Residential Construction: Safety Rules Application

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  • Explain the purpose of OSHA.
  • Explain the basic safety guidelines and rules for general workplace safety.
  • Explain the basic safety guidelines and rules for working with and around an electrical power tool and circuit.


  • Create a basic fall protection plan.
  • Work safely with ladders and extension ladders.
  • Correctly identify and select the proper fire extinguisher for a particular application.

Glossary of Terms:

  1. Class A fire extinguishers fire extinguishers used on fires that result from burning wood, paper, or other ordinary combustibles.
  2. Class B fire extinguishers fire extinguishers used on fires that involve flammable liquids such as grease, gasoline, or oil.
  3. Class C fire extinguishers fire extinguishers used on electrically energized fires.
  4. Class D fire extinguishers fire extinguishers typically used on flammable metals.
  5. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) electrical device designed to sense small current leaks to ground and de-energize the circuit before injury can result.
  6. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) branch of the U.S. Department of Labor that strives to reduce injuries and deaths in the workplace.
  7. Asphyxiation loss of consciousness caused by a lack of oxygen or excessive carbon dioxide in the blood.
  8. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) an emergency first aid procedure used to maintain circulation of blood to the brain
  9. Frostnip The first stage of frostbite, which causes whitening of the skin, itching, tingling, and loss of feeling Frostbite injury to the skin resulting from prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures
  10. Personal protective equipment (PPE) any equipment that will provide personal protection from a possible injury


The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 was passed by Congress "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources." Under the act, OSHA was established within the Department of Labor and was authorized to regulate health and safety conditions for all employers with few exceptions. This section is designed to provide the facilities technicians with the knowledge to ensure safety for themselves and their coworkers when performing maintenance duties at the facilities where they work.

Purpose of OSHA

OSHA was created to:

Encourage employers and employees to reduce workplace hazards and implement new or improve existing safety and health standards.

Provide for research in occupational safety and health and develop innovative ways of dealing with occupational safety and health problems.

Establish "separate but dependent responsibilities and rights" for employers and employees for achieving better safety and health conditions.

Maintain a reporting and recordkeeping system to monitor job-related injuries and illnesses.

Establish training programs to increase the number and competence of occupational safety and health personnel.

Develop mandatory job safety and health standards and enforce them effectively.

Basic Fall Protection Safety Procedures

Maintaining written fall protection procedures protects not only workers from falls but also management from charges of incompetence. Having individual workers or supervisors decide as to when fall protection is required and what kinds of fall protection equipment to use is an acceptable practice only where workers are routinely exposed to simple hazards, such as homebuilders on a roof. However, when workers are involved with lots of non-routine jobs, such as removing a branch from a roof, safety is enhanced if management puts in writing the fall protection and rescue procedures that employees are required to use.

The written plan must describe how workers will be protected when working 10 feet or more above the ground, other work surfaces, or water.

The plan should:

1. Identify all fall hazards in the work area.

2. Describe the method of fall arrest or fall restraint to be provided.

3. Outline the correct procedures for assembly, maintenance, inspection, and disassembly of the fall protection system to be used.

4. Explain the method of providing overhead protection for workers who may be in or pass through the area below the work site.

5. Communicate the method for prompt and safe removal of injured workers.

Before a fall protection plan can be developed, understand two important definitions:

Fall arrest system - equipment that protects someone from falling more than 6 feet or from striking a lower object in the event of a fall, whichever distance is less. This equipment includes approved full-body harnesses and lanyards properly secured to anchorage points or to lifelines, safety nets, or catch platforms.

Fall restraint system apparatus that keeps a person from reaching a fall point; for example, it allows someone to work up to the edge of a roof but not fall.

This equipment includes standard guardrails, a warning line system, a warning line and monitor system, and approved safety belts (or harnesses) and lanyards attached to secure anchorage points.

Developing a Fall Protection Work Plan:

To develop a fall protection work plan, you must identify the responsibilities of your company and the work areas to which the plan applies. This information should be listed as the first item in your plan. After listing your company responsibilities and the work areas in the plan:

1. Identify all fall hazards in the work area. To determine fall hazards, you must review all jobs and tasks to be done. After all fall hazards have been identified, list the employees required to work 10 feet or more above the ground, other work surface, or water.

2. Determine the method of fall arrest or fall restraint to be provided for each job and task that is to be done 10 feet or more above the ground, another work surface, or water.

3. Describe the procedures for assembly, maintenance, inspection, and disassembly of the fall protection system to be used.

