Toolbox Talks Ergonomics

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

Woman holding her wrist pain from using computer. office syndrome
Toolbox Talks Ergonomics topics that we all need at the workplace — especially in the construction industry.

Why should 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.

Injuries 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!

Businessman backache at work
Toolbox Talks Ergonomics topics for use at work

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.

  1. Eliminate the need to carry. This might not be practical, but it must be the first method to consider.
  2. Rearrange the job to eliminate unneeded carrying. This might include relocation of storage, production, or shipping areas.
  3. 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.
  4. Ask for help. Appoint the job of carrying large or awkwardly shaped items to 2 or more individuals.
  5. 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?

Hand of business woman holding her painful wrist caused by work
Toolbox Talks Ergonomics topics that you’ll want to share during your next toolbox discussion.

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.

If 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 controlled.

Listen to what your body tells you and learn how to avoid CTD’s!

Motion Injuries and Ergonomics Toolbox Talks

Asian businessman working with neck pain, backache, headache
Here’s a Toolbox Talks Ergonomics topic that you’ll find interesting — share with your team!

Taking 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 activities.

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.

In 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:        

  1. 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
    • Under stress
  • 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

Remote control for operate to concrete pump or boom pump truck at construction site
Toolbox Talks Ergonomics topics — this is last but most definitely not least!

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 loading
  • Repetitive motion, on a long-term basis
  • Working with the fingers, hand or wrist held in awkward positions
  • Vibrating tools or equipment

Ergonomic Tips:

  • 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!

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Toolbox Talks Fire Extinguishers

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?

toolbox talks fire extinguishers
Need toolbox talks fire extinguishers? Here’s a few that you will find helpful.

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

Engineers are checking fire extinguishers
Here are some toolbox talks fire extinguishers topics!

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:

  • Keep calm.
  • Report the fire immediately to your supervisor or fire department, giving the location, your name and telephone extension, if applicable.
  • Always 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 emergency?

The ABC’s of Fire Extinguishers

Fire alert on the wall
In need of toolbox talks fire extinguishers topics? Here you go — a few below!

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.

Extinguisher 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 ABC extinguishers.

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

  1. Use the fire extinguisher whose class corresponds to the class of the fire.
  2. Never use a Class A extinguisher, which contains water or foam, on a liquid or electrical fire.
  3. Know where extinguishers are located and how to use them. Follow the directions printed on the label.
  4. Keep the area around the fire extinguisher clear for easy access.
  5. Don’t hide the extinguisher by hanging coats, rope, or other materials on it.
  6. Take care of the extinguishers just as you do your tools.
  7. Never remove tags from extinguishers. They indicate the last time the extinguisher was serviced and inspected.
  8. Report defective or suspect extinguishers to your Supervisor, so that they can be replaced or repaired.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Fire extinguisher in red cabinet

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:

  • Enough oxygen to sustain combustion
  • Enough heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature
  • Some sort of fuel or combustible material
  • The 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?

Hand pulling safety pin from red fire extinguisher

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.

CLASS ‘A’ 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.

CLASS ‘B’ 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.

CLASS ‘C’ FIRES – Electrical fires, usually involving some type of electrical equipment

  • 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 ignited.

CLASS ‘D’ 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

toolbox talks 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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Toolbox Talks Fire Safety

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

Fire extinguisher - toolbox talks fire safety
Need toolbox talks fire safety topics? Here are a few for you.

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

Sparks during working with steel in the factory
Here’s some toolbox talks fire safety topics for you.

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 welding.
  • 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

toolbox talks fire safety
Need toolbox talks fire safety topics? Here’s a reminder about your fire protection plan.

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:

  1. Procedure for reporting fires.
  2. 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)
  3. Emergency escape procedures and routes.
  4. Procedure for accounting for personnel
  5. 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

toolbox talks fire safety
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Temporary shacks or similar structures must be constructed of fire-resistant materials.
  5. Debris must not be allowed to accumulate adjacent to any electrical equipment, buildings or structures.
  6. Personnel must be trained on the types of fire extinguishers and their use.

Fire Safety Reminders

Fire alarm switch

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:

Report it to the Fire Department:

  • Is the fire department’s emergency phone number posted next to the telephone?

Check Your Fire Extinguishers

  • 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 welding areas?
  • Are ‘No Smoking’ areas posted so all workers know not to smoke in areas where flammable liquids or containers are stored?

Practice Good Housekeeping

  • 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?

