Safety Articles

OSHA Resources:

·        Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades

·        Construction eTool – Struck-By

·        Construction  Focus Four: Struck‐By  Hazards INSTRUCTOR GUIDE and Training Materials (OSHA Outreach Training Module)

·        Quick Card: Top Four Construction Hazards (Spanish)

·        Struck-by Accidents in Construction/Vehicle Back-Over (Video available in English and Spanish)

·        OSHA and Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Partners Alliance brochure -  High Visibility Clothing For Heavy & Highway Construction

Heat Safety


The hot, hazy days of summer can spell trouble for those who work outdoors in direct sunlight or in hot environments, making them susceptible to heat-induced illnesses such as heat stress, heat exhaustion or the more serious heat stroke.

When you're working in the heat, safety comes first. OSHA-NIOSH developed a Heat Safety Tool so you have vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it - right on your mobile phone.

The App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Then, with a simple "click," you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness - reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions.


Stay informed and safe in the heat, check your risk level.


opiods  What You Need to Know About Opioids

Opioids include illicit drugs like heroin and licit prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, and others. They interact with the nervous system to relieve pain. Many users will experience extremely pleasurable effects from them, and the risk of addiction.

 Update, Facts, and Figures: Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million involved prescription pain relievers, and 25% of these people were also heroin addicts. Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. About 2/3 of these are from painkillers, and 1/3 are from heroin. The CDC estimates one in four patients prescribed opioids is currently addicted.

Problems Cause Problems: Most people obtain opioid-based prescriptions legitimately from a doctor when they experience moderate to severe pain. As more people have become addicted to opioids, prescriptions have become much harder to acquire. In April 2017, drugstores nationwide were struggling to supply customers with even codeine-based cough syrup due to a national backorder. Lack of legitimate medication has contributed to increased drug-seeking behaviors by those addicted to pain medications. Heroin on the streets can be easier and cheaper to buy than prescription pain relievers, and it is often purer. This has led to a severe rise in heroin-related deaths in the U.S., which have tripled in the last six years! In 2014 and 2015, drug deaths linked to Fentanyl were particularly high. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times more potent! The current epidemic didn’t start in dark alleys on the wrong side of town, but in well-meaning doctors’ offices. Originally, post-surgical patients or those undergoing cancer treatment were prescribed opioids to help manage moderate to severe pain, the CDC explains. Over time, physicians began writing prescriptions for long term use of these powerful medications for people with problems such as chronic arthritic pain—which started the epidemic. New CDC prescribing guidelines now encourage doctors to prescribe pain medication short term, and to take precautions to prevent patients from abusing medication. Be sure you understand the long-term effects of using opioids so you can avoid unwittingly getting addicted. Note: If you have a family history of drug/alcohol addiction, consider using a medical doctor who is certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine ( to manage pain medications if you require them.

Signs, Symptoms, and Risk Factors: Symptoms of addiction include developing a tolerance and the need for a stronger dose. Physical withdrawal may ensue when you stop taking the drug. Some patients also experience more sensitivity to pain than before they took opioids.

Risk factors for addiction include:
• History of mental illness or substance abuse.

• Living in a rural area (Lack of non-medical pain management alternatives makes prescription use more likely).
• A low income (Illicit opioids may be cheaper, and therefore sought more readily. Additionally, some studies show lower income persons experience more pain-related health conditions).

Opioid Addiction Requires Treatment: Involve the entire family in learning about addictive disease to prevent enabling. Although addicts must learn to manage their continuing abstinence from opioids and psychoactive drugs (including alcohol) to improve their chances of survival, concerned loved ones, without education, risk behaving in ways that can provoke relapse.

 Do’s and Don’ts:
• Discuss the long-term effects of opioid use with your doctor. Ask if other medications for pain are available that are less addictive—or ask about nonmedical pain management alternatives. (Not all doctors will initiate such discussions with you.)

 • Always take prescription medication as it’s prescribed. If you notice a reduced effect, phone your medical doctor. Do not take “just a little bit more.”

 • If a family member or friend appears addicted to a pain medication, do not enable him or her with money or by helping him or her obtain prescriptions.

Make the EAP Your First Stop: Does your employer sponsor an employee assistance program (EAP)? If so, it is free and confidential. Use it to seek help for yourself or someone you know struggling with any personal problem, including opioid addiction.

