Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of poison-related death in the United States and is responsible for approximately 450 deaths and 20,000 nonfatal injuries every year. Carbon monoxide is referred to as the silent killer because it’s a tasteless, colorless, odorless and non-irritating, poisonous gas that can overcome people exposed to it without warning.

Carbon monoxide blocks the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream and poisons the red blood cells so they cannot carry oxygen. If tissues and organs don’t receive oxygen, they stop functioning.

In construction, the major source of carbon monoxide is engine exhaust. Gasoline, propane and diesel engines all release carbon monoxide. Some forms of welding and heaters can also produce carbon monoxide.


  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Death.


  • Portable heaters.
  • Portable generators.
  • Concrete saws.
  • Compressors.


  • Conduct a workplace survey to identify all potential sources of carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Use equipment in a well-ventilated area, never in an enclosed area.
  • Inspect equipment prior to use.
  • When you’re using gasoline-powered engines or tools outside of a building, don’t place them near air intakes.
  • Limit running time, and don’t let engines idle.
  • Provide employees with small, personal carbon monoxide detectors with audible alarms to wear or install large, mounted carbon monoxide monitors in work spaces.

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Working in the cold winter weather can be like working in the extreme heat:

  • You must be prepared for it.
  • You must be equipped for it.
  • You must get acclimated to it.

Employees who work in the cold weather during the winter months can be at risk of cold stress and injuries. It’s important to recognize cold weather hazards and potential for injury.


  • Workers taking certain medications, who are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease may be at increased risk during cold weather exposure.
  • Dress in layers that can be added and removed as you get warmer or colder. Sweating from too many layers can cause clothing to become wet. Overdressing can also restrict your movement and increase the potential of an accident.
  • Wear synthetic or cotton clothing next to the skin to wick away sweat.
  • Hands and head should always be covered to minimize heat loss.
  • Take frequent breaks in a warm, dry area to limit the effects of exposure to cold temperatures.


  • Trench foot is caused from prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. To prevent heat loss, the body constricts blood vessels to shut down circulation in the feet. Skin tissue begins to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients.
  • Hypothermia is a severe condition when the body is unable to produce enough heat to counter the heat that it is losing. If your body loses heat more quickly than it can make it, your core temperature will fall. As it falls, the body shifts blood away from the skin to reduce the amount of heat that escapes.
  • Frostbite is characterized by reddened skin with gray and white patches, skin and limb numbness, firm skin and limbs and, in severe cases, blisters.

If employees show signs of cold-related stress or injuries, it’s important to get them warm and dry immediately.

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OSHA defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them”

A misunderstanding about the competent person on a construction site is that he/she is the person having the most knowledge of the work activity being performed or the person who has attended training. This may not always be the case. Completion of a competent person safety course alone does not necessarily establish an individual as a competent person. The course may not adequately provide comprehensive instruction to meet the knowledge requirement for a specific work activity definition.

Below is a partial listing of OSHA standards that require a competent person to perform specific functions:

  • 1926.20(b)(1) – General safety and health provisions.
  • 1926.101 – Hearing protection.
  • 1926.251 – Rigging equipment for material handling.
  • 1926.451 – Scaffolds – General requirements.
  • 1926.452 – Scaffolds – Training requirements.
  • 1926.500 – Fall protection.
  • 1926.502 – Fall protection systems criteria and practices.
  • 1926.503 – Training requirements.
  • 1926.552 – Material hoists, personnel hoists, and elevators.
  • 1926.650 – Excavation.
  • 1926.651 – Specific excavation requirements.
  • 1926.652 – Requirements for protective systems.
  • 1926.753 – Steel erection – hoisting and rigging.
  • 1926.1053 – Ladders.
  • 1926.1400 – Cranes and derricks in construction.

Competent person violations were part of OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited serious violations in construction in 2019.

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Newton’s first law of motion states, an object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. This is what is known as inertia.

Unsecured items in a vehicle will continue moving at the speed the vehicle is traveling until the item is acted upon; potentially striking the driver, vehicle occupants or the windshield and causing severe injury.

This same law of motion applies to all occupants within the vehicle. All vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt. The risk of death of belted, front-seat occupants by unbelted, rear-seat passengers is nearly five times greater than when rear-seat passengers wear seat belts.


The posts on each side of a vehicle’s windshield are called A pillars. Along with large, side-rearview mirrors, both the A pillar and side mirrors can momentarily create a blind spot. When coming to a stop at an intersection, be sure to look around the A pillar and side mirrors for pedestrians, people on bicycles or motorcyclists.

Don’t mount electronic devices on top of the dash or on the windshield, as they can create blind spots.

Minimize items collecting on the dash. When hit with sunlight, they can reflect off the windshield and obstruct the driver’s vision. For example, a person walking in a crosswalk was struck when a driver looked up, realizing the traffic signal had turned green and began to accelerate. A notepad on the dash created a white reflection on the windshield, temporarily obscuring the driver’s view of the pedestrian.


A vehicle will travel 66 feet every second at a speed of 45 miles per hour. If we look at mental processing time (perception/recognition), movement time (muscle movement), mechanical device response time (brake activation) and use three seconds for the average person to react and apply the brakes, the vehicle will travel 198 feet in the span of those three seconds. This does not account for any skidding distance. Make sure to leave enough space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

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What causes us to slip or lose our footing on wet pavement or grass? A loss of friction between your boots and the wet ground surface. Friction is the force exerted by a surface when an object moves (or makes an effort to move) across it, for example, tires on asphalt.

The friction between your feet and a walking or working surface decreases when the surface becomes wet or covered with other material like mud, oil, grease, snow or ice. The coefficient of friction is the force that resists the motion of one body in relation to another body in contact with it.

Using the following coefficients for reference, you can see that friction is reduced by 71% on dry steel vs. wet steel (e.g. equipment steps or trailers).

Dry asphalt = 0.9Ice = 0.1
Clean dry steel = 0.7Wet steel = 0.1 – 0.2
Dry wood = 0.5Ice on wood = .05
Wet wood = 0.2Ice on steel = .03

When a surface becomes wet or covered with mud or other materials, you must adjust your behavior. You need to concentrate and change your frame of mind. You cannot move at the same rate you did when it was dry.

  • Clear obstructions and keep travel paths free of debris and materials.
  • Keep your hands out for balance and concentrate on the surface you are walking on.
  • Clean a wet trailer’s surface before loading and unloading equipment.
  • Be aware of surface conditions when entering or exiting a vehicle or equipment.
  • Concentrate when climbing in or out of a truck bed.

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Flaggers are critical to work zone safety. Their position on the front lines requires them to possess a specific skill set.


  • Wear ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 high visibility apparel.
  • Always be visible to traffic.
  • Follow the traffic control plan.
  • Always use approved stop/slow paddles.
  • Communicate specific instructions to motorists.
  • Respond in an emergency.
  • Allow time and distance for drivers to react.
  • Coordinate with other flaggers.
  • Maintain good approach sight distance.
  • Never stand in a moving traffic lane.
  • Always have an escape route.
  • Remove signs if you’re not flagging.
  • Stand alone on the shoulder in clear view.
  • Never stand in the open traffic lane.
  • Warn others in a work zone of dangerous situations.
  • Allow reaction distance from signs – the flagger station should be the same distance in advance of the work zone as the buffer length.
  • Never turn your back on traffic.
  • Do not stand where you can be struck by construction equipment.
  • Do not stand in the shade, over the crest of a hill or around a sharp curve where you can’t be seen.
  • Do not use your cell phone.
  • Do not listen to music or use earphones.
  • Do not leave your position until you are properly relieved.

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