4. Describe the correct procedures for handling, storage, and security of tools and materials.

5. Describe the method of providing overhead protection for workers who may be in or pass through the area below the work site.

6. Describe the method for prompt and safe removal of injured workers.

7. Identify where a copy of this plan has to be posted.

8. Train and instruct all personnel in all of these items.

9. Keep a record of employee training and maintain it on the job.

First Aid

No matter how careful the service technicians are, accidents and mishaps do hap pen, which require immediate medical attention. Although not all injuries require a visit to the doctor or hospital, some treatment is at least necessary to prevent further injury or infection. All service vehicles should be equipped with a first aid kit, which contains the basic medical supplies, such as burn cream, bandages, alcohol pads, eye wash, eye pads, tweezers, antiseptic spray, gauze bandages, and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) face shields. Note that the following sections are not intended to provide medical advice, but to provide basic information regarding immediate treatment for a number of situations commonly encountered in the field.


If a cut results in bleeding, place a clean folded cloth over the area and apply firm pressure. If blood soaks through the cloth, don't remove it. Simply cover the cloth with another and continue to apply pressure until the bleeding stops. If at all possible, elevate the cut area to a level above the heart to help stop the bleeding. If the cut is relatively small, the injury can be washed with soap and warm water and then bandaged.


Asphyxiation is loss of consciousness caused by a lack of oxygen or excessive car bon dioxide in the blood. An oxygen level below 19 % may result in unconsciousness. As a result of electric shock or inhalation of refrigerant, the victim may stop breathing. When a victim's respiratory system fails, the flow of oxygen through the body may stop within a matter of minutes. If the victim stops breathing, (CPR) should be administered. CPR is an emergency first aid procedure used to maintain circulation of blood to the brain.


Exposure results when a refrigerant comes in contact with the skin. Frostbite can occur any time a technician is exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures. The two main stages of exposure are frostnip and frostbite. The first stage of exposure, called frostnip, causes whitening of the skin, itching, tingling, and loss of feeling. In the final stage, called frostbite, the skin turns purple and blisters are formed on the skin.

In rare situations the exposure can result in gangrene and requires amputation of the affected area. It can be treated by covering the area with something warm and dry and then obtaining professional medical attention. Never rub, massage, poke, or squeeze the affected area as this can result in tissue damage. A warm bottle of water can be placed gently against the affected area to warm it slightly.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazardous Materials Safety Procedures

Hazardous materials or chemicals are those substances regulated by federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and ordinances.

Safety Procedures

When dealing with hazardous materials or chemicals, be sure to follow these general guidelines:

Make sure that the names on container labels match the substance names on the corresponding material safety data sheets (MSDSs). If a label is missing or the MSDS is unavailable, notify your supervisor; don't use the chemical until the correct MSDS is obtained. Never remove a manufacturer-affixed label from any container.

Be familiar with the hazards associated with the chemicals intended to be used and ensure that all required hazard controls are in place.

Handle and store hazardous materials only in the areas designated by your supervisor.

Use an appropriate fume hood or other containment device for procedures that involve the generation of aerosols, gases, or vapors containing hazardous substances.

When working with materials of high or unknown toxicity, remain in visual and auditory contact with a second person who understands the work being per formed and all pertinent emergency procedures.

Avoid skin contact by wearing gloves, long sleeves, and other protective apparel • as appropriate. Upon leaving the work area, remove any protective apparel; place it in an appropriate labeled container; and thoroughly wash your hands, fore arms, face, and neck.

Be prepared for accidents and spills. If a major spill occurs, evacuate the area and dial 911.

Electrical Safety Procedures

Electrical accidents can occur when electricity is present in faulty wiring and equipment or when poor work practices are followed. Accidents involving electricity can lead to burns and tissue damage and , in some cases, cardiac arrest and death when the body forms part of the electric circuit. Electric shock can be unsettling to the victim even if there is no apparent injury.

Other possible consequences of electrical accidents are fire and explosion (as sparking can be a source of ignition) and damage to equipment. Many of the accidents can be traced back to faults such as frayed or broken insulation or practices such as inappropriate work on live equipment.