Traffic Control

Traffic control is the foundation for any jobsite where work is being conducted along a roadway. Vehicles DO NOT always pay attention to driving, in general, and their distractions could land a vehicle into our work areas.  

The proper signage needs to be erected prior to the start of work in accordance with the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control. The purpose of this manual is to provide signage that looks identical from work area to work area. A stop sign, for example, looks like a stop sign everywhere you go. It is the same, color, shape, font, etc. providing a clear directive for the driver.

Unlike walking, motorists are moving at rapid speeds, which means their decision-making time is being processed over a short amount of time. The brain is introduced to stimuli, in which it inputs the stimuli, codes and manipulates it through a storage process, then outputs what it has processed in the form of a reaction. At a rapid rate of travel, the brain is having to process multiple stimuli very quickly. So, the reaction time is very limited.

This is why it is important to have uniform traffic control measures. Signs and barricades provide the motorist with a clear set of instructions, so that we can communicate to them quickly where we need them to navigate, avoiding collisions and struck by potentials.


Traffic Control Essentials

  • Signs – “One Land Ahead,” “Merge Left/Right,” “Flagger,” “Road Work Ahead”
  • Cones to direct traffic flow AROUND the work area
  • Certified flaggers to STOP and RELEASE traffic. Note: Flaggers are not authorized to DIRECT traffic; only law enforcement can do so.   

Signage – Basic Requirements

  • Signs are orange and reflective
  • Signs need to be placed at specific intervals:
    • Low speeds (under 40mph) – 100’
    • High speeds (over 40mph) – 350’
    • Rural areas – 500’
  • Height of 5’ to the bottom of sign (for temporary work – breaking down each night)


Traffic Control Essentials

  • Signs – “One Land Ahead,” “Merge Left/Right,” “Flagger,” “Road Work Ahead”
  • Cones to direct traffic flow AROUND the work area
  • Certified flaggers to STOP and RELEASE traffic. Note: Flaggers are not authorized to DIRECT traffic; only law enforcement can do so.

Other Considerations

  • Flaggers
    • ATSSA-Certified
    • Class 3 Ensemble – high vis. vest and pants
    • Paddle to communicate Stop/Slow
    • Radios for effective communication between one another.
  • Cones tapered to establish the traffic flow:
  •  “Sidewalk Closed” to protect pedestrians from entering the work area
  • Discuss the traffic plan with ALL workers and discuss the operations that will take place and how they might impact traffic (for example: a backhoe needing the travel lane to maneuver and re-position itself)

Traffic Control

TOOLBOX TALK SIGN IN SHEET       DATE:_______________

Sign AFTER you have received the training


Print Name                                               Sign Name_________________________














Spring Forward and Review Your Safety Checklist

Time to Change the Clocks

Daylight Saving Time begins every year on the second Sunday in March. We "lose" an hour when the clocks are set forward, and for many, that means a tired couple of days as our bodies adjust. The consequences of fatigue can be serious, so plan accordingly.


Smoke AlarmsThree out of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Test your smoke alarms every month and replace the battery at least once a year. If the alarm makes a "chirping" sound, replace the battery immediately.

Smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and in the common areas on each floor of a home. Mount them at least 10 feet from the stove to reduce false alarms, less than 12 inches from the ceiling and away from windows, doors and ducts.  Smoke alarms can be interconnected wirelessly. That means, when one sounds, they all sound. A Consumer Product Safety Commission survey found this is the best way to notify everyone in a home if there is a fire.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors:  Anything that burns fuel can potentially become a source of carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas that can kill. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each bedroom and on every level of the home. The safety tips for CO detectors mirror those of smoke alarms: change the batteries, test them and interconnect them, if possible. Also, make sure vents for your gas appliances (fireplace, dryer, stove and furnace) are free and clear of snow or debris.

Family Emergency Plan:  The National Safety Council recommends every family have an emergency plan in place in the event of a natural disaster or other catastrophic event. Spring is a great time to review that plan with family members. Have a home and car emergency kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says an emergency kit should include one gallon of water per day for each person, at least a three-day supply of food, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, filter mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape, and medicines. Visit the FEMA website for a complete list.

Get Rid of Unwanted Medicines                                                      NSC recommends you take unwanted or expired medicines to a prescription drop box or take-back event near you. NSC offers free Stericycle Seal & Send envelopes, so you can send your unwanted medication to be safely destroyed.

