Elevated Safety: Pre-work Checklist Helps Prevent Dropped Objects on Construction Sites
By Steve Cox, CSP, District HSE Manager, PCL Construction
With so many large construction projects underway in Denver, on very compact construction sites, the risk of falling objects from building heights has been amplified. The threat of tools and materials falling to the ground below puts people and property in jeopardy, and it’s imperative for construction safety professionals to do all they can to eliminate the risk.
Fortunately, new initiatives are being established that take a serious look at what can be done to prevent objects from falling from a building, and if something does drop, to keep it from landing on the street below. These initiatives include pre-planning meetings specifically for addressing overhead protection; solutions for vertical and horizontal debris containment; tethering tools with lanyards; erecting safe and secure barricades; limiting the amount of material and number of tools that can be taken to elevated work positions and establishing a mandatory checklist for workers who are working above the ground.
Before any construction worker enters an elevator or a lift, or even climbs a ladder, they should adhere to a strict “Elevated Pre-Work” checklist. A checklist will serve as an important safety reminder, while also helping to ensure nothing will fall to the streetscape below. Some of the important items to include on checklist include:
Tool and Material Retention and Containment
o Does the Pre-Job Safety Instruction (PSI) identify specific controls for tool retention and containment?
o Are tool lanyards used and attached properly to prevent “slip out”?
o Are tools that are not being used secured in a tool belt or tool bag, or removed to an appropriate location?
o Are suitable and approved containment devices used to hoist tool and materials?
o Are tool bags or pails used to secure small materials?
o Are controls in place to protect workers below?
o Is proper flagging and/or a designated ground person in place?
o Is there a proper barricade tag or signage in place?
o Is material that is being installed lashed/secured to prevent it from falling?
o Is the lashing properly rated for the material it is securing?
o Is an Exclusion Zone established below?
o Does the task require a Controlled Access Zone to protect workers and the public below?
o Are tools limited to the specific task-at-hand?
o Is debris netting in place on perimeter guardrail system?
o Is the area cleaned-up and all other material secured from weather/wind and cannot drop?
o Are proper rigging/ropes and/or lashing being used to lift or secure materials?
End of Day Review
o Are all materials properly secured so they can’t be moved by weather and potentially fall between shifts?
o Is all debris and trash cleaned up and removed from the task area?
o Are hole coverings re-installed?
o Are materials, tools and equipment kept at least six feet from the building edge and doesn’t create a tripping hazard?
Establishing a proactive checklist for supervisors and workers will not only eliminate risks of falling tools or materials, but it will keep everyone actively engaged about safety when working above ground. Dropped items is an industry-wide safety concern that every construction professional should pay strict attention to. Sharing solutions and addressing any potential risks is the job of our industry as a whole and the people who are charged with maintaining a safe construction site.