General Safety Precautions

  • Never work on "hot" or energized equipment unless it's necessary to conduct equipment troubleshooting.
  • Do not connect too many pieces of equipment to the same circuit or outlet, as the circuit or outlet could become overloaded.
  • Be sure that ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are used in high-risk areas such as wet locations. (GFCIs are electrical devices designed to sense small current leaks to ground and de-energize the circuit within as little as 1/40 of a second before injury can result.)
  • Test the meter on a known live circuit to make sure that it's operating.
  • Test the circuit that is to become the de-energized circuit with the meter.
  • Inspect all equipment periodically for defects or damage.
  • Replace all cords that are worn, frayed, abraded, corroded, or otherwise damaged.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and maintenance of all electrical tools and appliances.
  • Keep equipment operating instructions on file.
  • Always unplug electrical appliances before attempting any repair or maintenance.
  • All electrical equipment used on campus should be UL or FM approved.
  • Keep cords out of the way of foot traffic so that they don't become tripping hazards or be damaged by traffic.
  • Never use electrical equipment in wet areas or run cords across wet floors.

Safety and Maintenance Procedures for Power Tools and Cords

Hand and power tools are a common part of our everyday lives and are present in nearly every industry. These tools help us easily perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. However, these simple tools can be hazardous and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. Special attention toward hand and power tool safety is necessary to reduce or eliminate these hazards.

  • Do not use electric-powered tools in damp or wet locations.
  • Keep guards in place, in working order, and properly adjusted. Safety guards must never be removed while using the tool.
  • Avoid accidental starting. don't hold a finger on the switch button while carrying a power tool.
  • Safety switches must be kept in working order and must not be modified. If you feel it necessary to modify a safety switch for a job you're doing, use another tool.
  • Work areas should have adequate lighting and be free of clutter.
  • Observers should remain a safe distance away from the work area.
  • Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, ties, or jewelry when operating tools.
  • Wear appropriate gloves and footwear while using tools.

Ladder Safety and Maintenance Procedures

Ill. 1: Straight ladder

Ill. 2: Typical step ladder

Ill. 3: For every four feet of working length the ladder is extended upward, the base must be moved out 1 foot.

Ladders can be divided into two main types: straight and step. Straight ladders are constructed by placing rungs between two parallel rails. They generally contain safety feet on one end that help prevent the ladder from slipping (see Ill. 1).

Step ladders are self-supporting, constructed of two sections hinged at the top. The front section has two tails and steps; the rear portion has two rails and braces (see Ill. 2).

Safe Ladder Placement Ladders, including step ladders, shall be placed in such a way that each side rail (or stile) is on a level and firm footing and that the ladder is rigid, stable, and secure.

The side rails (or stiles) shall not be supported by boxes, loose bricks, or other • loose packing.

No ladder shall be placed in front of a door opening toward the ladder unless the • door is fastened open, locked, or guarded.

According to OSHA Standard CFR 1926.1053(b)(5)( i ) states that "Non-self-supporting ladders shall be used at an angle such that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder approximately one-quarter of the working length of the ladder (the distance along the ladder between the foot and the top support)." In other words, for every four feet of working length the ladder is extended upward, the base must be moved out 1 foot (as indicated in Ill. 3).

Where a ladder passes through an opening in the floor of a landing place, the opening shall be as small as is reasonably practicable.

A ladder placed in such a way that its top end rests against a window frame shall have a board fixed to its top end. The size and position of this board shall ensure that the load to be carried by the ladder is evenly distributed over the window frame.

Safely Securing Ladders

Ladder shall be securely fixed at the top and foot so that it can't move either from its top or from its bottom points of rest. If this is not possible, then it shall be securely fixed at the base. If this is also not possible, then a person should stand at the base of the ladder and secure it manually against slipping.

Ladders set up in public thoroughfares or other places (where there is potential for accidental collision with them) must be provided with effective means to prevent the displacement of the ladders due to collisions, for example, use of barricades.

Safe Use of Ladders

Only one person at a time may use or work from a single ladder.

Always face the ladder when ascending or descending it.

Carry tools in a tool belt, pouch, or holster, not in your hands, so you can keep hold of the ladder.

Wear fully enclosed slip-resistant footwear when using the ladder.

Do not climb higher than the third rung from the top of the ladder.

Do not use ladders made by fastening cleats across a single rail or stile.

When there is significant traffic on ladders used for building work, separate ladders for ascent and descent shall be provided, designated, and used.

Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user and materials). There should be only one person on the ladder at one time.

Use a ladder that has proper length for the job. Proper length is a minimum of 3 feet extending over the roofline or working surface. The three top rungs of a straight, single, or extension ladder should not be stood on.

Set up straight, single, or extension ladders at about an angle of 76°.

Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment. don't let a ladder, made from any material, contact live electric wires.

Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.

Make sure that the ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Large flat wooden boards braced under the ladder can level a ladder on uneven or soft ground. A good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.

Don't stand on the two top rungs of a step ladder.

• Follow the instruction labels on ladders.

Ill. 4 and 5 illustrate these safety guidelines.