Window Safety                                                                                With warmer temperatures arriving, it's important to practice window safety – especially in homes with young children.  Find more information about window safety.

Workplace Housekeeping & Safety

To some people, the word “housekeeping” calls to mind cleaning floors and surfaces, removing dust, and organizing clutter. But in a work setting, it means much more. Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors, according to Cari Gray, safety consultant for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It also can help an employer avoid potential fines for non-compliance.

The practice extends from traditional offices to industrial workplaces, including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that present special challenges such as hazardous materials, combustible dust and other flammables. Experts agree that all workplace safety programs should incorporate housekeeping, and every worker should play a part. In addition, housekeeping should have management’s commitment so workers realize its importance. Here are 11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping.

1. Prevent slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard (1910.22(a)) states that all workplaces should be “kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.” The rule includes passageways, storerooms and service rooms. Floors should be clean and dry. Drainage should be present where “wet processes are used.”

Employers should select adequate flooring (e.g., cement, ceramic tile or another material), as different types of flooring hold up better under certain conditions, said Fred Norton, technical director of ergonomics and manufacturing technology for Risk Control Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance in Walnut Creek, CA. Then, develop and implement housekeeping procedures using appropriate cleaners.

“Things like oils and grease – if you don’t use the right kind of cleaning protocols, you’ll just spread slipperiness around rather than getting it up and off the floor,” Norton said.

To help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety recommends the following:

  • Report and clean up spills and leaks.
  • Keep aisles and exits clear of items.
  • Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots.
  • Replace worn, ripped or damage flooring.
  • Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.
  • Use drip pans and guards.

In addition, provide mats, platforms, false floors or “other dry standing places” where useful, according to OSHA. Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards.

Gray added that employers should audit for trip hazards, and encourage workers to focus on the task at hand.

2. Eliminate fire hazards
Employees are responsible for keeping unnecessary combustible materials from accumulating in the work area. Combustible waste should be “stored in covered metal receptacles and disposed of daily,” according to OSHA’s Hazardous Materials Standard (1910.106).

The National Safety Council “Supervisors’ Safety Manual” includes these precautionary measures for fire safety:

  • Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are unneeded, move them to an assigned safe storage area.
  • Store quick-burning, flammable materials in designated locations away from ignition sources.
  • Avoid contaminating clothes with flammable liquids. Change clothes if contamination occurs.
  • Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells.
  • Keep materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls. The 18-inch distance is required, but 24 to 36 inches is recommended. Clearance of 3 feet is required between piled material and the ceiling. If stock is piled more than 15 feet high, clearance should be doubled. Check applicable codes, including Life Safety Code, ANSI/NFPA 101-2009.
  • Hazards in electrical areas should be reported, and work orders should be issued to fix them.



3. Control dust
Dust accumulation of more than 1/32 of an inch – or 0.8 millimeters – covering at least 5 percent of a room’s surface poses a significant explosion hazard, according to the Quincy, MA-based National Fire Protection Association. This dust accumulation is about as thick as a dime or paper clip.

An industrial hygienist should test the workplace for exposures if air quality and dust are concerns, Gray said.

NFPA 654 – a standard on preventing fire and dust explosions – addresses identifying hazard areas, controlling dust and housekeeping. The standard states that vacuuming is the “preferred” method of cleaning. Sweeping and water wash-down are other options. “Blow-downs” using compressed air or steam is allowed for inaccessible or unsafe surfaces.

Industrial vacuums can clean walls, ceilings, machinery and other places, CCOHS notes.

“You want to use wet methods or have high-efficiency vacuum systems,” said Steve Ahrenholz, senior industrial hygienist at NIOSH’s Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies. “You don’t want to use just a shop vac or dry-sweep it – definitely not using compressed air to blow it. [Then] you’re just re-suspending the dust and distributing it all over.”

Dust also can affect equipment’s length of life and quality of products, Ahrenholz added.


4. Avoid tracking materials
Work-area mats – which can be cloth or sticky-topped – should be kept clean and maintained. This helps prevent the spread of hazardous materials to other work areas or home, Gray said. Check all mats to ensure they are not tripping hazards.

Additionally, separate cleaning protocols may be needed for different areas to prevent cross-contamination, Norton notes. Avoid using the same mop to clean both an oily spill and in another area, for example.

