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5 Toolbox Talks for Construction


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Need toolbox talks for construction? Check out the message below which reminds workers about the importance of clear communication at work.

#1 – A Toolbox for Construction About Good Communication

Did you know that by engaging in the simple act of clear communication, you can prevent injury to both yourself and your co-workers? It’s true! Throughout our day, we can communicate in many ways – verbally, with hand signals, via telephone or even with the use of signage. So how does one engage in good communication practices? Well the most important thing you can do is be concise. Refrain from the use of riddles or nicknames or even acronyms that everyone may not be aware of. Have the person you are speaking to paraphrase the conversation when you’re finishing up your discussion. This will minimize the chance for a miscommunication to occur. Don’t forget that communication is key to building a strong safety culture!

#2 – Safe Material Handling at Work – A Great Toolbox Talk for Construction

Did you know that material handling is one of the most common injuries at the workplace? They can lead to strains, sprains and also contusions. The main causes of these injuries usually stems from improper lifting techniques, failing to use equipment and engaging in unsafe work practices.

Here are some tips to prevent injuries while engaged in manual material handling tasks:

  • Inspect the load before lifting. Are there any jagged or sharp edges? Use gloves when necessary.
  • Size up the load. Is it manageable to handle yourself, or will it take two people to lift safely?
  • Inspect the path of travel. Pay particular attention for tripping hazards and make sure there is adequate room to maneuver safely.
  • Clean items before lifting. Keep your hands free of anything that will prevent a firm grasp such as oil, grease, wet or ragged gloves.
  • Physically lift it properly. Bend with your knees, keeping your back straight. Get a firm grasp on the load, and make sure to have a solid footing before beginning. Once you lift the load, keep it close to your body.
  • Beware of pinch points. Keep your fingers away from edges where pinches may occur. This is especially important when carrying materials through doors or when setting a load down.
  • Practice safe finger positioning. When handling things like pipe and lumber, keep your hands and fingers away from the edges. Crushing injuries can result without these good manual material-handling techniques.
  • Think ahead. Every lift should be planned beforehand, as this can prevent material handling injuries. Proper lifting uses your leg muscles more than your back, so get a good footing. You don’t want to fall while carrying a load or end up under a load, as this can compound any injury that occurs.

Material handling is made more difficult when water, snow, mud or grease has accumulated. Keep work areas and floors clean, dry and free of debris.

#3 – Safe Drum Handling

This is an excellent Toolbox Talk for construction. As you know, improper handling of drums and barrels can result in severe injuries. These include back sprains, crushed toes and fingers, or even exposure to hazardous chemicals if the contents are leaking. Thankfully, proper work practices can minimize your risk of injury, so please consider the following tips.

• Prior to handling the drum, read the label. Look for symbols, words or other marks which indicate if its contents are hazardous, corrosive, toxic or flammable. If the drum isn’t labeled, consider the contents hazardous until they are positively identified.

Check the drum to see if it is leaking. Before cleaning up any spill, make sure the substance has been identified. Make sure that you’ve been trained in the hazards of the chemical, and have the correct materials for cleaning it up. Find and review the appropriate MSDS.

• Replace missing elements. Before moving the drum or barrel, replace missing bungs and/or lids and secure as necessary.

• Estimate the weight. Depending upon the contents of the drum, you should estimate its weight. Determine whether you can move it yourself or if you need assistance. Remember, a 55-gallon drum can weigh 400-800 pounds!

• If you decide to move the drum yourself, use a forklift if one is available. You can also consider a hand truck or a drum cart that is designed specifically for drum handling.

• If the drum can be rolled, stand in front of it and place both hands on the far side of the chime. Pull the drum forward until it balances on the bottom chime. You can roll the drum on its chime, being careful to keep your hands from crossing over one another. You can also lower the drum to the ground for rolling by shifting your hands to the bottom side of the chime (not where they will be crushed). Slowly lower the drum to the floor. Keep your back straight and bend at your knees. Then roll the drum with both hands. Don’t use your feet or grasp the ends.

• Protect your hands, feet, back and face during while handling a drum. Safety shoes are required when moving heavy drums. Gloves, eye protection, aprons, and other personal protective equipment may be needed, depending upon the contents of the drum. Please check with your Supervisor if you are unsure.

