Three Winter Safety Tips for Construction Workers

Three Winter Safety Tips for Construction Workers

The leaves have turned, the sky has gone gray and the temperature has dropped. Fall is officially transitioning to winter, and as it does, TP Mechanical applies our “safety first, always first” mantra to help construction workers deal with the additional challenges they face on the job during the colder months.

Whether its colder temperatures, inclement weather or increased jobsite hazards, winter presents several threats to worker health and safety. Here are three tips to keep construction workers safe in extreme and unusual work conditions.

Tip #1 – Stay Warm by Wearing Winter Gear and Limiting Outdoor Exposure

The most obvious threat winter poses to worker safety is cold and inclement weather. Being aware of daily forecasts and requiring workers to wear the right gear for the job are paramount to keeping them healthy and safe. Boots, gloves, hats, heavy coats, rain gear and more are all essentials to staying warm and preventing hypothermia. Additionally, providing workers with a warm environment for short and frequent breaks can go a long way in protection from the harsh elements.

Health issues, from as minor as a common cold to as severe as hypothermia or frostbite, are often more likely to pop up during the winter, and proper protection can’t always prevent them. Properly educating workers on what symptoms to look for may help them remove themselves from the elements before it becomes dangerous to their health and seek medical treatment sooner.

Here are signs and symptoms of hypothermia:

  • Cool skin
  • Slower, irregular breathing
  • Slower heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Severe shaking
  • Rigid muscles
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory lapses

The following are signs and symptoms of frostbite:

  • Paleness of the skin
  • Sensation of coldness or pain
  • Pain disappears after a while with the freezing of the tissues.
  • Tissues become increasingly whiter and harder.

Tip #2 – Inspect All Jobsites Daily

Winter weather often means snow and ice, creating additional fall hazards on a worksite. Snow and ice should be removed from the jobsite prior to allowing workers into it. Putting down salt is key to preventing slips and falls from refreeze.

During the winter, weather changes can often be severe and sudden. Precautions should be taken to ensure plans are in place if bad weather strikes without warning to keep workers safe (e.g., utilizing proper lighting and signage on the jobsite in case visibility is decreased).

Tip #3 – Prepare Necessary Vehicles for the Cold

In addition to completing a full inspection of any vehicles before they enter a jobsite, make sure they are stocked with necessities for dealing with winter weather. Supply vehicles with winter emergency kits including items like:

  • Flashlights
  • Extra Batteries
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Blankets
  • Ice Scrapers
  • Shovels
  • Tow Chains
  • Emergency Flares

These items aren’t simply useful commodities – they can be life-saving if conditions on a jobsite degrade rapidly without warning or if another emergency occurs. Make sure every worker knows where to find the kit in every vehicle on the jobsite.

”Safety first, always first” rings true year-round, but winter weather presents different challenges. Taking proper precautions on the jobsite and providing workers with the necessary gear and knowledge to stay warm and safe are critical this time of year.

For more information

Learn more about how safety is a way of life at TP Mechanical and then Contact Us to see how we can provide comprehensive mechanical services for your next project.

Key Safety Guidelines for Working in Confined Spaces

“Safety First, Always First.”

Utilizing proper safety guidelines while working in or around confined spaces on a jobsite is imperative to protecting our employees and clients.

OSHA defines a confined space as any place on a jobsite that has limited means of entry and/or exit, is large enough for a worker to enter it and is not intended for regular/continuous occupancy.

There are two types of confined spaces – non-permit-required and permit-required. A non-permit-required confined space does not contain atmospheric hazards or have the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or serious physical harm.

OSHA defines a permit-required space as having one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
  • Has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area that could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
  • Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires or heat stress

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 136 workers were killed in incidents associated with confined spaces in 2015.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, clients, partners and the general public,” says Jamie Absher, Safety Specialist at TP Mechanical. “By doing things like participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and partnering with safety experts, we put ourselves in a position to prevent injuries like those that can be caused by working in confined spaces.”

Some of the key OSHA guidelines involving confined spaces:

  • Evaluate the workplace and clearly identify any permit-required confined spaces with the proper signage
  • Test atmospheric conditions before entry and purge, make inert, flush and/or continuously ventilate the permit space as necessary to eliminate or control atmospheric hazards
  • Provide, maintain and require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – including self-contained breathing apparatus and personal fall protection when appropriate – and any other equipment necessary for safe entry

For full guidelines, please refer to the OSHA Confined Space Standard, CFR 1910.146.

To learn more about our commitment to workplace health and safety, visit tpmechanical.com/about-tp/safety.

