Construction safety report highlights common jobsite risks

“Getting Results—The Value of CPWR,” a report produced by The Center for Construction Research and Training (formerly the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, or CPWR), includes information on hazards and safety issues found on residential construction sites.

Frequency of top self-reported hazardous exposures in the last six months (among 117 Latino construction laborers attending the OSHA-10 Training in New Jersey):

  • Noise requiring workers to shout to be understood – 59% reported hazard occurred once/few times.
  • Operating power tools – 57% reported hazard occurred often.
  • Potential for falling objects from above – 64% reported hazard occurred once/few times.
  • Lifting or carrying loads of 40 lbs. or more – 62% reported hazard occurred often.
  • Breathing concrete, brick or stone dust – 54% reported hazard occurred often.
  • Working close to exposed wires/electrical hazards – 54% reported hazard occurred once/few times.

The high frequency of these hazards means they are likely to be found on your jobsite as well. NARI members should work with its field staff to reduce the frequency or find solutions for working safely around these potential dangers.

Health risks associated with polyurethane spray-foam insulation

Homeowners are drawn to the energy-efficiency benefits of spray-foam insulation, but remodelers should be aware of the health risks associated with chemicals spray-foam insulation, such as isocyanates and potent sensitizers. According to the report, exposure to chemicals found in spray-foam insulation can result in asthma, irritation in mucous membranes and blurred vision.

New research examining insulators shows, “Twenty-five percent of the insulators exhibited work-related asthma symptoms—a frequency several times greater than the general construction labor population.” Because asthmatic symptoms could have long-term effects, the organization is now developing an intervention system to reduce this harmful exposure.

NARI members working with polyurethane spray-foam insulation need to ensure insulators are properly protected against these dangerous exposures at all times. For example, insulators should wear glasses, long sleeves, gloves and a respirator as well as worksite protection, such as surface coverings, ventilation considerations and designated work areas should be planned ahead of time.

Learn more about spray-foam safety at http://www.spraypolyurethane.org/default.aspx.

Nail gun injury prevention

Data from 2003’s “Nail gun injuries in residential carpentry: Lessons from active injury surveillance” study measured the incidence of nail gun injuries in residential carpentry over a 37-month time period. During the surveillance based in St. Louis, Mo., researchers discovered 14% of all injuries involved nail guns and 90 percent of nail gun injuries involved nail punctures in the hand or fingers.

Upon further examination, data also found carpenters using contact triggers were at greater risk than those working with a sequential trigger. A sequential trigger prevents misfiring of nail guns by adding a safety feature that requires the gun opening to be depressed before a trigger fires a nail.

Closer comparison of the tools showed sequential triggers would have likely prevented 65% of the injuries from contact trigger tools.

The discovery of these risks led to an education/training campaign targeted at residential construction workers and the development of the Nail Gun Safety guide. According to the latest report, these efforts have reduced injury rates by 71%, from 2012 to 2005.

To download the full report and other research from CPWR, visit http://www.cpwr.com/.

The Center for Construction Research and Training is a non-profit focused on protecting the safety and health of unionized construction workers. Developed by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, the organization accomplishes its mission through research of jobsite hazards and working conditions, and training programs.

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