Originally published 09/06/2019
Rebar is a common safety hazard on construction sites. These steel bars have the ability to cut, scratch, pierce and impale workers, which can result in serious injuries and even death. In order to eliminate the hazard of impalement, rebar and other projections on a work site should be guarded or covered. Regardless of the impalement protection method used, it is crucial to always wear proper fall protection equipment when working above rebar or other sharp protrusions.
It is also important that you wear the appropriate personal protective equipment, including gloves, eye protection and boots (making sure the shoestrings and pant legs are tucked into the boots to prevent hang-ups when walking through flatwork).
Following are some tips on how contractors can protect employees from impalement hazards:
- When possible, prevent employee access to or above areas with protruding rebar.
- Fabricate and securely install a wooden trough on top of a line of protruding rebar. Typically, these troughs are constructed of 2 x 4s and run the length of the protruding rebar. The trough must have passed a “drop test” of 250 pounds from a height of ten feet without penetration to demonstrate impalement protection.
- Bend rebar so exposed ends are no longer upright.
- Use steel reinforced caps or covers for protruding rebar with at least a four inch by four inch surface area for square caps, and a four and a half inch diameter for round caps. Mushroom caps are designed to provide scratch protection and should only be used when there is no risk of impalement.
No matter what method is used to protect employees from impalement hazards, workers should always be vigilant when protruding rebar is exposed.