Chipping and hammering for concrete removal are common work activities in bridge work and repair. Workers use compact pneumatic chipping hammers and jackhammers to do the job. These compact battering rams pack a lot of punch, and they can be dangerous if you don’t use them properly. Here are some common-sense tips provided by tool manufacturers.


  • Safety glasses.
  • Face shield.
  • Hearing protection.
  • Hard hat.
  • Gloves.
  • Durable work boots with protective toes.
  • N95 or greater respiratory protection unless you’re using water for silica dust control.


  • Inspect the jackhammer or chipping hammer for damage and make sure all controls and safety interlocks work properly.
  • Check all couplings and accessories on all compressors and ensure that only correct, compatible couplings are in place.
  • Make sure safety or holding pins used on all hose connections are in place.
  • Inspect the safety clip or tool retainer for proper operation. This prevents you from unintentionally shooting the chisel or tool from the barrel.


  • Never exceed the tool’s designated operating pressure.
  • Never point a compressed air hose at yourself or anyone else.
  • Never use compressed air to blow dirt or debris from your clothes.
  • Always disconnect the tool when you’re not using it or when you are changing accessories.


  • Make sure that loose clothing doesn’t get caught in the equipment.
  • Verify that workers won’t encounter electrical or gas lines while performing the work.
  • Keep both hands on the tool.
  • Watch for excess lengths of the air hose, which can cause a tripping hazard.
  • Properly position your body while moving and using the equipment.
  • Allow the tool to do the work by using a grip light enough to maintain control.
  • Discontinue use if numbness, tingling, pain or discoloration of the skin occurs.
  • Always follow any manufacturer special instructions.

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Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.


Bites and stings from bees and wasps, fire ants, spiders, ticks and mites can be common occurrences for contractors.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the five insects that cause most allergic reactions in the United States are honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants. Watch bite or sting victims of these insects for severe allergic reactions. The following symptoms require immediate emergency medical attention:

  • Coughing.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Severe sweating.
  • Itching.
  • Nausea/Vomiting.
  • Redness and swelling around the area of the bite/sting.
  • Hives.

Areas of the body most susceptible to bites and stings are your head, exposed arms and exposed hands. You can reduce bites and stings by keeping these areas covered. You can also reduce your exposure by keeping work areas clean. Insects may be attracted to discarded food or open drink containers.

If you are susceptible to an allergic reaction from an insect bite or sting, you should inform your employer. People that are aware that they have a severe allergy to insect bites or stings should also:

  • Consider making their co-workers aware.
  • Wear a medical warning bracelet or necklace.
  • Carry a wallet card.
  • Carry an epinephrine auto-injector.


  • Remove the stinger by using a gauze wipe or by scraping a fingernail over the area.
  • Never squeeze the stinger or use tweezers.
  • Wash the site with soap and water.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling.
  • Seek medical attention and report work-related injuries.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.


Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, flammable, extremely hazardous gas with a rotten egg smell. It occurs naturally in crude petroleum and natural gas and can be produced by the breakdown of organic matter and human and/or animal wastes (i.e., sewage). It’s heavier than air and can collect in low-lying, enclosed, poorly ventilated areas such as basements, manholes, sewer lines and underground telephone and electrical vaults. When hydrogen sulfide gas burns it produces other toxic vapors and gases, including sulfur dioxide.


Health effects vary with the length of the exposure and the concentration levels in which you are exposed. People with asthma may be at greater risk. The OSHA Construction Permissible Exposure Limit is an eight-hour limit of 10 ppm.

  • Low concentrations (2 -5 ppm) – Effects include irritation of eyes, nose, throat or respiratory system. These effects can be delayed.
  • Moderate concentrations (20 -50 ppm) – Effects include more severe eye irritation and difficulty breathing, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing and vomiting.
  • High concentrations (100 ppm and greater) – Effects that can be extremely rapid (within a few breaths) include shock, convulsions, inability to breathe, coma or death.


A qualified person using gas detection equipment must test the air for the presence and concentration of hydrogen sulfide (and other atmospheric hazards). The qualified person also determines if fire and/or explosion precautions are necessary.

  • If gas is present, you must ventilate the space.
  • If you can’t remove the gas, use appropriate respiratory protection and any other necessary personal protective, rescue and communication equipment.
  • Atmospheres containing high concentrations (greater than 100 ppm) are immediately dangerous to life and health and require a self-contained breathing apparatus.