Check Smoke Alarms

  • 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

Fire tool kit

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

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

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

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:

  1. Maintain a neat and clean work area.
  2. Put oily or paint-soaked rags in covered metal containers.
  3. Observe all “No Smoking” signs
  4. Keep all combustible materials away from furnaces or other sources of ignition.
  5. Report any fire hazards that can’t be eliminated including electrical hazards.
  6. Arrange 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

toolbox talks fire safety

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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Toolbox Talks Scaffolding

Need toolbox talks scaffolding topics? No problem! Here are a few that will make your work day a lot easier (and safer). Remember, you should edit our general messaging to ensure it’s specific to your own work conditions.

Toolbox Talks Scaffolding Inspections

Toolbox Talks Scaffolding

Scaffolding is a temporary, field-erected structure used for working aloft. Because it is temporary and field erected, it is subject to wear and abuse, improper assembly, and unauthorized changes. Construction standards require that a “competent person” inspect scaffolds for defects before every work shift. Yet, in all industries, every worker who works on or around scaffolding should be aware of safety requirements.

The following list includes things to watch for:

  • Scaffolding must be erected on firm footing capable of carrying the maximum intended load. Boxes, barrels, loose concrete blocks or brick must not be used to support the structure.
  • Consideration must be given to the weight the scaffold is to carry. It must be capable of supporting, without failure, four times the maximum intended load. The load includes not only the weight of the people on the scaffold but also any supplies and equipment being used.
  • Scaffolding is naturally unstable because it is usually a tall structure with a narrow base. To counteract this, the scaffold must be braced or tied off to a stable structure such as a ship’s hull or building wall.
  • The planking used must be “scaffold grade.” The wood must be clear, free of loose knots, splits, or other defects. To create a proper work surface, generally 2 planks need to be laid side by side to create a wide work platform
  • Toe boards should be installed along the outer scaffold edge, to prevent tools or materials from falling onto workers below.

Never make any changes to scaffolding yourself. Only designated “Competent Persons” should make modifications. Always check the rules and regulations for your place of operation to ensure compliance.

Scaffolding / Work Platforms

Toolbox Talks Scaffolding
Here are some toolbox talks scaffolding topics — see below.

Inadequate scaffolding is responsible for many construction incidents. Scaffolds should be designed, built and inspected by competent persons. To avoid the use of makeshift platforms, each job should be carefully planned to assure that scaffolding is used when required and that such scaffolding conforms to the applicable regulations.

  • Guardrails, midrails and toeboards must be installed on all open sides of scaffolds.
  • Scaffold planks must be cleated or secured.
  • All scaffolds must be fully planked and constructed to support the load they are designed to carry.
  • All scaffold members must be visually inspected before each use. Damaged scaffold members must be removed from service immediately.
  • Access ladders must be provided for each scaffold. Climbing off the end frames is prohibited unless their design incorporates an approved ladder.
  • Adequate mudsills or other rigid footing, capable of withstanding the maximum intended load must be provided.
  • Scaffolds must be tied off to the building or structure.
  • Scaffold should not be overloaded. Materials should be brought up as needed. Excess materials and scrap should be removed from the scaffold when work is completed.
  • Barrels, boxes, kegs, horses, ladders, loose tile blocks, loose piles of bricks, A-frames or other unstable objects must not be used as work platforms or to support scaffolds. Never use work platforms mounted on top of other work platforms.
  • Where persons are required to work or pass under a scaffold, a screen of wire mesh or equivalent protection is required between the toeboard and the guardrail.
  • Overhead protection is required if workers working on scaffolds are exposed to overhead hazards.
  • Unauthorized personnel must not alter scaffolds or work platforms.

Toolbox Talks Scaffolding Safe Work Practices

Construction site scaffolding
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Scaffolds are used every day in construction, providing a place to work from, and used in conjunction

with other scaffolds, they become support structures or platforms to store material. In addition, falls from scaffolds cause injuries ranging from severe sprains or strains to broken bones. Many of these injuries could have been prevented if every person using a scaffold followed some basic guidelines.

  • Follow all local codes, ordinances and regulations pertaining to scaffolding.
  • Be sure you inspect all equipment before use and daily thereafter. Check for cracks or bent parts, connectors, bracing, guardrails, access ladders, and especially footings. NEVER use any equipment that has been damaged. Be sure the scaffold is not overloaded.
  • NEVER ride a rolling scaffold and be sure to lock or block the wheels after moving it.
  • Keep platforms and the area around the scaffold free of debris and unnecessary material or other hazards that could cause you to trip or fall.
  • Be sure to plank all work areas and only use lumber that is graded as scaffold plank.
  • Never allow unsupported ends of planks to extend an unsafe distance beyond supports and be sure all planks are secured so they cannot be dislodged.
  • Fasten all braces securely. Do not mismatch side braces.
  • Provide overhead protection if there is a hazard above the work area.
  • Don’t use scaffolds near power lines.
  • Check access. If your scaffold is not equipped with a built-in ladder be sure to have a safe means to ascend and descend.

