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Looking for a cold weather safety talk? Here are a few you are sure to find helpful. Feel free to copy and paste our messages into your own toolbox or safety talk template, and share with your crews.
Prevent Injuries Due to Cold Weather
When you work outdoors for a living, you may just feel that cold weather hazards are part of the job. While this may be true to a certain degree since we can’t actually change the weather, there are things that can be done to protect yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while working outdoors during the winter months:
Listen to the
You should always
check the weather forecast before going out in the cold. If conditions are
hazardous, a wind chill warning will be issued. If the wind chill is very cold,
exposed skin can freeze in minutes. Keep this in mind before performing any
for Work in Cold Weather
also have a plan in advance to ensure that safety concerns are addressed when
the wind chill
is high. For
example, outside workers could schedule warm-up breaks.
It’s a good idea to wear layers of warm clothing – in addition to an outer jacket that is wind-resistant. Mittens, boots and a hat are also important. As you more than likely know, we lose a large portion of our body heat from the head so wearing a hat should be a no-brainer. When the wind chill is high, try to cover as much exposed skin as possible. Wear a scarf, neck tube or facemask (if permitted at you place of work). You should always consider the hazards of the work task and chose appropriate clothing. Check yourself frequently for signs of frostbite.
working outdoors for long periods, you should find a shelter that can protect
you from the wind. If the wind chill is very cold, limit the time you spend
outside and seek shelter to warm-up.
the work you’re doing, sometimes your clothing can get wet. This can cause chills
in your body to happen rapidly. You should always remove outer layers of
clothing or open your coat if you are sweating or wet.
Stay Active During
Did you know that walking or running will help keep you warm? It’s true! Activity will help your body to generate body heat, and therefore, keep you warm.
Not everyone has the same tolerance for the cold. Some people are more susceptible to the cold weather, particularly children, the elderly and those with circulation problems. Only you know when it’s time to take a break from frigid temperatures – don’t just follow the crowd and break when others do.
What constitutes as too cold to work? Or when is it safe? Below is a guide to show you what temperatures are classified as safe or dangerous.
Very Mild: More than 7 degrees Celsius above normal (see definition of normal below).
Mild: More than 4 to 7 degrees Celsius above normal.
Cold: 4 to 7 degrees Celsius below normal.
Bitterly Cold or Very Cold: More than 7 degrees Celsius below normal.
Normal: A long-term average, usually over a 30-year period. Note, this temperature is relative to the time of year.
So, what is precipitation
and how can it affect your work? See the guidelines below to acquire a better
Rain: Liquid precipitation of significant duration and extent.
Rain Showers: Stop & start suddenly and vary widely in intensity, lasting less than one hour.
Intermittent Rain: Stops and starts repeatedly, although not as abruptly or as frequently as showers.
Drizzle: Droplets are fine and minute, much smaller than rain, and appear to float in the air.
Freezing Drizzle / Rain: Freezes on impact, forms a coat of ice on the ground and on objects they strike. They occur when the air temperature is below zero Celsius near the ground, but above zero Celsius higher up.
Snow: Precipitation in the form of small white ice crystals of significant duration and extent.
Flurry or Snow Shower: Snow fall that suddenly stops and starts, changing rapidly in intensity; the accumulation and extent of which are limited.
Snow Squall: Strong winds, flurries and poor visibility.
Blowing Snow: Lifted by the wind from the earth’s surface to a height of 2 meters or more.
Drifting Snow: Blown to a height of less than 2 meters.
Blizzard: A severe storm lasting 3 or more hours, with low temperatures, strong winds and poor visibility due to blowing snow.
Ice Pellets: Frozen raindrops, snowflakes and or snow encased in ice, which bounce when hitting the ground
Ice Crystals: Tiny sprinkles that hang in the air and sparkle.
Hail: Precipitation in the form of lumps of ice, larger than ice pellets, usually the size of peas and or cherries, however, may be as large as oranges.
When is the wind
considered to be a hazard while on the job? See the guide below to learn more:
Inland Wind Speeds:
• Light – (0
to 9 KM/H)
• Moderate –
(10 to 40 KM/H)
• Strong /
Windy – (41 to 60 KM/H)
• Very Strong
/ Gales – (61 to 90 KM/H)
• Very Strong
/ Storm Force – (over 91 KM/H)
• Hurricane Force – (over 115 KM/H)
Marine Wind Speeds:
• Light –
(less than 15 knots)
• Moderate –
(15 to 19 Knots)
• Strong –
(20 to 33 Knots)
• Gales – (34
to 47 Knots)
• Storm Force
– (48 to 63 Knots)
• Hurricane –
(64 Knots and over)
Wind chill describes
how a human being would feel in the wind at the ambient temperature. The wind
chill index does not take into account the effect of sunshine. Bright sunshine
may reduce the effect of wind chill (make it feel warmer) by 6 to 10 units.
For a given combination of temperature and wind speed, the wind chill index corresponds roughly to the temperature that one would feel in a very light wind. For example, a temperature of -25°C and a wind speed of 20 km/h give a wind chill index of -37. This means that, with a wind of 20 km/h and a temperature of -25°C, one would feel as if it were -37°C in a very light wind.