There are absolutely NO circumstances under which you would ever enter a confined space (a space large enough to enter, limited entry and exit, not designed for continuous occupancy) without:

  1. Testing for atmospheric hazards.
  2. Having the equipment and training to do a non-entry rescue. Calling the fire department is NOT a rescue plan. It’s a recovery plan.
  3. Following all confined space requirements under OSHA 1926 Subpart AA.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.


Fuels can be highly flammable and, if handled incorrectly, these substances can make fueling equipment a dangerous task. Be aware of the hazards and follow proper prevention steps to avoid an accident.

  • NO SMOKING! A burning cigarette can ignite flammable vapors that are produced from the liquid fuel, causing a flash fire or explosion. Ensure there are no other potential sources of ignition, such as open flames or spark-producing equipment operating in the area.
  • Don’t use a cell phone or other electronic device use while fueling equipment.
  • Turn off the equipment or vehicle’s engine when you’re fueling it.
  • Only use DOT-approved safety cans for transporting and transferring fuels.
  • Never dispense fuel into a can or other portable container while it is sitting in your vehicle, truck or truck bed. This allows hazardous static electricity to build up.
  • Before dispensing fuel into your vehicle or equipment, physically touch a metal part away from the fuel tank on your vehicle or equipment to dissipate any static build-up on your body created when you slid out of your vehicle.
  • To prevent hazardous static electricity building up, make contact between the fuel dispenser nozzle or hose to the fill tube on the fuel tank before you start to add fuel to the tank, and keep it in contact throughout the entire refueling process.
  • Maintain a spill kit in your vehicle or near the fueling area.
  • Maintain at least one portable fire extinguisher rated not less than 20-B units located not less than 25 feet and not more than 75 feet, from any flammable liquid storage area located outside.
  • Regularly inspect hoses and pumps for deterioration or damage.
  • Clean up spills immediately using a spill kit and remove any clothing that has absorbed the fuel.
  • In the fueling area, maintain emergency response procedures and a list of company and local emergency contacts for prompt response in the event of an accident.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.


According to OSHA, of the 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2018, 1,008 or 21.1% were in construction — that is, one in five worker deaths were in construction. The leading causes of private sector worker deaths in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than half (58.6%) the construction worker deaths in 2018.

Fall fatalities – 33.5%
Struck-by object fatalities – 11.1%
Electrocution fatalities – 8.5%
Caught-in/between fatalities – 5.5%


  • Correctly install and use personal fall arrest equipment.
  • Install and maintain guard rails and perimeter protection.
  • Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
  • Inspect and use ladders and scaffolds correctly.


  • Do not place yourself between moving equipment and fixed objects.
  • Wear and maintain high-visibility clothes.
  • Use tag lines when moving suspended loads.
  • Inspect and use powered equipment correctly.
  • Use proper rigging techniques.


  • Properly slope or implement trench protection for excavations five feet or deeper.
  • Ensure guards are in place and in good condition on powered tools and equipment.


  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
  • Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
  • Maintain minimum approach distance from power lines.
  • Use GFCI on all portable electric tools.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.


According to OSHA, trenching is a leading jobsite hazard, which causes an average of 54 fatalities each year. The following are OSHA’s common trenching and excavation safety standards to help protect yourself and your crew during excavation work activity.

  • Locate and daylight/pothole buried utilities prior to excavation.
  • Trench excavations that are five feet deep or greater are required to have sloping, benching, shielding (trench box) or shoring unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock.
  • A competent person* may determine that a protective system isn’t required for trench excavations less than five feet deep.
  • A competent person must inspect the excavation and classify the soil type. The classification is based on the results of at least one visual and one manual analysis.
    • Solid Rock
    • Type A Slope ¾ to 1 (53º)
    • Type B Slope 1 to 1 (45º)
    • Type C Slope 1 ½ to 1 (34º)
  • The atmosphere must be tested before entry in trench excavations four feet in depth or greater before entry if the potential for oxygen deficiency or a hazardous atmosphere exists or could reasonably be expected to exist.
  • A ladder or other means of egress must be accessible within 25 feet of the worker’s activity for excavations four feet in depth or greater.
  • Excavated materials and equipment must be kept a minimum of two feet from the edge of excavations.
  • Excavated material must be sloped to prevent the material from re-entering the excavation.
  • A competent person must inspect excavations, protective systems and the area around the excavation daily prior to the start of work and as needed throughout the shift. They should document the inspections.
  • Employees are not to work in excavations where there is accumulated water or where water is accumulating. A pump(s) must be in place to remove accumulating water.

*A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary or dangerous to workers, soil types and protective systems required, and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate these hazards and conditions.

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Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.