Elimination of Hazards Toolbox Talk

Understand common hazards on the jobsite and how to eliminate them.

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Elimination of Hazards Safety Talk

The reality of construction work is that it can be quite dangerous. That’s why it’s important to make sure you and everyone on the worksite are fully aware of how to eliminate any potential hazards. This talk won’t be centered around mitigating risk, rather how you can avoid the risk altogether. Keeping your worksite safe will keep you and your coworkers safe while also increasing productivity.

Examples of Hazards

If your work involves any kind of building, demolishing, or other physical work, you will likely face a variety of physical hazards, such as:

  • Working at height
  • Falling objects
  • Moving objects and vehicles
  • Structural collapse
  • Harmful materials
  • Manual handling
  • When in doubt, cut it out. For example, you can eliminate hazards such as manual handling by using alternative, mechanical, means of lifting, moving, or operating heavy or unwieldy loads, or by splitting a bulky load into smaller, more manageable parts. If a hazard can’t be avoided completely, you can minimize risk by wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and by talking to your foreman about ways to reduce the safety risks if you are unsure.

    Know The Risks

    On some job sites, your foreman or supervisor will have to educate you on the safety rules and procedures to follow. It is their responsibility to help lower the risk for injury but it is your responsibility to follow these rules and procedures.

    Keeping yourself and your coworkers safe begins with getting the proper training and knowing the potential safety hazards that you could face on a job site. This can include knowing engineering controls to protect yourself and knowing when to wear the proper PPE. For example, as a worker, it is your responsibility to know pinch point hazards and how to avoid them. You should not simply just wear a pair of gloves or PPE and rely on those to keep you safe. While gloves can limit the amount of damage done to your fingers it is better to be able to identify the hazard before you start. Using PPE should always be a last line of defense in keeping yourself and fellow workers safe.

    Eliminate The Risks

    Instead of simply trying to avoid the risks or hoping these hazards don’t lead to any bodily damage, you should work on removing the risks altogether. This can be difficult, as construction work is inherently dangerous. There is heavy machinery, potentially harmful chemicals and materials, and heights that you and you co workers will have to deal with.

    While working with some of these hazards may be unavoidable, it’s ultimately up to the supervisor or foreman to mitigate these risks. Make sure that you know the proper plan of action before beginning a potentially dangerous task. Think of safer alternatives if possible. Be sure that you have a clear mindset of the risks and that you are willing to work with others to eliminate the potential for injuries. If you have any safety concerns bring them to the attention of your supervisor.

    Examples of Eliminating Hazards

    As we mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to completely eliminate risks on a job site. That’s why it’s important that you do what you can. Here are some examples to help you get a better idea of how you can eliminate hazards on the worksite:

  • John Smith sees a hammer hanging halfway off of a piece of equipment that is being worked on and tells the mechanic it is up there. Instead of just not trying to knock the hammer off the elevated surface, the mechanic decides to remove it and put it back on the tool bench. This ensures he or anyone else will not be struck by it falling off the elevated surface.
  • Two cooks have cut their fingers while sharpening knives at XYZ Restaurant. The manager of the restaurant decided to make a new policy that knife sharpening is completed by a third party company and not by the cooks in the restaurant. The sharpeners are removed from the restaurant, and the cooks are trained on the new policy.
  • ACME Construction Company is excavating and moving excessive dirt for a footer of a large warehouse. Due to excessive rain, the site conditions make it very dangerous for dump trucks to operate. The superintendent decides to shut down dump trucks for the day and have only the dozer operators to come in to dress up the sit.
  • Start at the Beginning

    When you are hired for a new construction job or start working on a new job site the best way to know about the risks involved is to ask your foreman before you start the job. Read over company policies and know what responsibility you have for protecting yourself against risks as well as what responsibility your employer has. Should you have any questions make sure you ask before you start working.

    It is important to remember that policies are put in place to not only protect you but to also protect your coworkers and anyone else working on the job site. If you do not follow policies you could be putting everyone at risk. A blatant disregard of policies can put everyone in immediate danger and should not happen on any job site.

    Shortcuts Are Hazards

    Sometimes you’re tired after a long day’s work. You’re ready to clock out so you’re willing to make a few shortcuts here or there so you can head home for the day. Or maybe a deadline is approaching. You know you need to be done with a certain task as soon as possible so you cut a few corners to get the job done quickly.

    Unfortunately, these shortcuts can be incredibly dangerous. Anytime you’re cutting corners when working with heavy machinery, you place yourself and everyone at the site in risk. Heavy machinery and potentially hazardous materials require full attention. Cutting corners almost always leads to a complete disregard for safety.

    Conclusion

    Hazard elimination is the best way to keep you, your coworkers, and other workers on the site safe. While there are steps you can take to minimize risk - such as PPE - these methods should be viewed as a last resort. Eliminating the hazards on your work site starts at the bottom. Make sure that you are 100% aware of the risks you and others could face and how these risks can be avoided. Everyone on the site should be fully aware that, when dealing with hazards, everyone is at risk and if everyone works together risks can be minimized.

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