The Dangers of Working in Cold Temperatures
Working outdoors for a living? You’re not alone. This isn’t so bad during the warmer seasons, but when winter comes – look out! Workers need to be reminded regularly of the signs of stress and injury due to excessively cold temperatures while working outside in the wind.
Please remind your crews about the following types, warning signs, symptoms and first aid treatments for cold-related injuries/stresses:
Frostnip: This is a mild form of
frostbite, where only the skin freezes.
Susceptible body parts: Extremities such as
fingers, toes, ear lobes and or tip of the nose.
Symptoms: Painful tingling or burning sensation. Skin appears yellowish or
white, but feels soft to the touch.
First aid: Do not rub or massage the area. Warm area gradually –use body
heat. Report to medical clinic for evaluation / treatment.
Frostbite: Skin and underlying
tissue (fat, muscle, bone) are frozen.
Susceptible body parts: Extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and or tip of the nose.
Symptoms: Skin appears white and waxy and is hard to the touch. No sensation, the area is numb.
First aid: Immediately seek medical attention. Do not rub or massage the area, warm slowly, use body heat.
Hypothermia: Feeling cold over a prolonged period can cause a drop in core body temperature (below 37 degrees Celsius).
Symptoms: Shivering, confusion and loss of muscular control can occur. Poor performance; irrational decisions, not mentally alert. Can progress to a life-threatening condition where shivering stops, the person loses consciousness, and cardiac arrest may occur
First Aid: Immediately seek medical attention! Get the person indoors. Lay person down; avoid rough handling, particularly if the person is unconscious. Gently remove wet clothing if applicable. Warm person gradually, using available heat source.
Beware of Cold Stress and Hypothermia
When working outdoors for a living, you need to be mindful of cold stress and hypothermia. Even if your body temperature drops just a few degrees below normal (which is about 98.6_F), you can feel the effects of the cold. You may experience shivering, slurred speech, weakness, drowsiness, and confusion. It may even be difficult to do the simple things.
What’s interesting is that people who have been impacted by hypothermia may not even feel cold. If you suspect hypothermia, call an ambulance or a doctor immediately. You should also take the person into a warm place or at the very least, provide shelter. Keep their head covered and remove all wet clothing. Bundle them with dry blankets or provide them with dry clothing to change into. Do not rub or massage the person, and definitely don’t put them into hot water. Instead, try giving them warm beverages (not give alcohol or caffeine). If the person is unconscious, use advanced first aid techniques (e.g., CPR) only if you are trained to do so.
Dressing warmly, staying dry and bringing along extra dry clothes.
Letting someone know where you will be and when you expect to be back. If with a buddy, check each other frequently for signs of overexposure to the cold (shivering, slurred speech, confusion, drowsiness, weakness).
Dressing in layers. Layering your clothes allows you to adjust what you are wearing to suit the temperature conditions. In cold weather, wear cotton or lightweight wool next to your skin and wool layers over your undergarments. Wear waterproof, wind resistant outer-garment fabrics such as nylon if working outside.
Wearing a hat can be very helpful since a lot of body heat is lost through the head.
Wearing waterproof boots in damp or snowy weather and always pack rain gear.
Please remember, it doesn’t have to be winter to suffer from hypothermia. Anyone not prepared for a change in weather or conditions, in even relatively mild temperatures, can be at risk (especially if you are wet).
Cold Weather Safety Talk
When Summer and fall have passed us by, we find ourselves saying hello to winter (brrr, I’m cold just thinking about it!). Even though it’s cold outside, we still have to work and get the job done. There are several things we can do to keep warm and prevent cold weather-related incidents.
The first thing we want to do is to keep our body temperature at or about normal, 98.6°F/37°C. This can be accomplished by wearing layers of clothing both inside and outdoors. Wear cotton or lightweight wool next to the skin and wool layers over your underwear.
Keep dry by having proper rain gear available and a pair of good, waterproof boots. An extra pair of clean, dry socks can really come in handy.
Don’t forget to protect your neck and ears, as you can lose a lot of heat from these two areas. Also, a good pair of gloves is essential.
Do you know the signs of frostbite? Usually our skin will become white and there won’t be much circulation. In the worst case, blisters will form but sometimes we won’t feel any pain. So, how can you treat first aid? Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:
Don’trub the frozen part of the body with snow
Add extra clothing or use a blanket to cover the
Get out of the cold and into a warm location
The frozen area may be immersed in warm water but don’tuse hot water
If the condition does not improve, seek professional
Cold weather is here to stay for a few months — keep your guard up against cold weather injury.
A Cold Weather Safety Talk About the Danger of Propane Fueled Vehicles in the Cold Weather
Working with propane fueled vehicles in the cold weather? If yes, there are a few safety tips you may want to consider.
First of all, it’s helpful to know that propane is a gas that is turned into a liquid when stored in pressurized cylinders. You should be aware that as the temperature of the fuel tank rises, the liquid fuel expands which increases pressure inside the tank. In cold weather, this could result in a fire or explosion if a propane powered vehicle with more than 80% liquid fuel in the fuel tank is brought into a heated building from outside. The increased air temperature in the shop causes increased pressure inside the fuel tank. This will open the safety relief valve if the tank has been overfilled, and the released propane gas can burn if any ignition sources are present.
