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Jackhammer Safety - Practice caution to minimize your risks - December 2016
Jackhammers are one of the most dangerous types of hand
tools because they can cause serious damage not only to your body from intense
vibrations, but also to your hearing. On average, a worker operating a
jackhammer is exposed to about 130 decibels of noise—that’s a little louder
than a jet plane taking off and slightly quieter than firearms or an air raid
In addition to damaging your hearing, jackhammer use also
poses large risks to the hands and wrists. In fact, using a jackhammer
frequently can quickly lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or Raynaud’s disease,
also known as vibration white finger. Follow these tips for safe jackhammer
- Read the instruction manual and receive the
proper training before operating the machinery.
- Inspect the equipment before use.
- Ensure that the safety guards are properly in
place and in good working order.
- Make sure bits are sharp.
- Inspect the compression hose lines.
- For three-wire system electric models, ensure
they are grounded properly to avoid a fire or shock.
- For electrical models, use an extension cord
large enough to accommodate the distance between the hammer and the receptacle
- For air models, fill the gas tank with the
- Wear long pants, long sleeves, eye protection
(goggles or safety glasses), ear protection (earplugs or ear muffs), non-slip
gloves, a protective mask, helmet and steel-toed boots with non-slip soles.
- Do not use a jackhammer in wet conditions.
- Remove the chuck key before using.
- Disconnect power or air supply prior to putting
in or removing tools.
- Lock tools before using.
- Grip the tool just tight enough to maintain
control, but allow the jackhammer to do the work.
Residential Construction Fall Protection Requirements - November 2016
Falls in residential construction are deadly and common.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of Labor
Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls
from residential roofs—the number one cause of workplace deaths in
construction. These injuries and deaths are not only costly to your company due
to claims and elevated insurance premiums, they are preventable. For this
reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has explicitly
stated that residential builders are not allowed to bypass fall protection
Who is Involved?
All employers engaged in residential construction work are
required to provide fall protection for workers working more than 6 feet above
ground. Residential construction includes the following elements:
- The end use of the structure being built is a
home or a dwelling.
- The structure is built using traditional wood
frame construction materials and methods. Limited use of structural steel does
not disqualify a structure from being considered residential construction.
Any employer involved in residential construction is
required to comply with OSHA regulations regarding fall protection systems.
This means employees working 6 feet or more above lower levels must use one of
the following safety systems:
- Guardrails and safety nets
- Personal fall arrest systems, an example of
which being a full body harness, a deceleration device, a lanyard and an anchor
Certain types of work specified under other OSHA provisions
warrant alternative fall protection measures.
What if Fall
Protection is Infeasible?
When the use of conventional fall protection methods is
infeasible or creates a greater hazard, employers must create a written,
site-specific fall protection plan that documents why these methods are
infeasible and why they would create a greater hazard.
At CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc., we have a
variety of materials for you to ensure compliance and promote a safe workplace,
which are essential components of any construction risk management program.
Erionite—An Emerging Hazard - October 2016
Erionite is a naturally occurring mineral that belongs to a
group of silicate minerals called zeolites. Like naturally occurring asbestos,
deposits are present in many Western states and can occur in a fibrous form.
Disturbance of this material can generate airborne fibers with physical
properties and health effects similar to asbestos.
Until recently, erionite was not generally considered to be
a potential hazard in North America, in part because relatively little risk for
exposure was seen. However, evidence has slowly accumulated that links exposure
to erionite with serious adverse health effects in North America, and suggests
that some workers may have a greater potential for exposure than previously
Risk and Regulation
There are no regulatory or consensus standards or
occupational exposure limits (OEL) for airborne erionite fibers. Development of
a quantitative OEL depends on the development of a standardized, validated
exposure assessment method and a quantitative evaluation of the risks
associated with given exposures. Still, The National Toxicology Program has
designated erionite to be a known human carcinogen.
Little is known about exposures currently experienced by US
workers. However, erionite-related disease has most often been reported in road
construction and maintenance workers with potential occupational exposures to
erionite-containing gravel used in road surfacing. Although it is reasonable to
be concerned, erionite-related clinical disease has not yet been reported in
other US workers engaged in activities that might crush erionite-containing
rock or stir up dust in soils/gravel that contain erionite.
Erionite fibers only pose a hazard if they are disturbed and
become airborne, and control recommendations should focus on reducing the
potential for exposure to airborne erionite fibers. Activity-based breathing
zone air sampling has confirmed that when gravels containing erionite are
disturbed, erionite fibers can become airborne. The intensity of these exposures
may vary due to a number of factors, including the weather conditions (e.g.,
damp vs. dry, windy vs. calm), the intensity with which erionite-containing
materials are disturbed and the concentration of erionite in the gravels being
disturbed. However, bulk gravel erionite concentrations alone are not a
reliable predictor of air concentrations, as disturbance of gravels containing
erionite in "trace" amounts (less than 0.2%) can sometimes result in
relatively high airborne fiber concentrations.