“Back to School” Means Time for Water System Flushing

Safety First, Always First” is about more than the equipment we wear and the precautions we take on jobsites. Preventative maintenance goes a long way in protecting the health and safety of all from hazards that aren’t always visible. An example of this is water system flushing to eliminate Legionella bacteria or other contaminants in schools during summer break.

Legionella is known to survive and colonize in building water systems due to its presence in source waters. Hot water and water passing through older and lower volume systems are particularly susceptible because warm temperatures and thicker biofilm buildups are risk factors for Legionella colonization.

In general, concentrations of the bacteria in building water supplies are very low. However, when the conditions are right – for example, an older school experiencing an abrupt and steep reduction in water usage while on summer break – the chance for colonization exists.

Methods of Water System Flushing

Routine and systematic monitoring serves as an alarm to determine whether there is contamination and if remediation is necessary. The most common remediation techniques to eliminate Legionella in building water systems include:

  • Super-chlorination – introducing free chlorine (Cl) gas to increase Cl levels system-wide for a few hours to achieve a concentration greater than 5 parts per million (ppm) and flushing the entire system
  • Super-heating – raising the water temperature to 160ºF (70ºC) or higher for one hour for every ten years of water system age and flushing the entire system
  • Drying and flushing – disconnecting the entire water system, draining all the water and blowing hot, dry air through the pipes, and then reconnecting the water to flush the system

With every water system installed, TP Mechanical trains owners and maintenance personnel on preventing these types of water quality issues. We provide third party documentation showing we have met code requirements and are turning over a clean, safe water system.

With children everywhere heading back to school after a long summer off, it’s important to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

For more information

Learn more about how safety is a way of life at TP Mechanical and then Contact Us to see how we can provide comprehensive mechanical services for your next project.

Protecting Clients and the General Public from Job Sites with Proper Barriers and Signs

“Safety First, Always First.”

That is our first core value at TP Mechanical, and it is critical to carrying out our mission.

Safety on job sites is not only important to protecting our employees, but also our clients and the general public. A key component of keeping everyone near a work site safe is defining a clear perimeter by utilizing proper barriers and signs.

With the “Safety First, Always First” mindset, TP Mechanical adheres to all industry safety guidelines and standards. We protect our employees, clients and the general public on a work site by using proper barriers and signs to meet OSHA safety and health regulations as well as those set by the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Safety Engineers (ANSI/ASSE).

When protecting a job site, do:

  • Notify the public of any closed areas and clearly mark safe, alternative areas for pedestrian traffic
  • Maintain and keep pedestrian traffic areas well-lit so that slipping, tripping and falling hazards are reduced
  • Protect public areas adjacent to job sites from construction objects or debris with appropriate barriers, catch platforms, enclosures, perimeter or vertical debris netting, sheds, overhangs, scaffolding or similar structures

When protecting a job site, do not:

  • Block public ingress or egress routes (i.e., stairways, doors, entrances, exits, paths or hallways)
  • Let anyone without required special licenses, permits or operator training use associated machinery or vehicles
  • Store hazardous materials in anything other than properly labeled, approved containers away from the public

In September 2005, TP Mechanical became the first mechanical contractor in the U.S. to achieve the exemplary designation as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) participant. Our participation in VPP allows us to continually improve our safety and health management systems, and exemplifies our relentless pursuit of the highest safety standards for our employees, clients and the general public.

TP Mechanical Hits Another Major Safety Milestone

TP Mechanical has now surpassed 3 million man-hours without a lost-time accident.

By committing to our “Safety First, Always First” core value, we make it our primary goal to ensure our employees, clients and members of the general public return home to their families safely every night.

“We are more than proud to achieve 3 million hours without a lost workday injury,” said TP Mechanical Corporate Safety Director Rick Absher. “We are looking forward to reaching the next milestone as we continue to make the safety of our employees, clients and jobsites our foremost priority.”

Reaching milestones like this isn’t achieved by merely doing what’s required. That’s why we go above and beyond by participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).

Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of organizations that have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health—that’s why we were so proud to be the first mechanical contractor in the U.S. to receive this designation in 2005.

Through VPP, we’ve implemented meticulous safety and health management practices that address hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment and worker involvement. We voluntarily submit to rigorous evaluations to identify ways that we can continue to improve our system.

Being proactive about safety is critical to protecting our employees and jobsites, upholding our core values and executing our mission.

As our streak continues, we promise to keep delivering “Safety First, Always First” – that’s the TP Mechanical guarantee.

For more information

Learn more about how safety is a way of life at TP Mechanical and then Contact Us to see how we can provide comprehensive mechanical services for your next project.

We’re Number 1!

Our “Safety First, Always First” core value certainly rang true at the AGC National Safety Awards.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) named TP Mechanical as the National Safety Contractor of the Year for companies that performed more than 1 million man-hours per year.

