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320 Granite Run Drive, PO Box 3320, Lancaster, PA 17604-3320
Workplace Safety Bulletin
Scaffolding Safety Tips For Winter Projects
If winter projects like replacing light bulbs, washing windows or removing snow require employees to use scaffolding, exercise caution. Scaffolding accidents can cause serious injuries for employees on and around the scaffold platforms. While your company has adequate Workers’ Compensation insurance, reduce claims when you implement several safety tips.
All employees who work on or near scaffolding should undergo safety training. It educates them on how to set up, secure and use the scaffolding properly. Training also teaches employees how to prevent falls, electrocutions and other hazards, plus handle emergencies in a safe and orderly fashion.
Perform Regular Inspections
Employees must ensure the scaffolding is set up properly before anyone uses it. Then a supervisor should perform regular inspections throughout the day and any time it's moved to verify that the scaffolding remains secure throughout the project, is located away from obstructions and functions properly.
Use Undamaged and Unaltered Scaffolds
The scaffolds used by your employees should have no defects or damage. They also should not be altered in any way, which means all repairs and parts comply with recommendations from the scaffolding manufacturer.
Brace the Scaffolding
For stability, employees should use a brace retention or locking system that’s designed for the specific scaffolding they use.
Guardrails on three sides of the scaffolding protect employees. This safeguard should be utilized in addition to fall protection gear.
Understand Load Capacity
Every scaffold has a load capacity or the number of workers and weight it can handle safely. Your employees should know and follow the specific load capacity limitations.
Avoid Height Boosters
If employees can’t reach an area, they may want to use ladders, boxes or stilts to boost their height. Instead, they should raise the scaffolding to the right height.
Avoid Weather Hazards
Scaffolding that’s covered in mud, snow or ice is slippery and dangerous. Employees should clean off scaffolding regularly and also not use scaffolding outdoors during snow, rain, ice, or wind storms.
Loose tools, materials and trash on the scaffolding can cause trips and falls. Employees should carry only the items they need for the current project onto the structure and keep everything organized neatly in toolboxes, buckets or caddies.
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE items can prevent injuries. Scaffolding PPE includes a safety harness and other fall prevention gear, a hard hat as head protection, and non-slip footwear.
Clear the Scaffolding
After each shift, employees should empty the scaffolding and remove tools, materials and trash. A clear area reduces potential accidents when the next shift starts work.
Scaffolding helps your employees complete numerous jobs around your company. Use these safety tips as you prevent accidents and Workers’ Compensation injury claims.
Do You Need To Purchase Workers' Compensation For Seasonal Workers?
Seasonal employees add value to your company and remain an asset for your business. You may wonder, though, if you must provide these temporary employees with Worker’s Compensation.
Understand the law and your responsibility to your employees as you maintain a safe workplace environment.
Why Hire Seasonal Workers?
Temporary employees can provide numerous benefits to companies any time of the year. You may hire these employees to:
Cover duties when a regular employee takes sick leave or a vacation.
Meet temporary production booms.
Perform seasonal duties such as snow removal or landscaping.
Diversify your workforce.
Assess available talent before you expand operations and hire more employees.
What Dangers do Seasonal Workers Face?
You may provide safety training to all your employees, but this training might not be adequate for your seasonal workers. They may forget safety procedures, transfer to a department that features unfamiliar equipment or simply receive in injury as they perform their assigned duties. Common injuries among seasonal workers include:
Overexertion while lifting, pushing or holding items
Strain from improper carrying posture
Repetitive injuries from repeatedly performing the same task
If an employee suffers a job-related injury or illness, he or she can file a Workers’ Compensation claim.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is insurance that covers occupational illnesses or injuries. It will pay for medical treatment and other expenses, including lost wages, rehabilitation, job training and temporary disability, as the injured or ill employee recovers.
Must you Provide Workers’ Compensation to Seasonal Employees?
The United States Department of Labor oversees Workers’ Compensation. However, individual states determine the specific Workers’ Compensation requirements for businesses in that state. Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws as you determine your specific Workers’ Compensation obligations.
Also, remember that you are ultimately responsible for the safety of your employees. This requirement generally means you must provide Workers’ Compensation for every worker whether they work full-time hours year-round or only seasonally.
If you are required to provide Workers’ Compensation for seasonal workers but don’t and someone is injured or becomes ill, you could face fines and court costs. Plus, you’ll still be responsible to cover the costs associated with treating the work-related injury or illness.
How do you Purchase Workers’ Compensation for seasonal Workers?