General safety tips to remember while working with propane fueled vehicles:
Cold Weather Reminders:
bringing a propane-fueled vehicle indoors for service, be sure the propane
system is leak free. In weather above freezing, use a soap and water solution
to check connections, valves, and lines. In colder weather, use a commercial
leak detector solution that is available from safety supply houses, or use a
combustible gas indicator that is calibrated for propane. Be sure the fuel tank
is not filled beyond the maximum recommended filling capacity (usually 80%).
Check the Fuel
The level of
liquid fuel can be checked as follows:
Park the vehicle on a level area outdoors with no possible sources of ignition nearby.
While wearing neoprene gloves, disconnect the fuel line and briefly open the tank valve. If the container is safely filled, you will hear an audible hiss when the valve is opened. No white fog will appear.
If the tank is overfilled, you will see a white fog when the valve is opened.
If the tank is overfilled, do not take the vehicle indoors until the liquid level is reduced below 80%. Consider letting the vehicle run to accomplish this.
When the liquid has reached a safe level, recheck all valves, especially the pressure relief valve to be sure there are no leaks before moving the vehicle indoors.
The fuel lines should be free of fuel when the vehicle is indoors for repairs or servicing. Fuel lines should be charged only when propane is required to operate the engine. To do this safely, turn the tank valve to the closed position. Clockwise closes the valve. Allow the engine to operate until it stops from lack of fuel.
or service work has been completed, recharge the fuel line by opening the fuel
line valve VERY SLOWLY, until the line fills with propane. If the excess
flow valve should close, shut off the tank valve and wait 10 – 15 seconds for
the valve to reset. Then, SLOWLY open the tank valve again.
If propane gas is released in an enclosed area (for example, if the relief valve opens), the following actions should be quickly taken:
Evacuate the area.
Remember that propane vapours are heavier than air and will settle
at floor level.
Eliminate all sources of ignition (torches, water heaters, pilot
Close off the source of the leak if possible and open all doors to
ventilate the area.
Do not restart any ignition sources until after the propane door
has been eliminated.
Be sure to follow all safe operating procedures as recommended by the equipment manufacturer and consult with them, and/or the distributor if you have questions.
Need another cold weather safety talk? Click here for more.
Looking for toolbox talks ergonomics topics? Here are a few you’ll enjoy. Feel free to share with your crew during your next toolbox talk.
Ergonomics at Work
you be mindful of ergonomics? Well, it can actually reduce potential injury or
illness that can result from work that puts stress on your muscles, nerves or
joints. When you’re working in construction for a living, these types of
injuries can be quite common – especially musculoskeletal disorders or
cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). These injuries occur as a result of
repetitive motion or stress and injuries often happen slowly over time.
If you’ve experienced cumulative trauma, there are physical problems you’ll notice. This includes pain and damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves in the back, neck, shoulders, wrists, hands, and elbows. Typical ailments include: Tendonitis, “Tennis Elbow,” Trigger Finger, lower back pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which causes hands and wrists to tingle or become numb, and Reynaud’s Syndrome which causes fingers to become white.
So, why do these injuries happen? Usually it results from a worker making the same motion over and over, or staying in one position too long, and working in awkward positions. It can also occur when workers use tools that aren’t right for the body – and you may be exposed to a lot of force or vibration over time.
associated with poor ergonomics can happen to anyone (even office staff)! So,
how can you protect yourself? The most important thing you can do is practice
basic ergonomics including:
You have two hands, so you should use both while completing a task. Doing so can reduce the strain on muscles.
Use the right tools for your job – those which are proportioned to your body.
Use power tools (instead of manual tools) if possible.
Take a break and rest when you’re engaged in repetitive motion tasks.
Avoid working in awkward positions.
Wear gloves to reduce pressure or vibration on your hands/fingers.
Stretch often or change positions while working. Doing so will improve blood circulation.
If you experience symptoms associated with repetitive motion injuries, you need to report this to your Supervisor as soon as possible. Things like numbness, tingling or pain in hands, arms or neck are all signs you shouldn’t ignore. A simple conversation with your Supervisor could result in a change in workstations or equipment, which can alleviate these problems (before they become chronic). Please remember to seek medical attention if these symptoms persist.
Toolbox Talks Ergonomics Tips and Tricks!
If you’re looking for toolbox talks ergonomics topics, this next one is sure to please. Feel free to share with your team.
When you’re working in the construction industry, ergonomics should be at the top of your mind. Why? Well, a lot of injuries result from interacting with improper tools, equipment and work methods. Ergonomics takes these challenges at work into account and helps people make better decisions to prevent injuries.
The main goal of an
ergonomics program is to minimize job-related injuries and illnesses by
adapting the work to fit the individual, instead of forcing the individual to
adapt to the work. The idea of ergonomics is to examine, and control work
conditions known to cause injuries and health problems because of the excessive
needs placed on individuals.
It appears that the
greatest difficulty will be picking the very best ergonomic technique to
utilize for each specific circumstance. There are limitless possibilities. A
careful analysis of each task will help when choosing the most effective
method. Let’s take a look at a couple of possible techniques that can help you
work safer during the day.
Eliminate the need to carry. This might not be
practical, but it must be the first method to consider.