Five AGC judges, including representatives from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Naval Department and Intel, based their decision on:

  • Company management commitment
  • Active employee participation
  • Safety training
  • Work site hazard identification and control
  • Safety program

The TP Mechanical staff is proud of our AGC award and the recognition of our efforts to live up to the highest standards of safety. We’re even prouder of the fact that our employees go home every night injury free, and our safety record helps deliver optimal results and cost savings to our customers.

Our AGC award is another important step in our journey of success. Moving forward, we promise to keep delivering Safety First, Always First – that’s the TP Mechanical guarantee.

For more information
Learn more about how safety is a way of life at TP Mechanical and then Contact Us to see how we can provide comprehensive mechanical services for your next project.

How We Expect to Build on a Successful 2017

TP Mechanical has been a leader in providing contractor services for large-scale construction projects ranging from factories to schools to hospitals since 1953.

We’ve built on this successful tradition in 2016, and we expect an even more successful future because of our safety programs, innovative thinking and technology capabilities for plumbing, HVAC and fire protection service.

Safety First, Always First

TP Mechanical has performed, as of early August, more than 2 million man-hours of work without a lost-time accident – nearly one-third the industry average. We work closely with OSHA, participating in its safety training programs and Voluntary Protection Program to reduce accidents on the jobsite.

President and CEO Bill Riddle says safety drives the TP Mechanical culture, and due to all these efforts, our 2016 safety awards include:

  • ABC | Step Platinum Award
  • ABC Employer of the Year Safety Award
  • ABC Award of Excellence for The Christ Hospital Orthopedic & Spine Mechanical Commercial $2 to $10 million
  • ABC Award of Merit for the Summit Country Day Mechanical Commercial $2 to $10 million

Innovative Thinking

TP Mechanical’s innovation and forward-thinking problem-solving are major drivers for success. “I think we’re on the cutting edge with technology and processes,” Riddle says.

One of our biggest innovations is completing almost 30 percent of our project in the regulated environment of our fabrication shop before starting work on-site. More than 60 employees staff the shop for around-the-clock operations, incorporating advanced automation technology such as automated welding machines and tracking software to ensure workflow is managed smoothly.

A Bright Future

TP Mechanical will continue implementing technologies, such as BIM for rendering projects in a 3-D model. Riddle believes TP Mechanical will continue to find success with a focus on innovation and a dedication to safety, “I believe that over the next couple of years we should experience continuous growth in our industry.”

We look forward to sharing that success with you in 2017 and beyond; please Contact Us for your next project.

Lead Water Poisoning

Presented by TP Mechanical | Provided by HORAN

Although lead-based paint and dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning, drinking water is sometimes a source as well. This is mostly due to old, corroded pipes.

High levels of lead in the bloodstream can cause serious health effects, especially in children under the age of 6. Symptoms of lead poisoning in children include developmental delay, learning difficulties, irritability, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation and hearing loss.

Since you can’t see, smell or taste lead in water, the only way to detect it is to have the water tested. If your home is served by public water systems, your local water authority should be able to provide this information. You can also use an at-home lead-testing kit.

If your tap water’s lead levels exceed 15 ppb, you can possibly reduce the threat of lead poisoning by doing the following:

  • Run cold water for at least a minute before using or drinking it.
  • Do not use hot tap water for drinking and cooking, since hot water draws lead from the corroded pipes. Instead, use cold tap water and heat it on the stove.
  • Invest in a home water filtration system that reduces the amount of lead in your water.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Readers should contact a health professional for appropriate advice. © 2016 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Zika: What You Should Know

Presented by TP Mechanical | Provided by HORAN

A relatively new virus is prompting worldwide concern because of how quickly it is spreading across the globe. Also alarming is its connection to microcephaly, a neurological birth disorder. Transmitted by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Zika virus is rare because it can infect the fetuses of pregnant women who have the virus.

Symptoms of Zika are generally mild and include headaches, fever, rash and sometimes conjunctivitis (pink eye). Most people don’t even realize that they have been infected by the virus, which is why it is such a concern for pregnant women.

The Zika virus has spread to more than 20 countries since May of 2015. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning pregnant women against travel to any affected areas. Furthermore, health officials in several of those countries are telling female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases, for up to two years. Several states have confirmed the virus in individuals who traveled to areas where the virus is circulating.

Researchers are working to create a Zika vaccine. Until then, the best method of prevention is to avoid travel to areas with active infestations. If you do travel to one of these areas, be sure to wear mosquito repellent and thick clothing that covers as much of your body as possible. Unlike most mosquitos, the type that carries Zika is most active during the daytime hours until dusk, and it also prefers to be indoors. This makes it very important to use screen doors and windows and to stay in air-conditioned hotels when possible.

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