Discuss your specific hiring practices with your insurance agent. He or she will recommend the right insurance products, including Workers’ Compensation, for your business and ensure you purchase policies with adequate coverage for all your employees.
As you meet your staffing needs, ensure you purchase the right insurance for all your employees. It’s important for all your employees, including seasonal workers.
Winter Safety Precautions That Reduce Workers' Compensation Claims
Cold winter weather affects employees in several ways and can lead to an increase in injuries and illnesses. Reduce Workers’ Compensation claims during cold weather when you take several safety precautions.
Avoid Slips and Fall
When winter weather hits, clear snow and ice off walkways, keep the inside floors dry and instruct employees to wear sturdy shoes. These steps can reduce slips and falls, two common causes of workplace injuries.
Address the Causes of Cold Stress
Cold stress occurs when the internal body or core temperature decreases. The result can be hypothermia, frostbite and even death. Address the causes of cold stress to avoid this danger. Those causes include:
Poor physical conditioning.
Health conditions, including hypertension, hypothyroidism and diabetes.
Layered clothing made of wool, silk or synthetic material keeps employees warm and dry. Clothing should also be loose rather than fitted. Remind employees to cover exposed skin and wear insulated footwear for added protection.
Employees can become dehydrated even in cold weather. Encourage your employees to drink water and warm, sweetened and non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.
Improve Dexterity and Grip
Employees who become so cold that they can’t feel their fingers may drop tools or materials and cause accidents. Provide gloves and other protective gear to help employees maintain their dexterity and grip as they work.
Provide Engineering Controls
Radiant heaters, shields that reduce drafts and outdoor shelters that protect employees from sleet and snow are examples of engineering controls that protect employees as they work. Evaluate your workplace and implement the appropriate engineering controls.
Change Work Hours
Temperatures are lowest overnight, so give employees the option to work during warm daytime hours.
Use a Buddy System
Allow employees to work as a team. This way, they can encourage each other to take breaks and monitor their buddies for signs of cold stress.
Employees should be allowed to take breaks as needed. They can go to a warm area and thaw before returning to their outdoor duties.
Consistently cold temperatures and dreary weather can cause employees to feel irritated, grumpy, unproductive, and uninterested in work. They may even become distracted, which could contribute to accidents. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps and a warm break room environment can boost your employees’ moods.
Provide Winter Safety Training
To create a safe work environment all winter, train employees. They should wear the proper clothing, learn how to recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries, and know how to give first aid confidently.
Winter weather can cause injuries and illnesses on the job. Implement these safety precautions to protect your employees and prevent Workers’ Compensation claims.
The Worst Construction Mistakes Ever Made
Forgetting one hurricane tie before drywalling probably isn't going to see a house going up in a tornado like in The Wizard of Oz. Some mistakes aren't that big a deal. Others... well, here are some of the biggest mistakes ever made in construction, engineering and architecture:
The Aon Center
The Aon Center, completed in 1973, was known for its beautiful exterior made of Italian Carrara marble. A fetching addition to the Chicago skyline, it turns out that there's a reason they don't use Carrara marble on most buildings. It's a very thin material. Just one year after the building was completed, pieces started to crack and fall off, one of them smashing through the roof of the nearby Prudential Center. Replacing the exterior with granite cost over $80 million. There's something to be said for using the right materials the first time.
NASA and Lockheed Martin's Mars Orbiter
Long story short: in 1999, Lockheed Martin used the English system of measurement on a project with NASA, while NASA used the metric system. The Mars orbiter was then unable to transfer its coordinates to the lab in California. Now there's a $125 million chunk of useless metal floating around the galaxy. You might not be building a satellite any time soon, but it's important to get on the same page with your crew and your client when it comes to how many inches are in a meter.
Vdara Hotel & Car Dashboard
The Vdara Hotel & Spa is a classic example of a designer putting form before function. All those reflective surfaces on the windows surrounding the pool looked absolutely stunning, but at mid-day, they created a sort of magnifying-lens-on-an-ant effect, scorching people in the swimming pool and turning the whole area into a car dashboard on a Summer afternoon. One man even claims to have had some hair singed right off his head while going for a swim.
Piper Bravo Oil Rig
The smallest mistakes can have major complications. The Piper Bravo Oil Rig exploded, killing 167 people, simply because safety inspectors forgot to replace a single safety valve after a routine check of the rig. The repairs cost more than $3 billion in 1994 USD. This is something worth thinking about the next time a worker decides that he doesn't need to wear his goggles if he's only going to be using the table saw for a couple minutes.
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