Rearrange the job to eliminate unneeded carrying. This
might include relocation of storage, production, or shipping areas.
Minimize the weight of the object being carried. If
the weight of the object is too heavy, this should be managed by mechanical
devices like forklifts, hand trucks, cranes, and four-wheel dollies.
Ask for help. Appoint the job of carrying large or
awkwardly shaped items to 2 or more individuals.
Eliminate tripping risks. By using great housekeeping
practices, your work area will be clean and safe to work in.
Everyone is encouraged to get involved and offer some tips to assist in preventing injuries and illnesses by improving “ergonomic” safety. You can play an important role in offering input for the decision-making procedure because of your familiarity with equipment, tools, and work techniques. An ergonomics program will only be successful if everyone collaborates as a team to come up with the best ideas. A big part of the preliminary ergonomics program will involve searching for ways to correct problems that have actually already caused injuries and health problems.
The program will ultimately concentrate on finding pro-active solutions to scenarios that might result in injury if ergonomic issues are not addressed ahead of time.
How to Prevent CTD’s Associated with Poor Ergonomics?
Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD’s) are strains that may result from long-term repetitive motion or from continually working in an awkward position. Strains commonly occur in the wrists, arms, shoulders or back, affecting the body’s joints and surrounding muscles and tendons.
CTD’s are said to be today’s fastest growing occupational problem, affecting all types of workers, from computer operators to construction workers. Modern equipment, tools and machinery have increased production capabilities in many ways. But in some cases, they have also increased the potential for strain injuries in people. These disorders not only cause great discomfort, they can also affect a person’s employability and personal lifestyle choices.
Tips to Reduce Exposure to CTD’s:
Do warm-up exercises before beginning physically demanding tasks (take a tip from athletes).
Plan ahead. If you will be doing a job that is awkward–think of ways to make it easier.
Rotate your work position, to change how muscles are used during your work shift.
Use the proper tool for the job to avoid awkward movements and the need for overexertion.
Take a rest break when fatigue sets in. Just a few minutes can make a difference.
Carefully stretch tired or overworked muscles to improve circulation and relieve tension.
When appropriate, use anti-shock or anti-vibration gloves, back supports, wrist supports, or other personal protective equipment that helps prevent cumulative trauma.
Always use proper lifting techniques. Back strain is one of the most common CTD’s.
When using hand tools keep your wrists in a “neutral” position, as opposed to repeatedly bending them up, down or sideways during work tasks.
Just because a co-worker is not affected by a physically demanding task, don’t ignore messages your body sends you. Although humans share many physical characteristics, people are often different in terms of their physical strengths and weaknesses.
All muscle discomfort and fatigue is not a cumulative trauma disorder. Everyone experiences occasional aches and pains from both work and play-especially when you are not used to the activity. Nevertheless, awkward, repetitive work positions can result in long-term physical problems, so it’s up to you to avoid these in whatever ways you can. If the ache doesn’t go away within a day or two, follow the above suggestions.
you have early symptoms of chronic discomfort, report it immediately to your
supervisor. The sooner a better tool or work position can be
incorporated into your work activities; the sooner those symptoms can be
Listen to what your body tells you and learn how to avoid CTD’s!
Motion Injuries and Ergonomics Toolbox Talks
the time to think about everyday tasks and their affects on our bodies is a
good way to prevent injuries. The following scenarios will demonstrate how
inadequate planning leads to pain and disability, affecting on- and off-the-job
At the breakfast table, you rush to clean everything up before going to work. You stretch awkwardly across the table to lift your infant baby out of the highchair. Half standing, you start to lift your baby, but then stop, reacting to a sharp pain in your back. Instead of using your leg muscles to lift, you used your back muscles and are consequently suffering back pain.
In the warehouse, you notice some boxes on the floor. These boxes are in the way of pedestrian traffic and so you proceed to move them. You know that the boxes could be heavy, but you do not want to bother anyone to help you. You bend over at the waist to lift one box but have to stop because the load is too heavy, and you feel a sudden pain in your back. As a result, you strain your back muscle — an injury that may keep you off the job for several days.
this next scenario, you are a production-line worker who packs boxes as they
pass by on a conveyor. Throughout the day, you perform the same set of lifting
and twisting motions with your arms. You begin to experience pain in your
forearms and sometimes it aches so much that you can’t sleep. The repetitive
nature of your work has stressed your arm tendons, muscles and nerves.
What could have been done to avoid the motion injuries mentioned above? You could have thought about the task at hand and applied the Take Two principle (Talk, Actions, Knowledge, Equipment) checklist:
Talk to your supervisor about how to perform the job safely.
Think about how your actions will affect safety.
Know the right rules and procedures for the job.
Use the proper equipment and keep it in good condition.
Keeping the above scenarios in mind, ask yourselves and your
co-workers these questions:
Do we always think carefully about posture and proper
techniques when lifting?
Why do we sometimes ignore our body and safety?
Busy work schedule
Think, “It won’t happen to me.”
Lack of knowledge
What is the procedure for lifting safely?
Make sure you are close to the object and are not
bending over to lift
Keep back straight and use leg muscles to lift
Don’t twist or stretch excessively.
How can we help prevent repetitive motion injuries?
