Safety is important every day, but especially as the residential construction and renovation industry heads into its busiest time of year, which also happens to be during the hottest months.
When schedules get tight, it can be easy to cut corners, accidentally overlook important safety protocols or overwork in hot weather.
Having your company and crews follow best practice safety standards can help keep everyone safe and promote a positive environment that retains employees better.
“It’s essential for builders, contractors and siding installers to have safety as the foundation of their company culture,” said Matt Piper, Technical Manager for James Hardie, the leading manufacturer of fiber cement siding and trim products. “Without it, business owners may be putting their employees at risk and potentially face higher costs in the form of accidents and fines.”
To help keep safety top of mind during the busy summer season, here are five jobsite safety tips for siding installers, including ways to manage heat and how to help protect against some of OSHA’s top jobsite hazards.
1. It’s Cool to be Covered: Wear more clothing while working in summer sun.
Most people already know to frequently hydrate when working in heat. One overlooked heat tip is to wear more clothing — just so long as it’s the right clothing. This includes long sleeves, pants and hard hats with the goal of covering your skin without relying solely on sunblock, which usually needs to be frequently reapplied. Many clothing companies have apparel designed to protect against the sun with UV-rated materials while also helping to keep body temperatures cool.
2. Move Less to do More: An efficient jobsite setup helps crews travel shorter distances.
Carefully planning the placement of tools and workstations can help make siding installation more efficient and safer. A well-planned jobsite can help workers travel shorter distances between stations, which can speed up work and reduce exertion in summer heat. If you need guidance, James Hardie has local resources that can advise you on setting up a more efficient jobsite.
3. Even Small Heights can be Dangerous: Use protective measures for fall hazards 6-feet or more.
Falls are consistently among the biggest risks for construction workers, and the busier they are, the more susceptible they can be to accidents. Major fall risks in the siding industry are associated with elevated work levels such as decks, low roofs, and scaffolding. These risks can be substantially mitigated with safety systems such as guardrails and personal fall arrest systems. It’s important to have these systems put in place by a qualified person, continually monitored, and adjusted as needed.
4. Set Aside Damaged Equipment: Immediately label broken or damaged ladders “DO NOT USE.”
With the right precautions in place, OSHA says that deaths from ladder falls are almost entirely preventable. All ladders on the jobsite must be in good condition and free of defects. In addition to using the correct ladder for the job, make sure your crews are familiar with and follow guidelines for securing, placing, and extending ladders. If you use scaffolding instead of ladders, make sure it is only be placed, moved or modified under the supervision of a competent person. Once the sun has gone down and it has cooled off, take the opportunity to remove defective equipment from the job site.
5. Wear it, just Don’t Wear it Out: Regularly inspect personal protective equipment (PPE).
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to individual safety. Head, eyes, face, feet, and hands must be protected from jobsite hazards, including sun exposure. Wearing PPE is just the first step -- regularly inspecting the equipment and replacing it as necessary is equally important. For example, you should regularly inspect hard hats for dents, cracks or deterioration. Plus, any hard hat that has taken a heavy blow should be replaced whether or not damage is visible.
While these tips are a good start to jobsite safety, you can do more for your workers and company by implementing a comprehensive safety program. To help make this easy, James Hardie developed the Siding Installer Safety Program as part of the National Association of Home Builder’s Safety 365 Campaign. The program offers free, customizable and comprehensive safety plans developed specifically for siding installers.
“James Hardie is intensely focused on safety as the foundation of our company through our Zero Harm initiative,” Piper said. “We want to help builders, contractors and siding installers prioritize safety too. The Siding Contractor Safety Program is a great way to help ensure your workers get home safely every day.”