Hurry: A Barrier to Safety and Productivity

Originally published 11/25/2015

There are many times during a typical work year when workers face the “Hurry-Up Syndrome.” As the deadline looms, workers sometimes ignore good practices for the sake of saving time. But all too often, hurrying to complete a job results in poor work quality or worker injury.

What happens when you rush to finish a job?

  1. Planning suffers. We place too much emphasis on action, rather than planning and thought. Instead of planning ahead and obtaining the proper tools and equipment to do a job correctly and safely, there is a tendency to make do with what you have. Using the wrong tool for a task can injure people and damage equipment. Without proper planning, we often stage materials far from where we will use them. This results in more movement, which increases the opportunity for an accident or injury to occur.
  1. Attention to task suffers. Workers don’t focus on the task at hand. Instead, they are thinking about what still needs to be done and the time deadline. This lack of focus can cause accidents and injuries. Distraction is often the root cause of injury.
  1. Breaking the rules. Looming deadlines can prod workers with the best of intentions, to break the rules in order to complete a task. They respect the procedures for quality work and the safety rules, but in the stress of the moment, they decide cutting corners just this once won’t hurt. An example would be when a worker fails to use the appropriate fall protection equipment because he only intends to be at a certain height for a few minutes. If there is no immediate negative consequence, then he has the tendency to repeat the action. Sooner or later there will be a negative consequence, which could result in damage to or loss of equipment, or cause injury to himself or others.

We cannot totally avoid the “Hurry-Up Syndrome;” however, we can acknowledge the stress for what it is and resolve to do what we know is best for both timely work completion and safety for our co-workers and ourselves.

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Be Prepared for Cold Weather

It’s getting colder, and winter is just around the corner. Now is the time to think about the extra safety precautions you need to take during the winter months, whether driving or working on the jobsite.

Check out these tips for driving in winter weather:

  • Give yourself extra time to drive to work.
  • Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses. Remember that they will freeze first.
  • Drive defensively. Watch out for drivers who may be driving too fast for road conditions, or who may have lost control of their vehicle.
  • Measure the low-temperature protection provided by the antifreeze in your vehicle to avoid frozen radiator and hoses.
  • Keep an ice scraper, shovel, jumper cables, a blanket and some sand, kitty litter or traction mats in your vehicle.
  • Check the tread on your tires. If it’s less than one-eighth of an inch, consider replacing the tires.
  • Check the air tanks on your truck, and make sure liquid isn’t building up. During winter months, air brake lines could freeze because the air tanks weren’t drained. Driving a truck under these conditions is very dangerous.

Dress for working in cold weather:

  • Wear layers of clothing. Many layers of thin garments trap heat better than a few thick ones. You can always remove a layer if you get warmer.
  • Wear a liner in your hard hat.
  • Wear headbands or hooded jackets to protect your ears.
  • Keep clothes clean and dry.
  • Wear water-resistant boots.
  • Wear windproof outer layers.
  • Wear cotton close to the body.
  • Wear gloves with liners, if possible.
  • Wear an extra pair of socks for added warmth.
  • Make sure your safety vest is clean and in good repair. As the days get shorter, early low-light conditions make it very difficult for passing drivers, equipment operators and other co-workers to see you.

When possible, consider taking additional precautions against cold weather:

  • Take breaks in warm areas.
  • Use approved warming devices. Be cautious of carbon monoxide buildup when you are indoors.
  • Use the buddy system, and check on each other regularly.
  • Be cautious of ice buildup on the jobsite. Slip and fall injuries can occur suddenly.
  • Schedule work to avoid being exposed to high-wind conditions.
  • Work with your back to the wind.

The best time to prepare for the cold is before you are exposed. Think ahead, and be prepared for changing conditions. Following these steps can lessen your chances of an accident or injury.

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Rigging Safety

Originally published 11/04/2015

Failure to properly secure static loads for transport causes injury to people and damage to property. When securing a load against unwanted movement during hauling, employees should use the same rigging techniques for tie-down as for lifting. The consequences of rigging failure during transport can be just as disastrous as dropping a load during a high crane lift.