If the materials are toxic, industrial hygiene testing, uniforms and showering facilities might be needed, Gray said. Employees who work with toxic materials should not wear their work clothes home, Ahrenholz added.


5. Prevent falling objects
Gray noted that protections such as a toe board, toe rail or net can help prevent objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment.

Other tips include stacking boxes and materials straight up and down to keep them from falling, said Paul Errico, a Fairfield, CT-based safety consultant. Place heavy objects on lower shelves, and keep equipment away from the edges of desks and tables. Also, refrain from stacking objects in areas where workers walk, including aisles.

Keep layout in mind so workers are not exposed to hazards as they walk through areas, Norton added.


6. Clear clutter
A cluttered workplace can lead to ergonomics issues and possible injuries because workers have less space to move, Gray said.

“When an area is cluttered, you’re going to likely have a cut or laceration injury,” she said. “You’re not going to have as much room to set up your workstation like you should and move around. You’re going to be twisting your body rather than moving your whole body.”

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recommends that workers return tools and other materials to storage after using them, and dispose of materials that are no longer needed.

Keep aisles, stairways, emergency exits, electrical panels and doors clear of clutter, and purge untidy areas. Empty trash receptacles before they overflow.

7. Store materials properly
According to OSHA’s Materials Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal Standard (1926.250), storage areas should not have an accumulation of materials that present hazards for tripping, fire, explosion or pests.

Some workers make the mistake of storing ladders or other items inside electrical closets where they can block an electrical panel, creating a fire hazard and violating OSHA regulations, Errico said.

“I found that in a couple places. That would surprise employers if they’re not looking for it,” Errico said. “It’s important that they stay on top of it; realize it’s not just the manufacturing floor, maintenance area, warehouse or main storage areas, but these little areas in buildings that create a problem with storage.”

Unused materials and equipment should be stored out of the way of workers. Avoid using workspaces for storage, according to CCOHS. And remember to put everything back in its proper place, Ohio BWC adds.

Ahrenholz recommends keeping a storage space nearby so workers are encouraged to use it.

“There’s a responsibility to keep your work area in order and return tools to where they belong,” he said. “The storage space, if readily useable, is designed in such a way where it can be used without stretching too far or lifting heavy loads. They’re more likely to use it than if they have to go quite a ways to place something. Or they’re going to keep something rather than go back because they have to take the extra time to get it.”


8. Use and inspect personal protective equipment and tools
Errico has seen workers’ compensation cases stemming from employees who did not wear PPE when cleaning up spills or other material, such as broken glass or plywood, and then suffered cuts or splinters.

Wear basic PPE – such as closed-toe shoes and safety glasses – while performing housekeeping, Gray said. Determine what type of PPE to don based on the potential risks.

Regularly inspect, clean and fix tools, according to CCOHS. Remove any damaged tools from the work area.


9. Determine frequency
All workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.

“Every worker does have a role in housekeeping,” Ahrenholz said. “If they see something is becoming a problem, they need to report it.”

Before the end of a shift, workers should inspect and clean their workspaces and remove unused materials. This dedication can reduce time spent cleaning later, experts say.

How much debris or contaminants the workplace releases can help determine the frequency of housekeeping. A company should have a mixture of deep cleaning and more frequent, lighter cleaning that involves sweeping and responding to spills, Norton said.

10. Create written rules
Experts agree that housekeeping policies should be put in writing. That way, Norton said, they are formal and defined. Written protocols could specify which cleaners, tools and methods should be used.

“We found there are many gaps in the effectiveness of floor cleaning in the operations we’ve done research on,” Norton said. “It is an area that sometimes gets overlooked. That’s why we think it’s important for the written part of the protocols and defined training so people are aware of and follow the proper procedures.”


11. Think long-term
Housekeeping should be more than a one-time initiative – it should continue through monitoring and auditing. Keep records, maintain a regular walkthrough inspection schedule, report hazards and train employees to help sustain housekeeping. Set goals and expectations, and base auditing on those goals, Gray said.“Housekeeping issues are very common. They can be easy to fix,” she said. “It’s going to take persistence and dedication.”


OSHA lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable silica.

