as well. 

Prevent Dehydration 

  • When to drink: Ensure you drink before you start working, trying to catch-up for lost fluids after a period of time is very difficult. Also, drink before you get thirsty. By the time you're thirsty you are already dehydrated, so it's important to drink at regular intervals – especially when it is hot outside.
  • What to drink: Water is truly one of the best things to drink. Research also shows that a lightly flavored beverage with a small amount of sodium encourages people to drink enough to stay hydrated. The combination of flavor and electrolytes in a sports drink like Gatorade provides one of the best choices to help you stay properly hydrated.
  • What to avoid: During activity, avoid drinks with high sugar content such as soda and even fruit juices. These are slow to absorb into the body. Also alcohol and caffeinated beverages should be avoided.

Many people ask how much to drink and that depends on your activity level and how much your body is losing fluids. In general, when you are working and sweating, you should drink at least every half-hour. 

Ladders are such common everyday tools that many workers take them for granted. Ladder injuries can easily be avoided by remembering there is a right way and a wrong way to use a ladder. 

6 Tips to Use a Ladder Safely
  1. Properly set-up and use the ladder in accordance with safety instructions and warnings. Wear shoes with non-slip soles.
    DON'T stand above the second step from the top of a stepladder or the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder.
  2. Center body on the ladder and keep belt buckle between the rails while maintaining a firm grip.
    DON'T climb a closed stepladder.
    DON'T climb on the back of a stepladder.
    DON'T stand or sit on a stepladder top or pail shelf.
  3. Climb facing the ladder, move one step at a time and firmly set one foot before moving the other.
    DON'T climb a ladder if you are not physically and mentally up to the task.
  4. Haul materials with a line rather than carry them up an extension ladder. Use extra caution when carrying anything on a ladder.
    DON'T place the base of an extension ladder too close to or too far away from the building.
  5. Have another person help with a heavy ladder. Have another person hold the ladder while you are working on it.
    DON'T over-reach, lean to one side or try to move a ladder while on it. Climb down and then re-position the ladder closer to your work.
  6. Move materials with extreme caution so as not to lose balance or tip the ladder
    DON'T exceed the maximum load capacity or duty rating of a ladder.
    DON’T permit more than one person on a single-sided stepladder or an extension ladder.