Whitepaper: 05.03.2012

Your Safety Matters

Safety is Not Just for the Jobsite

Putting your flag up for the holidays. Using a ladder to prune your trees. Completing a few honey-dos around the house. Often our summers are filled with small tasks, but do you realize small tasks sometimes put you at risk?

These common household tasks can create the same hazards many construction workers face daily on a jobsite. For instance, do you know at what height OSHA requires a worker to be secured from falling? You may be surprised to learn it is only six feet. While this may seem like such a short distance off the ground, regrettably it is the same assumption many workers make before they injure themselves.

In fact, falls are the leading cause of construction-site injuries. According to OSHA, every day in America two construction workers are fatally injured on the job. If that isn’t enough to make you take precaution before your next task, recognize that annually more than three million people suffer a workplace injury.

These alarming numbers are what motivate us to ensure that everyone who steps foot on one of our jobsites returns home safely to their families each night. At McCarthy, safety is always our top priority. This mindset resonates throughout our culture because we recognize safety needs to be a priority with everything we do.

To make certain our workers do not suffer an injury while on the job, McCarthy employs a comprehensive site-specific safety plan. These plans are developed with the input of our management staff and specifically identify fall hazards and mitigation efforts. Regardless if we are working on a single-story or multi-level high-rise project, McCarthy’s fall protection plan covers everything from how to properly secure yourself to rescuing someone who has fallen. While you may never be working 20 levels up at your residence, there are three basic fall protection principles that should be utilized whenever your feet leave the ground: planning, prevention and using personal protective equipment.

Recognizing the hazards associated with the task you are trying to complete is the first step to avoiding injury. On all McCarthy jobsites, we utilize a Task Hazard Analysis (THA) process to assist every employee in identifying, evaluating, discussing and revisiting each task a worker will be performing during that day. While there’s no need for a foreman when cleaning out the gutters on your home, it’s still necessary to take a close look at the specifics of the work, location, and equipment needed to accomplish a task before you begin your climb.

Just like on an active jobsite, safety starts from the ground up. A professional would inspect an extension ladder before setting it up, so should you. If any of the rungs or rails are bent, cracked, or damaged, don’t use the ladder. The same goes for the feet and pawls, which are critical for maintaining stability once the ladder is set up.

Planning for safety is the critical first step that must be taken before any task. Implementing this plan carefully is the next critical step to prevent accidents. In the case of ladder safety at home, here are seven tips you can easily apply on your next home project:

  1. Use a step stool or utility ladder — never a chair or table.
  2. Secure ladders near the top or at the bottom to prevent them from slipping and causing falls.
  3. Be sure the ladder is on a stable surface so it cannot be knocked over or the bottom be kicked out.
  4. Place ladders at the proper angle — one foot out from the base for every four feet of vertical rise.
  5. Do not set up ladders near high-traffic areas.
  6. Do not lean a ladder directly against the gutters, as they can break easily. If you cannot place the ladder below the gutters, place a board behind the gutter to protect it. If you have a low roof you may be able to use a tall step stool instead of a ladder.
  7. Most important, be sure the ladder is level before you begin your climb and always try to maintain three points of contact while on a ladder.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Now that you are thinking like a professional it is time to dress like one. Having the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is the next step. PPEs can range from face, foot, hand, head and hearing protection depending on the task. If you’re planning a bigger home repair such as roofing, consider looking into purchasing a harness or complete fall protection kit. These kits are affordable and can be purchased at a local hardware store for under $100. A small investment in your own personal protection could save large medical expenses down the road.

Additionally, below are some preventive tips to consider while working on the roof:

  • Cover floor openings larger than 2-by-2 inches with material to safely support the working load.
  • Wear the proper shoes or footwear to lessen slipping hazards.
  • Inspect for and remove any potential slipping hazards before climbing onto roof surfaces.
  • Cover and secure all skylights and openings.
  • Use a fall protection system on steep roofs or if the ground-to-eave height exceeds six feet.
  • Stop roofing operations when storms, high winds or other adverse weather conditions
    create a potentially unsafe environment.

As a hands-on builder, safety is the foundation of our McCarthy culture. Our efforts have been recognized both locally and nationally. However, at the end of the day, we understand what’s really important – and it’s not about providing a written safety plan. It’s not about selling ourselves or touting our efforts. It’s about knowing that we are responsible for saving someone’s life. If that person is willing to take their well-being as serious as we do, then we’ve had a successful day.

As you get caught up working on your to-do list, take the time to recognize that even “simple” tasks have hazards associated with them. Plan appropriately and utilize precaution. By taking this proactive approach you’ll be protecting yourself and making your next household task a safe one.

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