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5 ways to stay safe on the job site

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We all know the importance of wearing a hard hat and steel toed boots on the construction site. But we also know safety on site comes down to more than just wearing personal protective equipment. It means keeping your workers and the public safe from potentially fatal accidents, while delivering and installing on-time.


Here are some ways to keep your projects accident-free.


Start with proper training

It’s very important that anybody who is working in an occupation like construction or manufacturing is trained to do their job safely and correctly. With pipe, culvert, or manhole installations, this is equally important as it can be easy to get a finger or hand pinched between two pieces of concrete or between a concrete structure and a chain or strap. This could lead to a minor injury, or something more major like losing a finger or a hand.

A lot of contractors will choose to train their personnel who will be working in the trenches, but they can also rely on their suppliers. Most concrete product suppliers have employees that can assist contractors on how to properly install their pipes, culverts or gaskets.

There are also a number of Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) courses that job site supervisors are required to take as a part of their job. They can be found here. Sharing this information with their crews is critical, and is often performed on designated days before workers begin their duties.

Always use personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPEs) requirements change depending on the level of risk at a job site. PPE should fit properly and be replaced over time before items wear out or become defective. Some basic PPEs include:

Steel toed boots or steel shank boots

Boots should be both puncture-resistant, and slip-resistant.

Gloves

They help with pinching and chemical exposure for different types of coatings.

Hardhats

We see some job sites where they don’t wear hardhats but we recommend always doing so to avoid head injuries from elevated equipment or product.

Safety glasses or face shields

These can change depending on the level of hazards on site.

 

Keep traffic in the trench low

The trench is a narrow workspace. The bottom of the trench is going to be only slightly larger than the size of a pipe. So the fewer people you have in the trench, the less likely they are to impede performance of each other’s tasks or cause trips or falls while maneuvering within this space. Additionally, if an accident were to happen, this would limit the number of workers involved.

A typical box culvert installation either with or without gaskets should have a crew of about three or four workers in the trench: one or two inside the culvert to watch for alignment, and two or three outside the culvert to direct it into place.

For pipe installations, depending on the diameter of the pipe, you will need at least two workers. One worker at the back side of the pipe to align it, and one person aligning it from the front

Hamilton Kent is very safety oriented—we design our products and practices to make things safer for people on the job site. For manholes, using products like the Tylox® SuperSeal Gasket (TSS) means less manpower is needed around or inside the manhole when risers are being placed. The gaskets require no lubrication or equalization on site, saving crews time in the trenches. Additionally, if it becomes necessary to lift a riser after initially setting it in order to fix alignment of the steps within the chimney, often times the TSS gasket will remain in place on the spigot, saving the crew from the sometimes challenging job of reapplying butyl sealant or re-seating the regular manhole gasket on the top riser.

Close the trench quickly

Installation of any type of prefabricated structure—any type of pipe product or precast concrete structure—is going to be safer than building cast in place concrete structures.

With prefabricated material, it’s delivered and ready for immediate installation, so the trench should be open for a much shorter time. With cast-in-place structures, there are a lot more steps involved, making it a much longer process.

Additionally with prefabricated products, you will be more likely to use rubber gaskets and connectors, which will also shorten the amount of time needed in the trench. As soon as you put your culverts or pipes together, you can proceed with your proper backfill procedures and be ready to move on to the next phase of the project.

There are always risks when it comes to leaving a trench open. Even if the trench is clearly marked there is still a possibility of a construction worker, or even a member of the public, falling in. Closing a trench as early in the job sequence is certainly most desirable for all parties involved.

These simple steps and choices can keep workers, and the public, safer from injury on site, and also have the potential to save lives. It’s far better to have a healthy balance of safe job site practices and quick installations.

For more information on site-safe products, please feel free to talk to one of our reps here