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Safety Tips

Protect ironworkers

January 12, 2011

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Some of the most significant safety hazards that ironworkers face are encountered during the erection of open web steel joists, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Manufacturers require joists to be tack-welded or bolted immediately after placement. Although this holds the joist in place until the bridging is installed, it provides very little lateral stability. Placing any weight on the joint beyond the weight of the worker erecting the joists can cause it to flip – a very dangerous occurrence.

If the joist slips, falls over, collapses or buckles, it can result in a number of incidents, including throwing workers or equipment off the joist or supporting girder/wall. It also could cause other joists to slip.

To prevent this, Washington L&I recommends workers:

  • Do not allow loads of any kind to be placed on open web steel joists before they have been bridged. This includes staging construction loads, hoisting equipment, roofing materials and decking.
  • Follow instructions for bridging open web steel joists. Work should not be performed on the joists until they have been completely bridged.
  • Never allow employees to tie off to unbridged joists.

If a line is hit

An underground utility line struck during digging operations can be a major hazard. Colorado Springs Utilities recommends stopping work immediately when a line of any kind is struck. Do not attempt to repair the line yourself; instead, call the local utility company. If the accident resulted in a serious injury, call 911 immediately.

Additional tips for safe behavior around power lines:

  • Always assume all electrical lines are energized.
  • Never touch utility wires or anyone who is in contact with a wire.
  • Never disconnect or reconnect power lines.

If equipment comes in contact with an electrical line:

  • Move the equipment away if it can be done safely.
  • Warn anyone on the ground against touching the equipment.
  • Stay on the equipment until an emergency responder has indicated it is safe for you to get down.
  • If a fire breaks out, jump off without touching the ground and equipment at the same time, and hop away keeping both legs together.

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