This data supports the need to implement precautions to
protect workers by limiting the generation and inhalation of dust known or
thought to be contaminated with erionite. A reasonable approach based on
information would be to take precautions such as those
described in existing guidance for working with asbestos, 29 CFR 1910.1001.
Existing recommendations for working in areas with naturally occurring asbestos
may be particularly relevant to reducing outdoor occupational erionite exposures.
Risk reduction recommendations to limit erionite exposures
of workers who engage in activities that disturb erionite-containing
gravel/soil or crush rocks that contain erionite can include the following:
- Train workers about the potential hazards of
erionite and control methods for reducing the potential for exposure
- Know where erionite-containing material is
present and will be encountered prior to beginning any work
- Avoid the use of erionite containing aggregate
- Use wet methods to reduce dust generation for
road and other work such as in quarries where erionite is present (e.g., when
drilling rock, apply water through the drill stem to reduce airborne dust, or
use a drill with a dust collection system)
- Limit the number of workers who will be engaged
in work with erionite
- Establish decontamination protocols including a
change of clothing, showering before leaving the worksite and appropriate
cleaning/disposal of personal protective equipment
- Ensure that work clothing is not washed at home
to prevent erionite fibers from being brought home on work clothes and boots
- Prohibit dry sweeping, the use of leaf blowers,
or the use of compressed air for cleaning
- Protect employees with personal protective equipment,
including respiratory protection. An occupational safety and health
professional should be consulted for specific guidance about the most
appropriate personal protective equipment that should be used for the work
- Prohibit eating, drinking, or smoking in dusty
work areas where erionite fibers may be airborne. Workers should move away from
the work area for breaks and wash their hands and face before eating, drinking,
- Establish protocols for vehicle use on erionite
containing roads (e.g., drive slowly, close vents and roll windows up)
- Wet wash equipment and vehicle exteriors, and
wet clean or use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter vacuum vehicle
- Follow Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
procedures for proper dispose of waste and debris that contains erionite.
- Limit bystander exposure by preventing visitors
and coworkers from standing in work areas where erionite fibers may become
Although much remains to be learned about erionite in the
US, airborne occupational erionite fiber exposures should be considered at
least as hazardous as asbestos fiber exposures and similar preventive measures
should be used. Contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. to keep your
workers safe from erionite exposure and other risks on the work site
Welding and Cutting at the Work Site - September 2016
Welding and cutting tasks are
dangerous, especially when working on a construction site. As your surroundings
are constantly changing, it is important to keep safety top of mind.
To avoid injuries on the job,
consider these safety recommendations:
- Always check for fire hazards before you start
welding. Wood, paper and other flammable materials should be removed from the
area. Flammable liquids should be removed as well. Never weld or cut in areas
with a lot of trees or dry grasses.
- Clean away any debris on the floor or ground
before welding over it. Then cover the ground or floor with metal or some other
material that will not burn. It may also be a good idea to wet the floor or
ground, though this can cause an added shock hazard. Guard against these
hazards as necessary.
- Seal cracks so that sparks or slag cannot fall
through them, and never allow these hot materials to fall into machine pits.
- If you must weld near combustible materials, a fire
extinguisher, pail of water, fire hose or a pail of sand should be at hand. It
may be necessary to have a worker stand by with a fire extinguisher to put out
sparks as well.
- If you are welding or cutting a tank or drum
containing flammable liquids or gas, do not start your operation until an
approved test shows that there is no dangerous vapor present. Do not rely on
another employee’s word that the tank or drum was tested previously; insist on
a new test before you start your work.
- If you’re working in a confined space at the
worksite, make sure your work area is properly ventilated. Many welding and
cutting operations produce fumes that are harmful in heavy concentrations, and
good ventilation is one of the best methods of protecting yourself against this
hazard. Utilize special ventilating equipment, if necessary.
- Wear face and eye protection such as goggles and
a helmet to protect against hazards. Workers dealing with metal, chipping and
cleaning should always have their helmets lowered to prevent throw particles of
metal from coming into the eyes. Eye protection, such as goggles, are worn to
protect against sparks, slag and molten metal, and flash burns caused by
radiation from the welding equipment.
Make safety a top priority as you weld
and cut. Taking these precautions seriously will lower your risk of
occupational injuries, which will make your job much more safe and enjoyable.
Safety Tips for Dealing with Lead - August 2016
Lead is a toxic substance that builds up in the body, posing
serious health risks to those exposed to it. When you work with lead, it
accumulates on your clothing and skin in the form of dust. It can be inhaled or
ingested, and can damage the lungs, kidneys, nervous system, intestines and
reproductive system. There is no cure for lead poisoning.