Play it safe. Don’t take chances with scaffolding. When in doubt, speak to your Supervisor.

Scaffolding Checklist

Silhouette of scaffolding on sunset sky Premium Photo
Toolbox talks scaffolding topics can be difficult to find online. Here’s one that you will find helpful.

Are your scaffolders properly certified?

You must make certain that anyone constructing, or directly supervising the workers constructing, any scaffold from which a person or materials could fall is competent to construct the scaffold. This also applies to any alterations to the scaffold or dismantling of the scaffold.

Is the scaffold strong enough for the loads?

Make sure the scaffold is strong enough. Bricklayers, stonemasons, concretors and demolition workers need heavy-duty scaffolds, whereas Carpenters and general trades may need at least medium-duty scaffolds. Check the supplier’s information for the type of scaffolding systems you are using and refer to the regulations for your place of work.

Is the scaffold stable?

Scaffolds can collapse if they are built on soft ground without timber soleplates to properly distribute the load, if they are too close to trenches or excavations, if they are not properly braced and tied to the supporting structure, or if they are badly out of level.

Does the scaffold protect the workers and other people?

Planks must be genuine scaffold planks in good condition, of uniform thickness (to prevent trip hazards) and secured against uplift. Platforms should be fully decked across their full width and free of gaps. Platforms may be required to have guardrails, midrails, and toeboards fixed to each open side and end. Where debris from the work can cause danger, it may be necessary to sheet the scaffold. If unsure, check with your Supervisor about when this is required.

Is there safe access to every scaffold platform?

Properly constructed temporary stairways or ladder access is needed to all working platforms. Climbing up and down the scaffold framework is very dangerous. Ladders must be securely fixed to prevent movement.

Are your scaffolders working safely?

While it is under construction, the scaffold should be isolated from other workers and the public. Stow tools in holders on your belt. Work from a full deck of planks whenever possible. Fix a guardrail for protection and leave it in place until that part of the scaffold is dismantled. Wear appropriate PPE. On large jobs, use a crane to lift scaffold pieces or use a winch or equivalent to reduce manual handling risks. Scaffold must be inspected and tagged ready for use before using.

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Toolbox Talks Fall Protection

Looking for toolbox talks fall protection topics? You’ve come to the right place! Here are 3 toolbox talks fall protection topics that will make your life a lot easier. Please feel free to share these messages with your crew. We would like to remind you to edit the contents so messaging is specific to the work taking place on your job site.

Toolbox Talk on Fall Protection

Industrial safety harness

It is important for you to understand the difference between a fall arrest system and fall restraint system. These are most commonly used in the construction industry, but may apply to many other situations where workers must work at heights.

FALL RESTRAINT: A fall restraint system consists of the equipment used to keep a worker from reaching a fall point, such as the edge of a roof or the edge of an elevated working surface. The most commonly utilized fall restraint system is a standard guardrail. A tie off system that “restrains” the worker from falling off an elevated working surface is another type of fall restraint.

FALL ARREST: A personal fall arrest system means a system used to arrest a worker in a fall from a working level. It consists of an anchor point, connectors, a body belt or body harness and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combinations of these. The entire system must be capable of withstanding the tremendous impact forces involved in stopping or arresting the fall. The forces increase with the fall distance due to acceleration (a person without protection will free fall 4 feet in 1/2 second and 16 feet in 1 second!).

Let’s review 5 key requirements for fall arrest systems:

  1. Body belts may not be used. A maximum arresting force of 1800 pounds is allowed when a body harness is utilized.
  2. The system must be rigged so that workers can neither free-fall more than 6 feet or contact a lower level. After the free-fall distance, the deceleration or shock-absorbing component of the system must bring a worker to a complete stop within 3.5 additional feet.
  3. The anchorage point must be capable of supporting at least 5000 pounds per worker. Most standard guardrail systems are not adequate anchorage points because they are not built to withstand the impact forces generated by a fall.
  4. The system’s D-ring attachment point for body harnesses must be in the center of the worker’s back near the shoulder level.
  5. The system components must be inspected for damage and deterioration prior to each use. All components subjected to the impact loading forces of a free-fall must be immediately removed from service.

Always consult the regulations applicable to your place of operation. If you have additional questions regarding fall arrest systems, please contact your Safety Manager or local Prevention Division.

Wear Fall Arrest Equipment

toolbox talks fall protection

Would you gamble with your life? A lot of people do just that when they fail to inspect their personal fall arrest equipment daily. They gamble that the equipment will save their life if they fall. Wearing fall arrest equipment without inspecting it provides a false sense of security.