• Most importantly, use material handling equipment whenever possible, and get help when you need it!

#4 – Hazardous Materials

This is a great reminder for in your next toolbox talk for construction projects. Every year, thousands of new chemical compounds are produced. A lot of these products improve our lives, but many are harmful to our health and to the environment. The issue occurs when these substances become so common to us that we can find ourselves in a dangerous situation while using them casually.

The definition of hazardous material is: “A substance (gas, liquid or solid) capable of creating harm to people, the environment, and property.”

Examples are:

  • solvents
  • paints
  • gasoline
  • adhesives
  • lubricants

They include materials like Drano and even nuclear fuel. Many people have suffered serious health problems from exposure to hazardous materials. Take the time required to thoroughly understand the potential harm in these materials, and how to use them and dispose of them properly.

Reminders about hazardous materials:
• Manufacturers must provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) with all hazardous products they sell.
• Materials in transport must be properly labeled, e.g., flammable, explosive, radioactive, etc.
• The MSDS must be available to any worker who works with or transports such products.
• The MSDS explains the physical and health effects of hazardous substances and how to avoid harm.
• The MSDS explains procedures for spills, leaks and disposal.
• Hazardous materials or by-products such as gases cannot always be seen or smelled.
• Internal or external harm from exposure does not always appear immediately.
• Every worker who works with or near large quantities of hazardous materials must know the steps to take and who to contact in the event of a spill.

When working with chemicals, please be safe. Yes, they can make your life and work easier, but they can be very harmful if not treated with care.

#5 – Safe use of Liquid Petroleum Gas

If you need a toolbox talk for construction projects, then you’ll love this one. Liquid Petroleum Gas or Propane is commonly used as a fuel for forklifts, man-lifts, certain types of heaters and lighting. When pressurized and/or chilled, the propane gas contained within a cylinder turns into a liquid state. A liquefied gas is much more “concentrated” than gas, which is simply compressed.

If a gas is liquefied, the pressure can increase rapidly when the gas is heated. Heating can come about from purely natural sources (i.e. the sun). Under normal circumstances, a relief valve on the cylinder will release the gas in a controlled manner to prevent the cylinder from exploding due to over-pressurization. However, if the cylinder and valve are not properly maintained and/or the pressure build-up is very rapid, such as when the cylinder may be directly exposed to fire, a cylinder failure and subsequent explosion can occur.

There are several ways to prevent this.

  • Always make sure the cylinder and relief valves are not damaged in any way. Damaged cylinders should never be used.
  • Store cylinders out of the direct sun and away from other heat sources.
  • A properly filled cylinder will not be full of liquid. Some space should remain to accommodate gas that may be driven off due to heating. In this case, the gas will be retained in the cylinder rather than being released into the atmosphere where it could create a hazard.

Other important safety measures to remember are as follows:

LPG cylinders must be in good condition. Often cylinders have been damaged by impact or have corroded over a period of time. Inspect your equipment often and keep it in good condition. Just because a LPG dealer will fill your cylinder, this is no guarantee it is safe. If in doubt ask for the equipment to be inspected by a qualified technician.

LPG is heavier than air. If it leaks it will tend to spread along the ground. You may even see a visible fog of gas. Be aware that ignitable mixtures can extend beyond the visible area. LPG cylinders should be stored in well-vented areas and away from sources of ignition, especially those at floor level. Never store LPG below ground level or in a confined space.

LPG leak detection is serious! If you smell or notice leaking LPG, immediately extinguish all flames and cigarettes in the area. Do not use electrical switches or even telephones. Evacuate the area and report an emergency to 911 or other emergency number. Phone from a safe distance away.

When LPG is released it is extremely cold. If you physically contact escaping gas, or anything around it, you could suffer frostbite. Whenever refilling or connecting an LPG cylinder, wear gloves to protect yourself from direct contact with the gas and cold surfaces.

• Burned LPG creates deadly carbon monoxide emissions. Never use LPG appliances indoors without approved ventilation. Be cautious of LPG powered lifts while working in areas like warehouses, freezers, container vans or any other environment with limited ventilation. LPG is a popular and safe form of energy-as long as it is used and stored with care.

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