The quality of the rigging equipment is important. Rigging materials such as chains, straps, hooks, eye bolts and clamps are not required to meet the same standards as similar gear used for lifting. However, when using come-alongs, strap winches and other tightening devices, the strain on rigging materials can begin to approximate lift strain. When the strain on equipment caused by tightening is combined with the strain of a truck when turning quickly, climbing a steep grade or making sudden stops, the strain on equipment can equal that of lifting, and cause rigging to fail.

Most chains used for hold-in-place rigging are grade 70. While these chains are very strong, they do not meet OSHA standards and are not safe for overhead lifting. Chains that are rated for lifting are typically SGG grade 100 chains. It stands to reason that a 70-grade chain is more susceptible to wear and tear than a heavier grade chain.

To ensure safety, inspect all tie-down equipment before use as follows:

  • Test chain links for stretch and breakage.
  • Inspect hooks for deflection at the throat and twist.
  • Inspect eye bolts and other terminating attachment points for wear and deflection.
  • Test tie-down points on the truck or load surface for wear and damage.

The same procedure should be used for straps and other tie-down equipment. If the equipment shows extreme wear, don’t use it.

Additional tips for load management include:

  • Place lighter items at the bottom of the load so that heavier items can help hold them down.
  • Block items against each other, or bundle them together, to minimize shifting and movement.
  • Lay tall items flat in the truck bed or trailer, when possible.
  • Block the wheels of equipment to prevent rolling. Wrap straps around and through wheeled equipment to further secure it.
  • Cover items with a solid, waterproof tarp to prevent damage from rain and airborne debris.
  • Tag all load corners with red flags if the load extends four feet beyond the bed of the truck or trailer.

Well-secured loads provide safety for your employees as well as the motoring public.

Download the recording form here.

Safe Use of Cut Saws

Originally published on July 19, 2016

Construction workers often need to use cut saws to cut pipe, concrete, brick or block. Kickback – when the saw jumps back toward the operator – is the primary cause of serious injury when using a cut saw. Because cut saws are very dangerous, operators must have the proper instruction and training, and be regularly assessed to make sure they know how to safely operate the saw.

You should be in good physical shape and well rested if you are going to use a cut saw. Fatigue can cause you to lose control of the saw. Before you use the saw, familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions, and never use an abrasive blade on objects for which it was not intended.

When using the saw, hold it firmly with both hands, maintain good balance and footing at all times and avoid using the saw in awkward positions. It is important to position the saw in such a way that you are not bending over or standing directly behind the blade, especially when the guard is pulled back towards the top of the blade. Never overreach or hold the saw above the line of the shoulder.

A kickback can be caused by using the upper part of the cutting blade, or if the wheel is pinched at the front. It can also happen when a cut is interrupted, or when putting the blade back into a cut that has already been started. Material that sags or moves during a cut could bind the wheel or cause a kickback. Make sure that the object you are cutting is fully supported, secured so it cannot roll or slip and does not vibrate. Wet cutting not only helps keep the abrasive cool and reduce dust, but in a pinch situation, the water can act as a lubricant and reduce the energy of reactive forces. The saw’s guard should be designed to prevent cutting with the front and upper quadrant of the blade. You should never pull the guard beyond the limit stop.

A blade lock in can be caused when the work piece shifts, pinching the blade. Make sure that the work piece is clamped so that this can’t happen. You can also cause a lock in if you try to cut too deeply too quickly, or try to cut on a radius. These can lock the blade or cause the diamond segment to pop off. It would be safer to make a shallow guide cut, then come back for a deeper cut.

General safety tips for using a cut saw include the following:

  • Inspect the saw for damage before use, and make sure the guard is in place and secure. Do not use a wheel that has been dropped.
  • Wear the proper personal protective equipment – i.e. eye/face protection, non-slip gloves, ear protection, hard hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants (but they should not be loose fitting), and a respirator when dusty conditions exist.
  • Fuel the saw outdoors in a well-ventilated area while the engine is cool.
  • Establish a safe work zone to ensure that no one is exposed to any risks because they are too close to the saw while it’s in use.
  • When finished using the saw, turn off the engine and let the wheel stop rotating before carrying the saw or setting it down.
  • When carrying the saw, be sure the hot muffler is on the side away from your body.
  • Store the saw in a cool, dry place. Abrasives are heat and moisture sensitive.

Cut saws are valuable tools in construction, but they can also be dangerous. Safety is one of the most important issues you need to consider before picking up a saw.

