Posted in: Safety Talks

Jobsite safety is one of the most important factors dealing with the ready mix profession. Roughly 90% of accidents in the ready mix industry involve backing up. The second leading hazard on a jobsite is being struck by a vehicle or an object. It is for this reason, in compliance with the ongoing safety initiative at Norwalk Ready Mix; the management is putting in place a program dealing with the issue of safety on the jobsite. The information herein will be made company procedure and will be expected to be followed by everyone employed at Norwalk Ready Mix.

This program will be presented in three separate phases. Phase One will deal with the steps to be taken before entering the jobsite, Phase Two will deal with the actions to be done on the jobsite, while Phase Three will cover the procedures of leaving the jobsite. We will also look at ways to help avoid sprains and strains on the job.
Any questions pertaining to the information in the Jobsite Safety program should be brought to either the management or the Safety Director, Jamen Hull. The objective of this program is to equip the employees of Norwalk Ready Mix with the knowledge needed to be as safe as possible on every jobsite regardless of the hazards present.

Compliance with the Jobsite Safety program is mandatory for all employees of Norwalk Ready Mix. Failure to comply with this policy can result in a written warning, suspension, or even termination. On site safety inspectors are in place at each plant and will be instructed to watch drivers and offer feedback to the Safety Director in order to help with the compliance of this program.

Phase One: Before You Enter the Jobsite

Before you enter the jobsite it is important that you assess the situation to identify and, if possible, eliminate any possible hazards that you will be facing. To do this effectively you must get out of your truck and do a walk-through. Go talk to the contractor and ask him what his plans are for positioning your truck to unload. If you feel the need to make a suggestion based on a safety issue, or if you are just simply not comfortable backing up where he tells you, express your concerns to the contractor in a professional manner. It is important that you and the contractor agree on a safe route to position your truck. If the contractor will not budge, and insist that you do something either unsafe or against our company policy, radio your dispatcher and explain your situation to him. Never do something that you are not comfortable doing without contacting the dispatcher and letting him resolve the situation.

After you and the contractor have agreed on a safe route, walk that route and familiarize yourself with it. Remove any hazards that you can such as rods, boards, or anything else you can to make the route safer. If there is a hazard that can not be removed such as a wall, pallet of materials, or even a house, take note of it and be aware of its presence when you are backing up.

When you get back to the truck, walk around it to insure that there aren’t any new hazards present that were previously absent. Did a car pull up behind you in your blind spot while you were away? Are there kids or other pedestrians there that weren’t there before? Are there any other obstacles there that just showed up in your absence? These are all things that you should be aware of before you ever get into your truck. This brief walk around could save you from a serious or deadly accident.

Phase Two: On the Jobsite

After completing the procedures listed in phase one, you can now move to phase two. The first step is to get a spotter. If you are pouring for a do-it-yourselfer or a contractor that you have never been to, be sure to agree upon the hand signals that will be used, especially STOP. The new policy of Norwalk Ready Mix is that whenever you are on a jobsite and your truck is in reverse, you must have a spotter. That means that if there is A) people or B) property around, then you must have a spotter. You must use common sense when backing. If you are in the middle of a cornfield, for whatever reason, you obviously do not need a spotter. But if you are supposed to back to the end of a cul-de-sac and in your path you have heavy construction traffic, go and get the contactor and have them back you into their job site safely. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard 1926.601(b)(4) – 1926.601(b)(4)(ii) states the following: (4)No employer shall use any motor vehicle equipment having an obstructed view to the rear unless: (4)(i) The vehicle has a reverse signal alarm audible above the surrounding noise level or, (4)(ii) The vehicle is backed up only when an observer signals that it is safe to do so. The interpretation of this standard is basically “have a back-up alarm loud enough to be heard on the jobsite or have a spotter.” The management of Norwalk Ready Mix has decided to do both. This is the safest way to perform the most dangerous duty, backing your truck.

When repositioning your truck, like on a basement for instance, pull your truck ahead and position yourself to back up. It is wise to get out of the truck first and walk the back path even though you will have a spotter. Contractors have been known to back drivers into some precarious spots in the past. Sometimes a contractor’s only thought is getting the job done in the quickest way possible. As a driver you know that the quickest way is not always the best way. By getting out of your truck for the 30 seconds that it would take to walk your back path, you give yourself the opportunity to avoid potential tire damage, getting stuck, or numerous other hazards.

If you are doing a pour on a city street and the contractor wants you to pull forward, it is extremely important for you to always be aware of what is in front of you at all times. It is not uncommon for people who are naïve about construction to pull right in front of you and just park. If you become complacent of your surroundings it would be far too easy for you to pull forward right into the other person’s vehicle. It is wise to use extra caution while you are by a driveway. People are constantly backing out of there driveways without even looking, or they could think they have enough room to get through and by the time that they scrape up their vehicle, they’re already looking at you to blame. Also remember that there is the added hazard of children, who are certainly naïve and would not hesitate to get too close. As always, when you are working on any street, have your safety vest on. If you need a safety vest, contact management or the Safety Director and we will be sure to get you one.