Lead can be found in the paint and pipes of buildings built
before 1978. During activities such as demolition, window replacement or
opening up walls, dangerous amounts of built-up lead dust can be released,
putting you at risk of exposure.
In order to do work on houses that contain lead-based paint,
our firm has been certified. This means we are expected to uphold certain
standards to protect you and the occupants of the building. Study the following
work practices that minimize the risk of lead poisoning.
Contain your work area to keep occupants out and to be sure
that other areas of the building are not contaminated with lead dust.
- Create a sealed air lock at the entrance to the
area in which you are working, and at the vents and heating ducts.
- Remove everything, including furniture, from the
work area. If an item is too large to move, cover it with heavy plastic
sheeting secured with tape.
- Cover floors with heavy plastic sheeting.
- Cover doors with two layers of protective
sheeting: one with a vertical slit, and one overlapping layer hung from the top
of the doorframe.
Without the right protective equipment, you may ingest or
inhale lead or risk bringing it home to your family. Always wear the following
- Safety goggles
- Disposable protective coveralls
- Disposable shoe covers
- Painter’s hat
- Properly fitting HEPA respirator
Thoroughly wash your hands and face whenever you stop to eat,
drink, smoke or use tobacco. Carefully remove all clothing and launder it
separately before returning home.
- Use wet sanders or misters to keep down dust
from sanding and drilling.
- Use HEPA vacuum attachments when you are able.
- When a heat gun is necessary, use a low
- Pry and pull apart components instead of
pounding and hammering.
- Never use open-flame burning or torching of
lead-based paint, and never use high-speed sanders or grinders without HEPA
Clean the entire area using the following methods each day,
throughout the day.
- Wet sweep and wet mop your work area each day,
changing the mop water frequently. Strain out debris from the mop water and
dispose of them.
the walls, tops of doors and windows and the plastic barrier to the work area
daily. Use a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
- Dispose of your personal protective equipment or
place it in a separate laundry container or plastic bag.
to keep the work area completely separate from the rest of the building.
Tips for Teens in Construction - July 2016
The construction industry
ranks third in the number of work-related youth fatalities, but you can help
lessen or even eliminate this statistic by paying attention to all safety
- If you are younger than15, you cannot work on construction sites
- Make sure you have clear instructions on each and every task. If
you do not understand, ask someone before beginning.
- Never perform a task you have not previously been trained to do.
- Trust your instincts about dangerous situations.
- Never work alone.
- Make sure your personal protective equipment (PPE) is properly
- Always work under proper supervision.
- Stay sober and drug-free.
- Try to familiarize yourself with the federal and state youth
employment laws; a good resource is the Department of Labor (www.dol.gov)
Certain jobs are declared hazardous by the Fair Labor Standards
Act (FLSA) and are therefore prohibited for youth under age 18. Specifically relevant
for construction workers are:
- Driving a motor vehicle
- Operating power-driven woodworking machines (including drills
and nail guns)
- Operating forklifts, cranes, hoists or elevators
- Operating power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine
- Wrecking, demolition and shipbreaking operations
- Roofing operations
- Excavation operations
Know the Hazards
There are six main hazards you need to be aware of in the
- Machines and tools – Moving machine parts
have the potential to cause severe injuries. Any machine part, function or
process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. Teens under age 18 should
not be using this equipment, but it is important to be aware of the dangers
- Confined spaces – There are many instances
in which workers must squeeze in and out of narrow openings and perform tasks
while cramped or contorted. Suffocation is a main concern when doing these
- Electrocution – Overhead power lines
are a main concern when working in construction. They carry tens of thousands
of volts of electricity. Certain equipment (such as aluminum paint rollers or
metal ladders) conducts electricity and can be fatal.
- Falls – Falling is the most
common cause of death for construction workers. Fall protection is vital when
working at heights above six feet.
- “Struck-by” – The second most common cause of death is being struck by an
object or vehicle. It is important to pay close attention to alarms and horns
when on the job.
- “Caught-between” – Be
sure to stay alert when working around any large objects that might move. Being
crushed is a scary but very real hazard on a construction site.
Before beginning any job, make sure that you understand the
proper safety procedures and policies on the job site. Your supervisor can answer
any questions you may have. Safety should always be your top concern.
Top Four Construction Hazards - June 2016
knows the risks?
You’re good at your job and you love what you do. However,
every time you come to work, you risk suffering an injury. The construction
site is one of the most hazardous workplaces, and many of the injuries that
occur there are caused by these top four hazards: falls, struck-by,
caught-in/between and electrocutions.
When you have sufficient knowledge, preventing accidents caused
by these hazards is easier than you might think. Here are some basic safety
tips to keep you injury-free.
- Wear and use fall arrest
- Install and maintain
- Cover and secure all floor
openings and label floor opening covers.
- Use ladders and scaffolds
- Never position yourself
between moving and fixed objects.
- Wear high-visibility
clothes near equipment and vehicles so that others can see you clearly.
