Autumn Slip, Trip & Fall Prevention Tips

Oct. 1, 2021 by Enyinna Anthony, PMP, CCM

No doubt, October is the month most recognized for the days growing shorter, leaves changing spectacular colors and the fragrance of wood smoke and pumpkin spice filling the air, but unfortunately, once those autumn leaves waft downwards, they add a more dangerous dimension to this time a year… maybe that’s why it’s also called Fall!

Donald Duvall, MDTA Construction Safety Auditor for AMG warns that once leaves start falling,  especially combined with rain, roads and driveways get slippery both on the jobsite and the home front. “Mud can also be an issue,” he says, “This is the time we notice the crew cleaning mud from boots, ladders and other equipment to prevent possible slipping and falling.”

As a safety auditor, Don takes any potential for slipping and falling very seriously.  Falling can result in anything from a sprained wrist, broken leg or other injury. “Sometimes people will try and take a short-cut by going off the usual path on the construction site, but you have to be careful going down slopes that have become slippery from fall weather.” For this reason, he cautions against taking any short cuts.

Frozen surfaces are another hazard that appears as the temperatures drop. People are on the job early in the morning before the sun has had a chance to warm up the asphalt. He’s witnessed such falls on the site that caused injuries. “Anytime it gets below freezing, you have to be careful of the black ice,” he warns. “Sometimes it’s nearly invisible.”

“Now is the time to start preparing for the rest of winter,” Don advises, “such as identifying hazards, making sure rock salt is readily available and everyone is wearing the correct footwear.  It’s important to provide proper lighting, signage, good housekeeping protocols and slip-trip-fall training for the entire staff.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slips and falls are the second major cause of death in the US.  Slips, trips, and falls are also the second most common cause of injury at work and 20-30% of falls that occur in the workplace lead to moderate to severe injuries such as bruising, fractures or a concussion.

For more tips and information about fall prevention, visit Slips, Trips and falls: Protecting Your Employees from Preventable Injuries.

Taking Ladder Safety One Step at a Time

Oct. 1, 2021 by Enyinna Anthony, PMP, CCM

Cleaning leaves out of gutters, putting up Halloween decorations or stringing up Christmas lights are looming tasks for many homeowners in the months ahead, but falling from a ladder can cause serious injury or even death.  So, when it comes to ladder safety, it’s best to take advice from professionals in the construction industry before stepping on the first rung.

Donald Duvall, MDTA Construction Safety Auditor for AMG says its important to have the right kind of ladder for the job. For instance, when cleaning gutters, one would typically use an extension ladder.   “Make sure the ladder extends to a minimum of three feet above the gutter, he says. Tie and secure the ladder in such a way that it won’t be able to slide sideways if you are reaching and shift weight too much to one side. For this reason, it’s also advisable to have someone hold the ladder at the bottom to help keep it steady.

Ladders must also be kept clean and dry to prevent the user from slipping.  On the jobsite, ladders are inspected before use to ensure they are free from any mud, grease or cement.  Standing on the top cap of an A-frame/stepladder is forbidden on the jobsite as it’s too unstable – a good rule for use in the home as well.

Ladders should also be made from non-conductive materials.  This is usually fiberglass, but in some cases might be wood. “Homeowners often have aluminum extension ladders,” Don notes, “as they are less expensive and lighter to carry, but fiberglass ladders are made for a reason.” An aluminum ladder accidentally coming into contact with anything electrical can have devastating consequences.  Never handle ladders of any kind around powerlines.

Finally, always make sure you are adhering to the weight restrictions of your ladder.  Most household ladders are considered light duty and have a maximum of 200 lbs.

For more suggestions, OSHA offers an easy-to-follow Ladder Safety Quickcard you can download and print.

Walkway Collapse in Ellicott City

Aug. 8, 2019 by Enyinna Anthony, PMP, CCM

When I read the news about yesterday’s walkway collapse in Ellicott City, I couldn’t help but feel the mixed emotions of sorrow, shock, gratitude and fear.

I felt sorrow for the person who was injured. I felt shock that something like this could even happen. There was gratitude that not more people were hurt, and that no loss of life was suffered by the injured party, as I know all too well that this can happen. And finally, I felt fear, because with all the construction work, building, bridge and roadway repairs that go on every day, what are the chances that something like this could happen again with even more disastrous results?

As an engineer, the wonder of a city skyline never escapes me because in my field of expertise and education, I know just how much science, planning and labor go into constructing one bridge, more or less an entire metropolis of structures that, for better or for worse, we tend to take for granted every single day.

It’s for this reason that safety and quality control became one of the key focuses of my business. In a world of construction, when a million things can go wrong, we must make every effort to ensure that the things that go right are the protection and safety of not only our citizens, but the workers building these engineering feats.

There is not enough information reported for me to even begin to speculate as to how this might have happened, but my thoughts and prayers go out to the individual who was injured yesterday in this incident.

I take it as a reminder that we have moral duty to take proper due diligence in every phase of the construction life cycle and conduct each of the jobs we do with the utmost integrity.