Take breaks to stretch and relax
Rotate workstations; change positions
Living in a stressful society where time is money and deadlines are of the utmost importance, it is easy to get so caught up in what you are doing that you forget about taking care of your body. But think about the consequences of having an injury where you can’t work, play, or spend any time with your family and friends. Think of how badly an injury makes you feel (physically and emotionally) and all the extra work and lost wages you have to make up for when you come back to work. Isn’t your body worth an extra few minutes to do the tasks correctly and safely?
Toolbox Talk on Ergonomics and Tool Use
Have you ever suffered pain or extreme fatigue in your hand, wrist or arm after using a hand or power tool for a prolonged length of time? If so, this is a signal to look at the “ergonomics” of how you work. Simply speaking, ergonomics involves selecting the right equipment for both the task and the specific worker. It also means you must hold and use your tools in the best possible way.
Many of today’s tools are designed to reduce fatigue to the worker. Some even come in different sizes and shapes for a better “fit” between your hand and the device. The purpose of ergonomically designed tools is to minimize physical stress to the fingers, hands, wrists, arms and shoulders, which can lead to injury or chronic pain. The following actions are among those that may cause problems:
Strong and continued gripping, also called static
Repetitive motion, on a long-term basis
Working with the fingers, hand or wrist held in awkward
Vibrating tools or equipment
A gloved hand tends to grip objects more tightly.
Prevent static loading by avoiding gloves that are too large and require an
even stronger grip in order to use the tool. If you wear gloves, be sure they
fit correctly and have a non-slip palm. Consider fingerless gloves too.
Select a tool with textured, non-slip handles, since a
smooth handle can require you to grip and hold more tightly. Be sure handles
are the right size for your hands as well.
A tool such as a hammer should have a diameter of at
least 1½ inches. The handle should be long enough so that it doesn’t apply
pressure to the base of your palm or thumb when it is used.
Avoid a tool that is activated by a single trigger
finger if you must use it for long periods. Tools that are activated by a “power
grip” of several fingers or the entire palm will cause less strain.
Whenever possible, use “ergonomically”
designed hand tools, which keep the wrist in the “neutral” position
(i.e., unbent in any one direction). Examples are pliers and hammers with “bent”
handles or knives and powered screwdrivers with pistol-grip handles. Ergonomic
tools also help prevent unnecessary twisting of your wrist, arm, elbow and
shoulder while you work.
Repeated vibration over long periods damages blood
vessels and interferes with blood flow to the fingers. This deprives skin and
muscles of oxygen, which can cause permanent tissue damage and pain. Smoking
and cold temperatures also contribute to this problem, since they cause blood
vessels to constrict, which further impairs blood flow. Early symptoms, such as
numbness or tingling in the fingers, are warnings. Vibrating tools should have
handles that are designed to “dampen” the vibration. Many types of
vibration-dampening gloves are available if the tools you use are not equipped
with this feature.
Take care of your body–you’re going to need it!
Need more toolbox talks ergonomics topics? Click here for more!
Need toolbox talks fire extinguishers topics? Here are a few that you will find very useful. Feel free to share these with your crew during your next toolbox talk discussion, however, be sure to edit our general messaging so it’s specific to your own work conditions.
Fire! Quick – Where’s the Fire Extinguisher?
Picture yourself in this situation: You are at work, and you smell something burning. A short distance away, you see smoke. You run towards it and you find a small fire burning in a trash can. Would you know what to do? Do you know where the closest fire extinguisher is located? Do you know what type of extinguisher is needed? Is the fire too big for you to put out? Are there people in the area that should be warned of the danger?
These are the types of questions that will be going through your mind should you ever find yourself in that situation. However, remember that you will be stressed and that may impact your ability to react quickly. This is why it’s good practice to be prepared for a fire. Ask yourself right now: Do you know where the closest fire extinguisher is? What type is it? Can you use it on grease or gasoline fires? Why or why not? Is the extinguisher behind a glass door that needs to be broken? Can you break it bare handed (or should you even try)? By knowing the answers to these questions in advance, you’ll know how to react quickly in this emergency situation.
Did you know that the vast majority of portable, handheld fire extinguishers are loaded with a dry chemical powder that will extinguish the majority of fires you might encounter in your daily environment? This powder is not toxic but will make you sneeze and cough if you inhale it. This powder will extinguish Class “A”, “B”, and “C” fires.
Class “A” fires involve material
such as paper, plastic, wood and other common combustibles.
Class “B” fires involve grease,
oil or gasoline. Dry chemical extinguishers will work, but these fires can be
harder to extinguish and should be approached with extreme caution.
Class “C” fires involve burning
electrical motors or transformer. This type of fire changes from “C”
to Class “A” or “B” as soon as the power is cut off (or
shorts out). Dry chemical can be used here also because it will not conduct
electricity and will put out “A” or “B” type fires.
Think of a dry chemical extinguisher as
spray paint, hair spray, or shaving cream cans – it does not need to be turned
upside down to use it. Anytime you need to use a fire extinguisher, remember to
sweep the extinguisher’s nozzle back-and-forth at what is actually burning–not
at the flames or smoke. The goal is to put a “barrier” between the
fuel and the surrounding oxygen.