OSHA issued a revised National Emphasis Program (NEP) February 5, 2020 to identify and

reduce or eliminate worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica. The NEP targets specific

industries expected to have the highest numbers of workers exposed to silica, such as

construction, and focuses on enforcement of the new silica standard covered in 29 CFR

1926.1153.  The original standard became effective June 2016 and construction employers

were required to begin complying with the standard as of September 23, 2017. Companies that

engage in construction activities that include excavating, cutting, grinding, sawing, drilling and

crushing materials such as stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar are required to have a

written respirable crystalline silica program.  

  • Revised application to the lower permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter in an 8-hour time-weighted average.
  •  Area offices will develop randomized establishment list of employers in their local jurisdictions for targeted inspections.
  • All OSHA regional and area offices must comply with this NEP, but they are not required to develop and implement corresponding regional or local emphasis programs.
  • OSHA will conduct 90 days of compliance assistance for stakeholders prior to beginning programmed inspections.

Additional information on the health effects from silica exposure can be found on  OSHA’s

Safety and Health Topics webpage on Crystalline Silica.


Attractive Nuisance

An attractive nuisance is a legal term used to describe an artificial condition that is created by a property owner that could injure someone stepping onto that property. Examples may include an abandoned car, unguarded swimming pool, or an open pits.

This term is mainly directed at children due to their curious nature, but also their inability to appreciate the peril of the situation therein. The “landowner” owes no duty to a trespasser except to refrain from causing willful and wanton injury. But, this term can also accurately describe the behavior of adults (drunk college kids, bored teenagers, anyone with bad judgement, people looking for a payout, etc.)

How does this apply to construction?

Construction equipment and work zones can present many reasons for a passerby to become curious. They may enter the work area to steal, vandalize, show off to their friends, or just out of pure ignorance. Examples may include:

  • A house under construction, with no doors or windows installed yet
  • An open hole or excavation left unguarded
  • A machine with the keys in it

Steps need to be taken to prevent this attraction, because in many cases, the construction company will be held liable for any injury that may occur. At that point the burden of proof lies on the company – the company now has to defend themselves from what is likely a ridiculous claim to begin with.


Potential outcomes

  • The company has to endure the long, arduous legal process which can waste a lot of time and cost a lot of money.
  • Company representatives have to dig into the files and produce good, solid proof as to why they are not held liable (responsible).
  • The company can be sued and pay big money to the plaintiff (the accuser).
  • Someone gets seriously hurt or killed as a result of our work area (guilt factor).


How can we prevent this?

It is our duty as a construction company to identify hazardous conditions on our work sites and to “take reasonable precautions to protect others.” This includes the general public. The general public may not recognize those hazards and may not understand the danger associated with them.

Things to remember during the workday and securing the worksite overnight:

  • Assess the overall work area and determine who can fall into what. Can someone walking by trip? Ride their bike into our trench? Drive a vehicle through our work site?
  • Cover any open holes with plates or plywood. Spray “HOLE” on plywood covering so they are not mistaken for just a piece of plywood laying on the ground. This communicates that there is nothing underneath that covering. (Plates can’t be moved by the average pedestrian, so this need not apply.)
  • Barricade work areas. Use cones/cone bars, caution tape, orange construction fencing, etc. to make it painfully obvious to the most unreasonable person that this is a work zone – stay out.
  • Use signs to warn of the work area. Road work signs, “sidewalk closed / cross here,” can all communicate to others that this is a danger area.
  • Do not leave keys in machinery. Do not leave machinery and equipment (jumping jacks, chop saws, backhoes, excavators) running unless it is in line of sight and you can monitor it. A random person might jump in and take something for a joy ride.

The goal is to create an “open and obvious” scenario. This means an “average user with ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover the danger upon casual inspection.” Most people can recognize cones, barrels, barricades, etc. These are instrumental in shifting the liability



Associated Builders and Contractors
(ABC) is a national association that advances and defends the principles of the merit shop in the construction industry and provides its members with an opportunity to succeed.
The ABC Delaware office is located in the Airport Industrial Park near the intersection of Route 13 & 273 in New Castle.
ABC Delaware
31 Blevins Drive, Suite B
Airport Industrial Park
 New Castle, DE 19720
(302) 328-1111
(302) 323-1122 fax
Kent/Sussex Office
28 the Circle in Georgetown. Located on the 2nd floor of the historic “Richards Mansion”, Georgetown DE  19947
(302) 858-2185

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