- Never enter an unprotected trench or excavation
that is five feet or deeper without an adequate protective system in place. (Note:
some trenches that are less than five feet may need a similar system as well.)
- Make sure that a trench or excavation is
protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or a trench shield system.
- Locate and identify utilities before starting
work for the day.
- Look for overhead power lines when operating any
- Maintain a safe distance away from power lines
and learn your area’s distance requirements.
- Do not operate portable electric tools unless
they are grounded or double-insulated.
- Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for
- Be alert to electrical hazards
when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.
Reducing Falls While Installing Tile Roofs - May 2016
When workers install tile roofs, they are at risk of
falling. Using personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) is the most common way to
control falls during residential construction. But these systems are not the
only way to protect a worker—there are other options.
Installing Tile Roofs
Roofers installing tiles risk permanent injury or death from
falls. Even experienced roofers are exposed to unpredictable fall hazards
caused by uneven sheathing, sudden gusts of wind, loose roofing materials and
surfaces that become slick when wet. Taking appropriate fall protection
measures can reduce risks and save lives.
Employers must provide a training program for each worker
who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program must enable each worker to
recognize the hazards of falling, and must train each worker in the procedures
to follow to minimize these hazards. For fall protection training requirements,
refer to 29 CFR 1926.503. In all cases, employers must evaluate the hazards and
take measures to reduce the risk of falls.
Risks While Installing Tiles
Before beginning the job, focus on identifying fall
protection needs. Survey the roof to determine whether there are pre-installed
anchorages available that can be used. If not, begin planning immediately to
identify the systems needed to protect workers from falls and have them
available before the workers report to the job.
The contractor that is building and sheathing the roof
structure will need fall protection equipment for workers performing these
jobs. At a pre-construction meeting, or at the first meeting on the worksite,
ask the building contractor to leave roof anchors or other fall protection
equipment in place after sheathing is completed.
Using the Right
Roofers must use fall protection equipment that meets OSHA
requirements whenever they work 6 feet or more above a lower level. States with
OSHA-approved state plans may have additional requirements beyond OSHA
requirements. Depending on the tasks involved, where the work is taking place
and other circumstances specific to tile roofing, contractors may be able to
protect their workers using the following equipment:
- Aerial lifts
Safeguarding against hazards is as important to preventing
fatal falls as having good fall protection equipment. When work begins on a
roof, employers must prepare the site by protecting workers from the following
hazards that could cause them to fall.
- Wet or
windy weather: Roofing should only be performed when weather permits. Wind
and rain put workers at a greater risk for falling. In damp or windy weather,
put work on hold until conditions improve.
and openings: Every year, workers die from falling through openings and
weak surfaces on roofs. Employers must use covers, PFAS or guardrails to
protect employees working around skylights and roof openings.
the roof: Employers must provide safe roof access and make sure that
workers know how to get up and down from a roof in a way that minimizes the
risk of falling. Extension ladders must extend at least 3 feet above the roof
level to ensure safe access to the roof. For other requirements on the safe use
of ladders, refer to 29 CFR 1926 Subpart X—Stairways and Ladders.
materials: Employers must put all working materials in safe spots. Loose
tiles and hand-held equipment create tripping hazards. Workers can fall after
tripping or slipping on something they did not see. While walking on the roof
and carrying materials, the worker should keep the materials on the down-sloped
edge to prevent the materials from falling into him- or herself if the
materials are dropped.
edgework: When installing the first rows of tile near the roof edge,
workers have several fall protection options. In addition to a PFAS, scaffolds
and aerial lifts can provide safe access to the edge:
o Scaffolds: When properly constructed and used,
external scaffolds can provide suitable protection for roof repairs along the
edge of the roof. Pump-jack scaffolds offer a secure platform from which to
work and can be raised and lowered for specific tasks, such as working from
underneath the eaves. Guardrails along the scaffold will provide fall
protection. For other requirements for scaffolds, refer to 29 CFR 1926 Subpart
Aerial lifts: A portable boom lift can allow
roofers easy access to the leading edge of the roof. The adjustable angle is
useful for working on roofs of all grades. It offers an easy place for workers
to tie off their lifelines and to work from within the basket. Care must be
taken when loading material. Do not let workers overload the lift. For other
requirements for lifts, refer to 29 CFR 1926.453—Aerial Lifts.
There are many methods available to protect workers from
falls, but the method used should be determined by the unique characteristics
of each job site.
A PFAS is a tool available to roofers during installation
jobs, and is the system of choice for many roofers. However, a breakdown in any
component of a PFAS could be disastrous for a worker.