Ill. 4: The ladders should extend at least 3 feet above the top support.

Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

Ill. 5: Safe practices for using step ladders Ill. 6: Typical electrician's hard hat with attached safety goggles

Ill. 7: Safety glasses provide side protection

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is defined as all equipment, including clothing for shielding against weather, intended to be worn or held by people at work and that protects them against one or more risks to their health or safety. This equipment includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• Helmets

• Gloves

• Eye protection

• High-visibility clothing

• Safety footwear

• Safety harnesses

To choose the right type of PPE, carefully consider the different hazards in the workplace. This will enable you to assess which types of PPE are suitable to protect against the hazard and for the job to be done. Ill. 6 through 11 show examples of PPE.

Ill. 8: Leather gloves with rubber inserts

Ill. 9: Kevlar gloves protect against cuts

Ill. 10: Typical safety harness

Ill. 11: Safety harness

Safe Methods for Lifting and Moving Materials and Equipment to Prevent Personal Injury and Property Damage

General safety principles can help reduce workplace accidents. These include work practices, ergonomic principles, and training and education. Whether moving materials manually or mechanically, employees should be aware of the potential hazards associated with the task at hand and know how to exercise control over their work places to minimize the danger.

Proper methods of lifting and handling protect against injury and make work easier. You need to "think" about what you are going to do before bending to pick up an object. Over time, safe lifting technique should become a habit.

Learn the correct way to lift: Get solid footing, stand close to the load, bend your knees, and lift with your legs, not your back (see Ill. 12).

Ill. 12: How to lift safely.

Procedures to Prevent and Respond to Fires and Other Hazards

For a fire to burn, three things are needed: fuel, heat, and oxygen. Fuel is anything that can burn, including materials such as wood, paper, cloth, combustible dusts, and even some metals. Fires are divided into four classes: A, B, C, and D (see Ill. 13).

Ill. 13: Four classes of fires

Class A Fires-- This class involves common combustible materials such as wood or paper. Class A fire extinguishers often use water to extinguish a fire (see Ill. 14).

Class B Fires-- This class involves fuels such as grease, combustible liquids, or gases. Class B fire extinguishers generally employ carbon dioxide (CO2).

Class C Fires-- This class involves energized electrical equipment. Class C fire extinguishers usually use a dry powder to smother the fire.

Class D Fires-- This class consists of burning metal. Class D extinguishers place a powder on top of the burning metal that forms a crust to cut off the oxygen supply to the metal.

Ill. 14: Fire extinguisher symbols

Prevent a Fire from Starting in Your Home

The most common causes of residential fires are careless cooking and faulty heating equipment. When cooking, never leave food on a stove or in an oven unattended. Avoid wearing clothes with long, loose-fitting sleeves. Have your heating system checked annually, and follow manufacturer's instructions when using portable heaters.

Smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths and the second-most common cause of residential fires. If you are a smoker, don't smoke in bed, never leave burning cigarettes unattended, don't empty smoldering ashes in the trash, and keep ash trays away from upholstered furniture and curtains. In addition, keep matches and lighters away from children. Safely store flammable substances used throughout the home. and finally, never leave burning candles unattended.

Procedure to Prevent Uncontrolled Chemical Reactions

A chemical reactivity hazard is a situation with the potential for an uncontrolled chemical reaction that can result directly or indirectly in serious harm to people, property, or the environment.

To maintain a safe and healthful working environment, the Department of Energy recommends the following practices wherever chemicals are stored. These practices are based on regulations, rules, and guidelines designed to reduce or eliminate hazardous incidents associated with the improper storage of chemicals.

1. Adhere to the manufacturer's recommendations for each chemical stored, noting any precautions on the label.

2. Label all chemicals. The name and address of the manufacturer or other responsible party must be listed on the label. Chemicals with a shelf life should be labeled with the date received.

3. Store chemicals in the locations recommended (i.e., where the temperature range, vibration, or amount of light does not exceed the manufacturer's recommendations).

4. Inspect annually all chemicals in stock and storage. Hazardous chemicals should be inspected every six months. Some hazardous chemicals may require more frequent inspections. Any outdated materials should be properly disposed of or replaced if necessary.

5. Ensure that provisions are made for liaison with local planning committees, the state emergency planning commission, and local fire departments in the event of a chemical emergency.

6. Keep only enough inventory necessary for uninterrupted operation. Chemical inventory should be maintained at a minimum to reduce fire, exposure, and disposal hazards.

7. Rotate new shipments of chemicals with existing stock so that the oldest stock is available first.

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