You should NEVER empty the extinguisher
onto the burned item after the flames have stopped. The fire might start again
and you would be left without any extinguishing powder. Before you even start trying
to extinguish the fire, designate someone to call the fire department. Fire
fighters know what to do and what to look for–even after you think you have doused
it. There have been cases where fires that were supposedly extinguished, actually
came back to life hours later.
You should also know where the fire
extinguishers are located throughout your facility or work area. Don’t hang
your coat over them, or stack material in front of them. Extinguishers are
never needed until they are needed NOW. Keeping them easily visible and easily
accessible at all times helps ensure that when a fire emergency occurs, a fire
extinguisher can be easily and quickly reached.
Please remember that fire extinguishers are made for relatively small fires. If the fire is too big or moving too fast to control, hold others away and wait for the Fire Department.
Fire Extinguisher Safety
If a fire started on the job today, would you know where to find a fire extinguisher? Would you know how to use it?
Dry chemical extinguishers are effective
against flammable liquids and electrical fires. They can also be used on small
wood and paper fires.
Remember that the extinguisher is only
as effective as the person using it. To extinguish a fire quickly, spray back
and forth across the fire in a rapid motion, pushing the flame back and
eventually extinguishing it.
Don’t break or tamper with the seal on any extinguisher unless you are going to use it. Once it has been used, it should be replaced immediately, even though the gauge shows only partial discharge. Check extinguishers frequently to ensure they are fully charged and ready to work when you need them.
In case of fire:
the fire immediately to your supervisor or fire department, giving the
location, your name and telephone extension, if applicable.
consider the safety of all personnel, including yourself; first; then direct
your attention to the protection of property.
Do you know the phone number to call in a fire
The ABC’s of Fire Extinguishers
We often talk about how there is a right tool for every job – but did you know that there’s also a right extinguisher for every fire? The class of an extinguisher, identified on its nameplate, corresponds to the class or classes of fire the extinguisher controls. On most construction jobs, we are concerned with Class A, B and C fires.
Consequently, the best
extinguisher to have on a job is a multi-purpose Class ABC extinguisher, which
contains a dry, powdered chemical under pressure. The following describes the
classes of fire and the kind of extinguisher that can be used on each.
Class A Fires
These include wood, paper,
trash, and other materials that have glowing embers when they burn.
to Use: For Class A fires, you need to use a Class A or Class ABC
extinguisher. Always remember that a Class A extinguisher contains water and
should be used only on a Class A fire. Used on gasoline, it can spread the
fire; used on electrical fires, it can cause you to be electrocuted.
Class B Fires
These are fires involving
flammable liquids and gases, such things as gasoline, solvents, paint thinners,
grease, LPG, and acetylene. Extinguisher to Use: Use Class B or Class
Class C Fires
These are fires in energized electrical equipment. Extinguisher to Use: Use a Class BC or Class ABC extinguisher.
Important Tips to Remember
Use the fire extinguisher whose class corresponds to the class of
Never use a Class A extinguisher, which contains water or foam, on
a liquid or electrical fire.
Know where extinguishers are located and how to use them. Follow the
directions printed on the label.
Keep the area around the fire extinguisher clear for easy access.
Don’t hide the extinguisher by hanging coats, rope, or other
materials on it.
Take care of the extinguishers just as you do your tools.
Never remove tags from extinguishers. They indicate the last time
the extinguisher was serviced and inspected.
Report defective or suspect extinguishers to your Supervisor, so
that they can be replaced or repaired.
When inspecting extinguishers, look for cracked hoses, plugged
nozzles, and corrosion. Also, look for damage that may have been done by
equipment running into the extinguishers.
Don’t use extinguishers for purposes other than fighting fires.
Obviously, nobody wants a fire. However, if one starts, know what extinguishers to use and how to use them.
Fire Extinguishers and the Fire Triangle
In order to understand how fire extinguishers work, you first need to know a little bit about fire.
Four things must be
present at the same time in order to produce fire:
oxygen to sustain combustion
heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature
sort of fuel or combustible material
chemical, exothermic reaction that is fire
Oxygen, heat, and fuel are frequently
referred to as the “fire triangle.” Add in the fourth element, the
chemical reaction, and you actually have a fire “tetrahedron.” The
important thing to remember is take any of these four things away, and you will
not have a fire (or the fire will be extinguished).
Fire extinguishers put out fire by taking away one or more elements of the fire triangle/tetrahedron. Fire safety is all about keeping fuel sources and ignition sources separate.
Which Fire Extinguisher Should I Use?
Fire prevention and good housekeeping go hand in hand for obvious reasons. As we all know, fires can start anywhere and at anytime — this is why it’s so important to know how to use a fire extinguisher correctly and to know which extinguisher to use for different types of fires.
FIRES – These fires consist of wood, paper, rags, and ordinary
combustible materials. These are all the kinds of materials typically found on
a construction site.
Recommended Extinguishers – Water,
through use of a hose, pump-type water cans, pressurized extinguishers, and
(ABC) dry chemical extinguishers.
Fighting the Fire – Put lots
of water on the fire and soak it completely, even the embers.
FIRES – These consist of flammable liquids, oil and grease.