The system includes three major components:
- An anchorage to which the other components of
the PFAS are rigged
- A full body harness worn by the worker
- A connector, such as a lanyard or lifeline,
linking the harness to the anchorage. A rip-stitch lanyard, or deceleration
device, is typically a part of the system.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on selecting,
installing and using PFAS components correctly. Some PFASs include special
elevated anchor assemblies that permit the system to protect workers even when
they stand near the anchor locations. Certain anchorage assemblies rotate or
offer extension arms to improve mobility and prevent lifelines from contacting
the roof surface. This is particularly useful during roof demolition when a
line could catch on a nail or debris.
For more information on the requirements for a PFAS, refer
to 29 CFR 1926.502(d).
Remember that workers must use full-body harnesses in fall
arrest systems. Body belts can cause serious injury during a fall, and OSHA
prohibits their use as part of fall arrest systems.
When working in an area where a scaffold or aerial lift is
not practical, workers can use a PFAS with a secure anchor. OSHA requires that
anchors for a PFAS be able to hold at least 5,000 pounds of weight per person,
or maintain a safety factor of at least two (twice the impact load) under the
supervision of a qualified person [29 CFR 1926.502(d)(15)]. Anchors must not be
attached to sheathing alone, since it may not be strong enough to hold the
sudden weight of a falling worker. Anchors should be fixed to a strong
structural feature (like a sheathed truss). Always follow the manufacturer’s
instructions or consult a qualified person when installing anchors. When
choosing an anchor to use for fall protection, employers have a number of
options, including the following:
- Peak anchor: At the top of the roof, peak
anchors are typically solid, nonmoving pieces secured by the anchor to the
- Permanent D-rings: Inexpensive D-ring anchors
are attached to the truss frame; they are often removed after the job is done,
although they can be left permanently on the roof.
When installing an anchor above the area being built, choose
an anchor that is appropriate for the tile type and anchor location. Depending
on the roof design, the best location might be at the peak of the roof,
directly over a truss.
Otherwise, where practical, consider leaving anchors in
place. It will make the current job simpler and reduce the burden for roofers
in the future. Roofing is not always the last step in the construction process.
Skylight windows and solar panels might be installed later during construction.
Workers installing those units will also need fall protection anchors.
Fall Protection Plans
When working at heights of 6 feet or greater, if the
employer does not use ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts or fall restraint
systems and can demonstrate that it is not feasible or would create a greater
hazard to use conventional fall protection equipment (guardrails, safety nets
or PFAS), the employer must develop a written site-specific fall protection
plan in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.502(k). The plan must be prepared by a
qualified person. This person could be the owner, the supervisor or any other
worker who has extensive knowledge, training and experience with fall
protection and is able to solve problems relating to fall protection.
The site-specific fall protection plan must document, for
each location, why the use of conventional fall protection equipment is not
feasible or will create a greater hazard. The plan must also describe the
alternative methods that the employer will use so that workers are protected
from falls. Workers and their supervisors must be trained on the proper use of
those other fall protection methods.
Conventional fall protection equipment can reduce or
eliminate the chances of a fatal fall. Otherwise, a written site-specific fall
protection plan ensures that protection continues, even when conventional fall
protection methods are determined to be unfeasible.
Contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. today to
learn more about protecting your construction workers from falls.
Avoid Electrical Shock - April 2016
As you go about your work tasks that involve portable
electric tools, you may not give much thought about the hazards electricity can
pose. That is why it is so important to take the proper safety precautions at
Causes of Shocks
According to the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA), electricity travels in closed circuits, normally through
a conductor. However, sometimes a person’s body – an efficient conductor of
electricity – mistakenly becomes part of the electric circuit. Shocks occur
when a person’s body completes the current path with:
• Both wires of an electric circuit;
• One wire of an energized circuit and the ground;
• A metal part that accidentally becomes energized (such as
a break in its insulation); or
• Another “conductor” that is carrying a current.
When a person receives a shock, electricity flows between
parts of the body or through the body to the ground.
Inspect Your Tools
Accidental grounding is one of the most common preventable
incidents occurring when working with electricity. One way to avoid this is by
always examining your tools for these conditions:
• Defective or broken insulation
• Improper or poorly made connections to terminals
• Broken or otherwise defective plugs
• Loose or broken switches
• Sparking brushes
If any of these conditions exist, have the tool repaired
before using it, report it to your supervisor and above all, do not use it!
• Do not attempt to repair or adjust portable electric tools
while they are plugged in.
• Do not use portable electric tools in the presence of
flammable vapors or gases, unless they are designed for such use.
• Always use the required Personal Protective Equipment
(PPE) for the job, even if it may seem unnecessary.
• Maintain tools regularly.
• When using a tool to handle energized conductors, check to
make sure it is designed to withstand the voltage and stresses to which it has
• Ensure your portable tool is equipped with a three-prong
plug, the best way to guard against shock.
If you or a co-worker does receive a shock, it is important
to seek immediate medical attention. Even if the victim does not exhibit signs
of injury or stress, internal injuries may have resulted from the shock. Low
voltage shocks can actually be fatal.
