Workplace Safety Guides

   Framing Safety in Residential Construction


Working in construction is roughly three times more dangerous than most occupations. The vast majority of serious injuries in this industry occur in residential construction.

There are many safety-related requirements that employers must follow in order to provide a safe workplace for employees. For example, the construction employer is required to provide a written accident prevention program. The safety program must be tailored to the operation and types of hazards involved. There should be a safety meeting at the beginning of the job and weekly thereafter to address safety and health on the job. Sometimes these are held by the general contractor and sometimes by the subcontractor -- someone present with first aid training. First aid supplies and a portable first aid kit for transient or short duration jobs and Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, necessary to do the job safely.

More information on matters related to workplace safety and health, as well as copies of the safety standards for construction work, are available by contacting your local labor and industries office.

It's important to review examples of safe work habits during the framing phase of residential construction. These areas include: safety preparation, safe access, guardrails, raising walls, rolling trusses and roof sheeting.

Upon arriving at the site, survey the work area to evaluate any potential safety hazards. Look for the location of trenches or excavations near or around the foundation. Be aware of rebar that creates an impalement hazard. Cap, cover or bend rebar or any impalement hazard. Seismic straps that could cause cuts, scrapes and abrasions should be positioned so as not to create a hazard while working around the foundation. Be aware of other hazards such as construction debris that could create potential tripping, slipping hazards. Note any hazards and get them corrected immediately.

Preparation begins with proper tools for the job. Make sure saws have adequate guards that operate properly. Be sure that all pneumatic nailers or staplers are equipped with a muzzle guard and in proper operating condition to prevent misfiring and injury. Ensure that cords are in good condition and have proper grounding. Use the proper size cord for the job and use GFCIs to protect from electrical shock.

When unbanding a lumber package, be aware of possible shifting of the load. If the load is on unlevel ground or is otherwise unstable, then remove bands from the uphill or stable side. If power cords or hoses are run across roads, driveways or other areas where vehicles or other equipment maybe moving, they need to be protected from damage. One way to do this would be to build a trough to run them through so vehicle traffic will not damage them.

At a minimum, weekly safety inspections of the worksite are required during the course of construction because conditions at the worksite continually change. Housekeeping is a constant challenge. Keep the work area and frequently traveled areas clear of debris to prevent tripping, slipping hazards. Nails sticking out of boards need to be bent or removed. Electrical cords that are frayed or damaged need to be repaired and or replaced. Check to see that guardrails are in place and in good condition.

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