Recommended Extinguishers – (ABC) dry
chemical type, foam, and carbon dioxide. Any of these will do a good job
extinguishing the fire.
Fighting the Fire – Start at
the base of the fire and use a sweeping motion from left to right always
keeping the fire in front of you.
FIRES – Electrical fires, usually involving some type of electrical
Recommended Extinguishers – Carbon
dioxide and (ABC) dry chemical type.
Fighting the Fire – Use short
bursts on the fire. When the electrical current is shut off on “Class ‘C’
Fire, it can become a Class ‘A’ Fire if materials around the original fire are
FIRES – Combustible metals.
Recommended Extinguishers – Special
agents approved by recognized testing laboratories.
Fighting the Fire – Follow
the fire extinguisher manufacture’s recommendations.
The key to fire extinguishers is knowing how to use them correctly. Be sure they’re always available in your work area. It’s too late to go searching for one when a fire breaks out.
A Toolbox Talk about Fire Extinguishers
When is the last time you inspected your fire extinguishers? Are they fully charged, easily accessible, visible, and ready for use? Or, are they covered with dust and hidden in some corner providing a false sense of security?
It’s all too common for fire extinguishers
to be purchased with enthusiasm. However, because they are not regularly used, the
excitement of their presence dwindles. What we fail to remember is that fire
extinguishers are our first line of defense in the event of fire – shouldn’t
this warrant a periodic and thorough inspection of them? You should always keep
Fire extinguishers clean – this way, they attract attention and people can find
them easier when needed. Also, they must be kept accessible to eliminate lost
time when needed, and the rubber hose, horn or other dispensing component must
be checked to guard against blockage.
The following briefly classifies fires and recommends the extinguisher to be used on each type:
CLASS “A” FIRES: Ordinary combustible such as rubbish, paper, rags, scrap lumber, etc. These fires require a cooling agent to extinguish it. Recommended extinguishers: Water through use of hose, pump type water cans, pressurized extinguishers.
CLASS “B” FIRES: Flammable liquids, oils and grease. Fires that require a smothering effect to extinguish it. Recommended extinguishers: Carbon Dioxide, Dry Chemical and Foam.
CLASS “C” FIRES: Electrical equipment; Fires require a non-conducting, extinguishing agent. Recommended extinguishers: Carbon Dioxide and Dry Chemical.
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Looking for toolbox talks fire safety topics? Here are 5 you’ll enjoy — and they should make your day a little safer too. As always, we recommend that you edit our general messaging to make it a little more specific to your own work conditions.
A Toolbox Talk about Fire Safety and Prevention
As you know, fires are very costly to any industry, but especially the construction industry. So, how can you do your part to prevent them? The best thing to do is observe and comply with fire prevention rules and regulations. If you see a potential fire hazard, report it to your supervisor immediately.
Here are some excellent fire prevention
tips to keep in mind:
Practice good housekeeping. Properly discard of all trash and litter in areas before they accumulate.
Know where fire alarm boxes and extinguishers are located.
Know the different types of fire extinguishers and how to use them.
Store hazardous materials in designated areas and in proper containers.
Keep exits free of obstructions that could prevent people from exiting quickly.
Know the proper exits and procedures in case of an emergency.
Ensure electrical connections are working properly and grounded.
Smoke in designated areas ONLY. Did you know that the temperature of ash is often as high as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit?
Use fireproof receptacles to extinguish smoking materials.
Keep equipment clean and use it properly.
Handle flammable liquids with caution. Use only approved containers. Paint, paint thinner, alcohol, naphtha, lacquer thinner and gasoline should only be used for their intended purposes.
Clean oil and gasoline spills immediately. Place oil-soaked rags in proper safety containers.
Fire-resistant covers, spark shields and a fire watch should be used as appropriate to prevent fires.
Protect Yourself From Fires
The scary thing about fires is that you can’t really predict when they might happen. Meaning they do not occur with frequency or regularity which is why workers are not particularly concerned about them. Another word for this is complacency. It is difficult to motivate someone to take an active interest in fire prevention when they have never been involved in a serious fire. Workers tend to face other imminent hazards on a daily basis, and fires tend to be the last thing on their mind. This leads to the common misconception that fire prevention is someone else’s problem (hint: it’s not).
Almost every construction
worker has at one time or another seen someone injured by a fall or being
struck by an object. Very few have seen a person burned in a fire or seen
valuable property and months of work reduced to smoke and ashes. It’s for this
reason that we need to be reminded regularly of the danger of fires. Here are a
fire safety tips to keep in mind:
Observe all ‘NO SMOKING’ signs, especially near flammables.
Make sure the area is free from all combustibles when burning or
Place all construction debris in the proper area for disposal.
Know where fire extinguishers are located.
A fire today could mean loss of life, loss of a job, personal injury or property damage. Are you doing your part to prevent one? Check both your job and your home for fire hazards.
Fire Protection Plan Tips
Constant attention to the fundamentals of fire prevention is vital – especially in the construction industry.
For each job site, a fire
protection plan should be developed and contain the following information:
Procedure for reporting fires.
All fire fighting equipment locations should be clearly visible.
For multi-level sites, each floor must contain fire extinguishers in clearly
marked locations. (Consistent locations floor to floor)
Emergency escape procedures and routes.