Knowing how to work safely with portable electric tools can
save your life. Stay alert on the job, always check equipment prior to use and
do not take any unnecessary chances.
Your Multicultural Workforce - March 2016
Diverse employee populations are becoming increasingly
commonplace in today’s workforce. Though such diversity is positive in many
ways, it can also create problems. Differences in culture and language may
create tension among your employees or communication difficulties on the job
site. Minorities may feel unwelcome or misunderstood and may perceive a
strained relationship with site foremen or the company. It is essential that
you address these issues proactively to ensure all your employees have a positive
Learn About Your
Make the worksite a welcoming environment for all employees
by keeping an open mind, learning about your employees and avoiding
• Understand that diversity exists. When gathering information
about the ethnic and cultural makeup of their workforce, many employers are
surprised to learn the number of identifiable culture groups and subgroups
within their company. Each of these groups may gather and process information
differently, and they may have different needs and expectations from their
• Learn about different employee groups. Research the
various cultures and ethnicities represented in your company to gain a better
understanding of each group. Also, keep in mind that any females you employ
represent a minority in your typically male-dominated profession. Though
research is a start, the best source for information is your employees
themselves – ask them about their values, preferred communication methods and
how your workplace could better fit their needs.
• Don’t generalize. While it is true that certain
characteristics or preferences can be common among a gender, ethnic or racial
group, you should never assume that all employees of one group feel the same.
It is important to learn about broad cultural differences, but always think of
employees as individuals with unique feelings and needs.
Employers often make mistakes when communicating with
bilingual employees without even realizing it. You may assume that since your
workers have an English vocabulary sufficient for them to function on a daily
basis that communicating everything in English is adequate. However, for many
workers, English is a second language, and they still feel more comfortable
communicating in their native tongue. This is especially true when it comes to
safety rules, company policies, HR forms and other essential and potentially
One way to solve this problem is to use bilingual forms of
communication (whether written or spoken) when providing health and safety
information. Also, be sure to post federal and state compliance posters in the
language in which your employees are fluent – in some states, this is required,
so check your local regulations.
Communication may prove to be a problem on your job site. If
you have bilingual employees, make sure you have someone who can fluently
translate back and forth if needed, and encourage all workers to be patient if
problems arise with the language barrier.
A multicultural workforce can cause tensions among
employees. This may be due to underlying prejudices, discomfort or
unfamiliarity with other ethnic groups or displeasure with changing established
policies and procedures. In order for everyone to have a comfortable and
pleasant working environment, you need to address these issues.
Create company-wide nondiscriminatory policies, and
distribute them to all employees. Emphasize that the company is committed to a
diverse, inclusive workforce and prejudiced or discriminatory behavior will not
be tolerated. You may also want to implement mentoring or shadowing programs to
help new employees feel welcome and help all employees feel comfortable with
To open employees’ minds to other cultures and raise their
self-awareness, consider providing diversity training or learning seminars for
your staff. Open or semi-directed dialogues among employees can be useful for
breaking down barriers, fostering respect and understanding, and helping
employees feel comfortable despite their differences. Planning company social
events, including picnics, outings, parties and clubs, can also be beneficial
in bringing employees together and providing laid-back opportunities to get to
know each other.
Train Your Site
Site foremen should be trained on communicating effectively
with workers of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Not only do foremen play an important role in
verbally communicating information, but their non-verbal actions can also have
a big impact.
Foremen should be careful to always display the same
attitude toward all workers regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Any
difference in mood or attitude, whether real or perceived, can make a minority
group feel isolated or unimportant and expose the company to unnecessary risks.
It is crucial that foremen avoid becoming irritated or impatient when a
minority employee needs extra help or is confused by something. This type of
response can cause non-English speaking employees to avoid asking safety questions
out of fear of further agitating an impatient or already aggravated supervisor.
Plus, the company becomes vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit if the
employees feel they are being treated differently because of their minority
Recommend the following tips to site leaders:
1. Treat all employees equally, despite any language
2. Don’t make patronizing comments about a specific group of
employees, even if you think they are complimentary. Not only will you risk
insulting your employees, but you also open the door to discrimination
3. Don't overcompensate any specific group of employees with
the belief that the extra money will alleviate communication barriers. This
type of activity will ultimately alienate other members of the workforce, and
it is a very discriminatory practice.
4. Be patient with workers who may have a hard time
understanding the English language or who struggle to adapt to certain
communication methods or working styles.
If your company has a diverse workforce, you might want to
include a multicultural aspect in your hiring considerations. Hiring site
foremen with multicultural management expertise or workers that have previous
exposure to multicultural work settings can help you bridge any communication
or personal gaps among your workers.
A Simple Approach
While there are many resources available that can help
employers develop, promote and value a multiethnic or multicultural workforce,
it really all comes down to four simple actions. By encouraging the following,
you will be well on your way to creating a more welcoming environment for all
of your employees:
1. Work to understand all your employees and their unique
needs so the workplace is comfortable and accessible for everyone.