Your ready mix truck has a high center of gravity. There are plenty of times that the contractor would like to put your mixer on a steep hill or incline. If you feel uncomfortable with this, then just express that to the contractor. It is easier than most people think to tip a mixer over. The contractor might just be unaware of the danger that you as a professional can see. It is your responsibility to not put yourself in a position that you feel is unsafe. If the contractor refuses to listen to your concerns, call your dispatcher and let them know about the problem. The dispatcher will help you work out your problem.

Another type of pour that you will face on the job is a foundation. Footings and walls have an added danger to them as well. They are often associated with a deep excavated hole that if not handled correctly, could lead to a very serious problem. As previously stated in the Mixer Procedures program, the management of Norwalk Ready Mix has adopted a guide of how to back up to an excavated hole. If possible, back up to the trench or hole perpendicular rather than parallel. This gives you an opportunity to safely avoid a rollover. If you are forced to back up to the trench parallel however, keep one foot of distance between your tires and the edge for every one foot of depth. Therefore if you are parallel to an eight foot deep hole, your tires should be at least eight feet from the edge. As always have a spotter to direct you safely into position. The presence of a spotter does not eliminate the need to follow this procedure. A contractor might try to tell you how good the quality of the ledge is but this doesn’t matter. At all times you are to keep one foot away for every foot deep the hole is when you are parallel. If you have a problem, call in to the dispatcher.
As far as backing on the job goes, the point that Norwalk Ready Mix would like to get across is simply this: Back up in as safe a manner as possible and always use good common sense. Be aware of people and property, putting them in the safest environment that you can offer by always using a spotter in their presence.

Phase Three: Leaving the Jobsite

When the job is all done you still have jobsite safety concerns you must be concerned about. Where to wash up and pulling away from the job still pose potential hazards that you need to be aware of. Ask the contractor where they want you to wash up at the end of the job. Many times there is a dirt pile on the property that you may be told to wash out at. This is the safest place to wash up because you are generally out of the contractor’s way, and you are not in the road washing down. If you are in the street washing down in a wheelbarrow or bucket, remember to wear your safety vest. Norwalk Ready Mix is supplying traffic cones for added safety. Each mixer will be equipped with three cones that are to be staggered out in approximately 20 feet increments. Place the first cone around 10 feet from the shoulder of the road, the second around 5 and the last around 3 feet off the shoulder. It doesn’t matter if it is a busy city street or a slow county road, when you are in the road you are required to have your safety vest on, and your traffic cones out. Do not park at the bottom of a hill, a blind corner, or anywhere else that would leave you vulnerable to a motorist who could inadvertently hit you. Be cautious of other motorist at all times.
When it is time to leave, walk around your truck to insure that all hazards are out of the way. Get in the truck and be aware of people and property that may get in the way. Put your truck in reverse and pause for about 10 seconds. Use this 10 seconds to make sure that your backup alarm is indeed working and that others around you are aware that the truck is about to back up. If you are forced to back up to get out of the job, and there are either people or property in the area, get a spotter to take the few seconds needed to help you out of the job safely.

Avoiding Sprains/Strains While on the Job

Many people don’t realize the difference between a sprain and a strain. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, either a stretching or a tearing. Most common sprains are ankles, knees, and wrists. A strain is caused by either twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon. Most common strains are backs and hamstrings. A person who strained their back will often say they “pulled” their back. There are many factors that could cause a sprain or a strain in the ready mix profession. Carrying chutes on uneven or unleveled ground, twisting rather than turning when you have a heavy load such as a chute or bag of calcium, falling and catching yourself are all ways that you can injure yourself on the job. There are ways to help prevent sprains or strains however. The following are some examples of ways to keep yourself healthy and injury free:
Maintain a healthy, well balanced diet to keep your muscles strong.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Practice safety measures to help prevent falls (such as using the three point method while entering/exiting a truck or climbing a ladder, use your legs rather than your back when lifting heavy loads, turn your whole body instead of twisting your back while you are carrying a heavy load, try to avoid walking on ice in the winter if at all possible).
Wear shoes that fit properly and are suited for the tasks of your job.
Replace shoes that have worn-out tread or poor ankle support.
Do various stretching exercises every morning and throughout the day to keep your joints and muscles limber.
Ask for help carrying loads that are too heavy for you. It’s better to ask then to get hurt!

Strains/sprains accounted for 53% of all injuries in the ready mix business in 2006 as reported by the National Ready Mix Concrete Association. Than means that of all the ready mix drivers in America who will be hurt in 2007 will more than likely get a sprain/strain injury that could have easily been prevented. Norwalk Ready Mix encourages employees to maintain a healthy and safe atmosphere at work and any suggestions on how to better do so should be offered to either the management or the Safety Director. It is our goal that all of this material is presented in a manner that is completely understood by the employees of Norwalk Ready Mix. Any questions pertaining to the Jobsite Safety program be brought to the Safety Director, Jamen Hull.

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