Each job performed while constructing a Habitat house presents its own risks. In order to protect your employees and volunteers, you must identify what the potential hazards are, and then decide how to best guard against those risks. Personal Protective equipment, or PPE, is the most common choice for protecting workers.
The most common head injuries in residential construction occur when an item such as a tool is dropped from a height onto someone’s unprotected head. Injuries also occur due to falls from heights, changes in ceiling level and electric shock. The best way to protect against head injuries is to wear a hardhat.
Hardhats should be worn when working from heights, when others are working above you, and when there is the possibility of electric shock from above. To ensure their effectiveness hardhats should be properly maintained, for tips on hardhat maintenance go to http://www.cdc.gov/eLCOSH/docs/d0500/d000504/d000504.html. If you take care of your hardhat, it will take care of you.
Eye injuries can happen in many ways: impact from chips, sand, dirt and dust particles, heat, chemical burn and optical radiation from intense light. Eye injuries common during home construction are dust particles and saw dust getting in to the eyes. Safety glasses will help protect your eyes! Proper safety glasses must comply with ANSI Z87 specifications, and will have a Z87 marking on the lenses or frame. Your typical eyeglasses are not enough to protect your eyes. Certain activities will require a face shield with eye protection, such as a welder’s mask.
Continued exposure to loud noises can have lasting affects on your hearing. Earmuffs, foam earplugs and canal caps are all effective ways of limiting the damage to your ears. Pick one that fits comfortably and blocks out the damaging sounds.
Another piece of Personal Protective Equipment which might benefit your affiliate is a Personal Fall Arrest System. In residential construction, fall arrest systems are mainly worn by individuals working on roofs. Falls from roofs present serious potential injury to employees and volunteers, and as such, are a major concern to Habitat. If your affiliate doesn’t subcontract out the roofing work, we recommend that you look into purchasing a fall arrest system.
Protecting your workers should be your number one priority on the jobsite. It is important that you understand what PPE items are necessary and provide them for your workers. And keep a watchful eye to make sure your workers are using them when necessary.
And remember to always get a signed waiver from all volunteers prior to them working on the jobsite! If you have any questions please call the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program at (888) 553-9002.