Procedure for accounting for personnel
Rescue and medical duties, if applicable.
All workers, subcontractors,
property owners, and the local fire department should review the fire protection
plan. The plan must also be posted in full view of workers.
The Superintendent/Safety Representative must make fire hazard inspections of the entire project on a regular basis. Immediate correction of substandard conditions is mandatory.
7 Things to Remember to Prevent Fires
Particular care should be taken when welding and cutting in locations where combustibles are exposed. When such welding or cutting is done, the surrounding area must be protected with fire resistive material and an adequate number of approved fire extinguishers must be immediately available.
The operation and maintenance of temporary heating equipment must create no fire hazards. The use of solid fuel salamanders must be prohibited. Clothing must not be dried or placed on or near heaters.
All flammable and combustible materials must be stored, piled and handled with due regard to their fire characteristics. Flammable liquids must be stored in an approved manner and dispensed only in acceptable safety containers. Welding gases must be stored in isolated areas and segregated by type of gas. Lumber should be stacked in small piles that are interspersed with side aisles. Lumber storage should be as far as possible from any structure.
Temporary shacks or similar structures must be constructed of fire-resistant materials.
Debris must not be allowed to accumulate adjacent to any electrical equipment, buildings or structures.
Personnel must be trained on the types of fire extinguishers and their use.
Fire Safety Reminders
When it comes to fire safety, protection is the name of the game. We need to protect ourselves, co-workers, tools and equipment, storage trailers, and the location where we work in case of fire. So, how can we do this? Here are a few tips:
to the Fire Department:
Is the fire department’s emergency phone number posted next to the
Are there fire extinguishers available in our work areas?
Is there a fire extinguisher in the job truck?
Is there a full extinguisher in the job office trailer?
Do you have extinguishers and smoke alarms at home?
Flammables and Combustibles Safety
Are flammable liquids stored in approved containers?
Have combustible materials been removed from all cutting and
Are ‘No Smoking’ areas posted so all workers know not to smoke in
areas where flammable liquids or containers are stored?
Clean up all work areas several times per day. Don’t wait until
the areas are cluttered.
Know Your Fire
Exits and Escape Plans
Do you know the one closest to your work area?
Do you have a back-up exit in case the first one is blocked?
Do you have an escape plan at home?
Replace batteries twice a year.
Test smoke alarms once per month.
Remember that fire protection starts with you. Always plan what to do, who to call and where to go should a fire break out. Do your part to protect yourself and others from fire. It doesn’t take much for a small fire to start and become out of control. With proper training and knowledge, you can protect yourself, your workplace and your home.
The Fire Triangle
Let’s talk about what makes a fire and what we can do to prevent one. Fire can be compared to a triangle. What does this mean? Well, three sides are necessary to make a triangle and there are three ingredients needed to cause a fire (1. heat, 2. air, and 3. Fuel). If any one of these three sides are missing, there can be no fire.
Heat, the first side of the fire
triangle, can come from many sources. It can be generated by sparks from welding
operations, discarded cigarette butts, electrical shorts, frayed wiring,
friction from power tools, and hot exhaust pipes.
Fuel, the second side of the fire triangle, may be liquid, such as gasoline or solvents; a solid, such as paper or wood scrap; or a gas, such as propane.
Air, the third side of the fire
triangle, contains oxygen that is necessary to sustain a fire. This is one side
of the triangle we can’t do much about. Air is usually present. Heat, fuel, and
air must be in the proper proportion for fire to occur.
How to Eliminate the Triangle?
Let’s talk about what we can do to
prevent the fire triangle from forming. Remember that if you remove any one of
the three ingredients, you will prevent or extinguish the fire. We can help prevent
fires by doing the following:
a neat and clean work area.
oily or paint-soaked rags in covered metal containers.
all “No Smoking” signs
all combustible materials away from furnaces or other sources of ignition.
any fire hazards that can’t be eliminated including electrical hazards.
cold weather heating devices so that tarps won’t blow into them.
When you know the angles, it’s easier to prevent and control fires. Remember the fire triangle: heat, air, and fuel. When you find these three ingredients present, take heed because a fire could be in the making.
Fire Safety 101
There’s plenty of air, fuel, and ignition sources – especially on construction sites, so we’ve all got to be on our toes to prevent fire. Here are some ways to keep the job from going up in smoke:
Keep the site clean. Store combustible materials away from ignition sources.
Report any possible fire hazards: open flames, sparks, and electrical equipment in need of repair.
Be sure combustibles are safe from ignition. Have a fire extinguisher handy for welding and cutting operations, or when open flame equipment is used.
Protect temporary electric wiring from possible damage. In case of a fire in or near live electrical equipment, use a dry chemical extinguisher, and not water.
Don’t smoke near flammables, in “No Smoking” areas, or while re-fueling equipment. Make sure cigarettes and matches are out. Smoke only in designated areas.
Use approved safety cans or the original manufacturer’s container to store flammable liquids. Keep these containers closed when not in use, and never store them near exits or passageways.
Clean up any spills as soon as they occur. Put saturated rags into closed metal containers.
Know where the closest fire-protection equipment is located, and how to use it. Check to see that fire-fighting equipment is in the clear, in proper condition, and ready for instant use.
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