2. Promote open and honest communication within the company
between employers and employees.
3. Encourage acceptance and respect among all employees.
4. Establish a commitment from top management to promote and
support diversity and equal opportunity as a core value of the organization.
Builder’s Risk Coverage: Understanding the Policy Period - February 2016
Construction projects, regardless of their size, can present
complex insurance issues. Are you confused about your exposures and policy
options? If so, it’s no surprise—there are no standard builder’s risk policy
forms covering these types of risks. To help you limit your exposure, here are
some helpful builder’s risk policy basics.
Builder’s Risk coverage is a type of property insurance
specifically designed to cover property during the course of construction,
including renovation and repair. Why do you need it? There are additional risks
and responsibilities inherent in this type of work that a typical property
policy is not designed to cover. For example, if someone steals contractors’
equipment from the job site or if construction materials are damaged, you could
be liable for the loss if you do not have builder’s risk coverage.
Typically the coverage is purchased by either the property
owner or contractor. Regardless who purchases the coverage, all parties that
have property involved in the project should be named in the policy. This may
include the owner, contractor, subcontractors, the financial institution
funding the project, and, in some cases, the architects and engineers. Once the
project is completed and/or accepted by the owner, your regular property policy
Since builder’s risk coverage only deals with the property,
it does not include coverage for worksite injuries or design/construction defects.
For any mishaps that occur on the job, you should rely on liability and
workers’ compensation insurance policies for coverage.
When purchasing builder’s risk coverage, one of the issues
often overlooked is the policy period—it may not be clear when the coverage
begins and ends. As a result, keep the following in mind:
Commencement of Coverage: Builder’s Risk policies provide
coverage for property in the course of construction, renovation or repair. But
at what point does construction renovation or repair begin?
contracts require that insurance be provided for the duration of the contract
period. This means that the policy inception date would be the date the
contracts are signed.
lender may also specify the inception date.
be sure to review insurance policy provisions to determine whether there are restrictions
on when coverage begins. Policies may contain clauses that state coverage
begins when construction commences or that the insurance company will pay for losses
at the time you become legally responsible for the covered property, either on
or after the effective date. Prior to any site preparation, demolition, or
delivery of materials or equipment, review the policy to ensure there are no
restrictions on coverage inception.
Coverage Expiration: Determining when coverage terminates
can be equally problematic. Builder’s Risk policies can contain provisions that
terminate coverage prior to policy expiration. The provisions typically state
that coverage will end at the earliest of the following:
policy expires or is cancelled
property is accepted by the purchaser
interest in the property ceases
abandon the construction with no intention of completing it
specified otherwise in writing:
o 90 days
after construction is complete
o 60 days
after construction is complete and building described in the declaration is
occupied in whole or in part, or put to its intended use
Problems and Solutions
There are some limitations to builder’s risk coverage, but
none that don’t have a simple solution:
- There is
no coverage under the policy if the building is occupied to any extent, for
over 60 days, without written consent of the insurance company.
policy only provides coverage for up to 90 days after the completion of
construction. In the case where the building is completed only two days before
policy expiration, there are only two days of coverage available. There are 90
days of coverage available after completion only if there are at least 90 days
remaining in the policy period.
issues can arise at the end of a project, after construction is complete and
the structure is occupied, but a "punch list" and final completion
Here are strategies to understand the extent of your
the insurance coverage obligations of the project documents and contracts to
ensure the policy period, at a minimum, fulfills the requirements.
the terms and conditions of the policy and what triggers the coverage to
commence and cease.
coverage ends make sure permanent coverage is in place so no gaps in coverage
Careful planning is the foundation for a smooth construction
project, which includes the right exposure coverages. Many businesses choose to
transfer or accept risk through contracts, purchase orders and lease
agreements. However, not all contracts or endorsements are created equal. An
agent who understands your business can knowledgeably help you with builder’s
risk policy language to meet your individual needs. Call us today at (619)
297-3160 to learn more about contractual risk transfer and its place in your
overall risk management program.
What You Need to Know about the HAZWOPER Standard - January 2016
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) requirements and
regulations not only protects the health and safety of your employees, but it
also saves you from expensive litigation you could face if you accidentally
expose the outside environment and nearby residents to the potentially
hazardous toxins on the worksite.