Download a recording form here.

Upcoming INDOT NEPA and CE Training

Source: Indiana Department of Transportation

National Environmental Policy Act Initial Training (Requires Online and In-Person Participation)
(Dates: April 13, 2018 through May 15, 2018)

Participants in this class will receive detailed instruction covering environmental considerations required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. Participants will also learn about various policies on work done for INDOT and FHWA. Upon completion of the course participants will be certified in the INDOT NEPA project development process. This course is one of the requirements to be prequalified for environmental work for INDOT projects.

The NEPA Initial Training contains two elements:

  • Online Course: The NEPA Initial Online Course predominately covers NEPA laws and regulations along with providing background information on the NEPA process.  The Online Course is through INDOT University and is self-paced.   All Online Course modules must be completed in advance of the NEPA Initial In-Person Course.  The Online Course is anticipated to take anywhere from 12-28 hours to complete and will begin on April 13, 2018.  Participants will need to complete all modules by May 13, 2018 in advance of the NEPA Initial In-Person Course on May 15, 2018.
  • In-Person Course:  The NEPA Initial In-Person Course is instructor lead and will focus on topics covered in the Online Course.   The course will provide additional information, examples, case studies, class exercises, and discussion questions.  The course will be at the Indiana Government Center South, Conference Rooms 1&2, 402 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 on May 15, 2018 from 8:00am to 4:00pm (Eastern).

Completion of both the Online Course and In-Person Course is required for participants to become eligible for the final NEPA Certificate of Completion. Eligibility is determined by the Environmental Policy Office, which will notify approved participants how to access the final certificate. If interested in attending, please contact Shirley Clark at sclark@indot.in.gov.  Please provide your name, agency/organization, mailing address, phone, and e-mail. You will receive an e-mail regarding the registration process after contacting Ms. Clark.

Seat limit for the training is set at 50.  A fee of $300 for consultants for the NEPA Initial Training is required.  State, Federal, and Local government employees are not charged for this course.

Categorical Exclusion (CE) Training (Requires Online and In-Person Participation)
(Dates: April 13, 2018 through May 16, 2018)

Participants in this course will receive detailed instruction on the preparation of Categorical Exclusions (CE) for INDOT. Participants will also learn about various policies covering work done for INDOT and FHWA. This course is one of the requirements to be prequalified to prepare Categorical Exclusions for INDOT. Upon completion of the course, participants will be certified in the INDOT CE process.

The CE Training contains two elements:

  • Online Course: The CE Online Course predominately covers the content and preparation of CE documents.  The Online Course is through INDOT University and is self-paced.   All Online Course modules must be completed in advance of the CE In-Person Course.  The Online Course is anticipated to take anywhere from 4-6 hours to complete and will begin on April 13, 2018.  Participants will need to complete all modules by May 13, 2018 in advance of the CE In-Person Course on May 16, 2018.
  • In-Person Course:  The CE In-Person Course is instructor lead and will focus on topics covered in the Online Course.   The course will provide additional information, examples, class exercises, and discussion questions.  The course will be at the Indiana Government Center South, Conference Rooms 1&2, 402 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 on May 16, 2018 from 8:00am to 4:00pm (Eastern).

Completion of both the Online Course and In-Person Course is required for participants to become eligible for the final CE Certificate of Completion. Eligibility is determined by the Environmental Policy Office, which will notify approved participants how to access the final certificate. If interested in attending, please contact Shirley Clark at sclark@indot.in.gov.  Please provide your name, agency/organization, mailing address, phone, and e-mail. You will receive an e-mail regarding the registration process after contacting Ms. Clark.

Seat limit for these trainings is set at 50.  A fee of $75 for consultants for the CE Training is required.  State, Federal, and Local government employees are not charged for this course.

INDOT Storm Water Management Training

INDOT will conduct two Construction Storm Water Management Trainings on  from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 and Wednesday,  January 24, 2018 at the Traffic Management Center 8620 E. 21st St in Indianapolis. After attending the class, participants will have 30 days to enter into the INDOT University E-Learning site to finish the training and take an exam. Participants must attain 40 out of 50 correct on the exam to complete this training. Training is valid for 3 years from the class date and can be renewed online.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are enrolling individuals for your company, make sure to include the participant’s valid email address as it will be used for the online portion of the class.