This equipment is subject to tremendous loads during a fall, so unless each component is thoroughly inspected and properly used, it may not save your life. Always follow manufacturers’ recommendations when inspecting your equipment. Here are several things to look for.

Belts & Body Harnesses:

  • Thoroughly inspect all nylon webbing on belt/body harnesses for frayed edges, broken fibres, burn marks, deterioration or other visible signs of damage. Do the same if the belt or body harness is constructed of other materials. Stitching should be intact and not torn or loose.
  • The belt or harness should be somewhat “soft” and flexible and not stiff from dirt or contaminants.
  • Check to see that buckles and “D” rings are not distorted or damaged. Look closely at all components for stress cracks, deformity, gouging, corrosion and sharp edges. Inspect connection points where the buckle or “D” ring is attached to the belt or body harness. Ensure that no stitching is pulled and that the buckle or “D” ring is securely attached.
  • Inspect all rivets and grommets to be certain they are not deformed and are securely fastened to the belt or body harness and cannot be pulled loose.
  • If you find any of these conditions during the inspection, do not use the equipment.

Lanyards:

  • Completely check the entire length of the lanyard, looking for cuts, fraying, deterioration, knots, kinks, burns or visible signs of damage. Stitching should be intact and not torn or loose. Spliced ends must also be carefully examined for damage or deterioration. Check to see that the lanyard is somewhat “soft” and not stiff from dirt or contaminants.
  • If using a “shock absorber” type of lanyard, look for the “warning tag” which indicates that the lanyard has been exposed to a fall.
  • Snap hooks and eyes should not be distorted or bent. Inspect them for cracks, sharp edges, gouges or corrosion. Check to be sure the locking mechanism is operating properly and that there is no binding of the mechanism.
  • If using a self-retracting lanyard (SRL), you must inspect the body of the mechanism for flaws to assure that all nuts, screws and rivets are installed and tight. Also, check crimped ends or stitching for damage. Inspect the entire length of the SRL for any visible signs of defects.
  • Test the locking mechanism by pulling sharply on the cable end to be sure it locks immediately and firmly.

If you like to gamble at the card table—okay, but don’t do it with your life!

Fall Arrest and Emergency Procedures

toolbox talks fall protection

Serious physical injury or harness-induced death (suspension trauma) may occur following a fall if the worker remains suspended in the harness. The factors affecting the degree of risk of suspension trauma include:

  • The length of time suspended
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inability to move legs
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Respiratory disease
  • Shock
  • Dehydration
  • Injuries sustained during the fall
  • Blood loss

Unconscious/immobile workers suspended in their harness will not be able to move their legs and will not fall into a horizontal position. In this static upright position, venous pooling is likely to occur and cause orthostatic intolerance, especially if the suspended worker is left in place for some time. Research has shown that suspension in a fall arrest device can result in unconsciousness, followed by death, in less than 30 minutes.

The amount of time spent in this position affects the manner in which the worker should be rescued. Moving a worker quickly into a horizontal position may cause an abrupt increase in deoxygenated blood flow to the heart, causing cardiac arrest! Rescue procedures must consider this.

Discuss the rescue procedure established for your site; ensure the procedure includes the following contingency-based actions:

  1. Ensure pre-planning has taken place to address this kind of emergency, including establishing an emergency call procedure to ensure timely rescue and emergency first aid.
  2. If self-rescue is impossible or if rescue cannot be performed promptly, the worker must be trained to “pump” his legs frequently to activate the muscles and reduce the risk of venous pooling.
  3. If possible, footholds can be used to alleviate pressure, delay symptoms, and provide support for muscle pumping.
  4. Continuously monitor the suspended worker for signs and symptoms of orthostatic intolerance and trauma.
  5. On rescue, ensure the worker receives emergency first aid. If the worker is unconscious, keep the worker’s air passages open. Transport the worker with the upper body raised if possible.
  6. Monitor the worker after rescue and ensure the worker is evaluated by a health-care professional. Delayed effects are not unusual and are difficult to assess on the scene.

WORKER FALL ARREST TRAINING CHECKLIST

  • Correct use and care of fall arrest systems
  • Proper fit of PPE to ensure it performs as intended
  • Review Job Hazard Assessment (JHA)
  • Methods to reduce risk of falling; the importance of prevention
  • Site-specific emergency rescue procedure
  • Discussion of signs and symptoms of harness-induced trauma or orthostatic intolerance
  • Discussion of factors increasing a worker’s risk
  • Methods to diminish risk while suspended
  • Document training; workers to sign acknowledgement of training

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