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) all have input on HAZWOPER’s regulations
because of the widespread effect hazardous waste has on the population as a
whole, not just the industries’ workforces. This document will help you
understand the basic requirements of HAZWOPER and determine whether you are in
compliance. For a complete list of HAZWOPER requirements or to read the
standard in its entirety, visit www.OSHA.gov and search HAZWOPER (Standard 29
to the following types of operations, unless the employer can demonstrate that
the operation does not involve the reasonable possibility of employee exposure
to safety or health hazards:
- Cleanup operations
required by a government body (federal, state or local) involving hazardous
substances conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites
- Corrective actions
involving cleanup operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA)
- Voluntary cleanup
operations at sites recognized by government bodies (federal, state or local)
as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites
- Operations involving
hazardous waste conducted at treatment, storage or disposal facilities
Following the HAZWOPER standard not only protects the health
and safety of your employees, but can also save you from expensive litigation.
as an emergency under HAZWOPER can vary, and you should consider the nature of
your operation and the extent of your employees’ training. For example, small
acid spills by a firm that routinely handles acids would not be an emergency;
however, the same situation might be considered an immediate hazard on a site
where employees have less training, equipment or experience. In the event that
employees are in the following situations, the HAZWOPER standard would apply:
- Presence of high
concentrations of toxic substances
- Any situation involving
hazardous substances that is life- or injury-threatening
- Environments that
present imminent danger to life and health (IDLH situations)
- Accidents that
present an oxygen-deficient atmosphere
- Conditions that pose
a fire or explosion hazard
- Any situation that
requires the evacuation of an area or that requires immediate attention because
of the danger posed to employees in that area
provides specific safety regulations, emergency procedures and training
guidelines for employers to follow at worksites that handle hazardous waste or
who have the potential for accidental release of dangerous chemical substances.
HAZWOPER’s main goal is to get employers to think about how they would handle a
spill before it occurs.
five basic training levels related to chemical emergency response, and training
requirements for these five groups vary depending on how closely they work with
the hazardous material spill. All training must be completed upon hiring for
any employee that is expected to participate in emergency response.
1. First Responder
Awareness Level — individuals likely to witness a hazardous substance release
and whose only responsibility would be notifying the proper authorities. Must
have sufficient training to demonstrate:
- Understanding of
what hazardous substances are and the risks associated with them in an incident
- Understanding of the
potential outcomes associated with a hazardous substance emergency
- The ability to
recognize the presence of hazardous substances
- The ability to
identify the hazardous substances, if possible
- The ability to
realize the need for additional resources and make appropriate notifications
2. First Responder
Operations Level — individuals who respond to releases of hazardous substances
for the purpose of protecting nearby people, property or environment from
damage. They should respond defensively by containing the release and keeping
it from spreading. Must have eight hours of training or sufficient experience
- Knowledge of hazard
and risk assessment
- Knowledge of proper
personal protective equipment (PPE) use
- Knowledge of basic
control, containment and/or confinement operations
- Understanding of
standard operating procedures
3. Hazardous Materials
Technician — individuals who respond to releases with the purpose of actively
and aggressively stopping it. They will attempt to plug, patch or otherwise
stop the hazardous substance release. Must have at least 24 hours training, all
the first responder operations knowledge and:
- Knowledge of how to
implement the employer’s emergency response plan
- Ability to classify,
identify and verify known and unknown materials by using survey equipment
- Knowledge of how to
select and use specialized chemical PPE
- Have the ability to perform advanced control, containment and/or
confinement operations with the resources and PPE availableKnowledge of basic
chemical and toxicological terminology and behavior
4. Hazardous Materials
Specialist — individuals who respond with and provide support to hazardous
material technicians, but with more specific knowledge of various hazardous
substances. Also acts as the site liaison with government authorities. Must
have 24 hours of training, all technician-level knowledge and
employer-certified knowledge on:
- The local, state and
federal emergency response plan
identification and verification of known and unknown materials using advanced
- The implementation
of decontamination procedures
- Advanced chemical,
radiological and toxicological terminology and behavior
5. On-Scene Incident
Commander — individuals who assume control of the incident site. Must have 24
hours of training and employer-certified competency in the following areas:
- Ability to implement
the employer’s incident command system
- Ability to implement
the employer’s emergency response plan and the local/state/federal emergency
- Understanding of the
hazards and risks associated with employees working in chemical protective
- Understanding of the
importance of decontamination procedures
notes on training regulations in the HAZWOPER standard are that measurements of
a qualified trainer can be met by academic degrees, completed training courses
and/or work experience. Also, HAZWOPER specifically addresses the use of video
or online training to satisfy requirements, saying that computer-based systems
are an incomplete solution and must be supplemented.
important section of the HAZWOPER section you should take note of is the need
for an emergency response plan with regard to hazardous substance releases.
HAZWOPER gives the following guidelines for employers’ emergency response
plans, saying it should at least include the following:
- Personnel roles,
lines of authority, training and communication standards
recognition and prevention
- List of safe
distances and places of refuge
- Site security and
- Evacuation routes
- Emergency medical
treatment and first aid procedures
- Emergency alerting
and response procedures
- Critiques and
follow-ups on previous emergency response situations
information on how you can further implement HAZWOPER loss control methods,
contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc..