Construction and renovation activities at the University can be performed by either outside contractors or University workers. Examples of activities that could be classified as construction include building renovations, excavation and trenching operations, painting, masonry, and certain activities associated with building systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical supply.
Construction work can be particularly hazardous. The use of personal protective equipment, fall protection, fire safety, electrical safety, and other precautions are essential for safe construction work. Refer to other chapters in this manual for more information on specific hazards.
The following rules apply to construction sites:
- Heed all warning signs that have been posted.
- Do not walk, stand, or work under suspended loads. If you raise the load, be sure to crib, block, or otherwise secure the load as soon as possible.
- Avoid placing unusual strain on equipment or materials.
- Be prepared for unexpected hazards. BE ALERT!
- Fatigue is a serious risk on the job. If you are tired, slow down, get help, or switch to a task that doesn't require as much precision. Never let too little sleep jeopardize your safety.
- If you are not sure what to do or how to do it, ask. Never go ahead on a job unless you know what you are doing, what the risks are, and how to protect yourself.
- Think of safety as one of your most important job responsibilities. Before starting each job, plan it out. Think about tools, materials, and protective equipment you will need and the procedures you will follow.
- Keep your work area clear of potential hazards such as items that you could trip over or bump into, materials that could catch fire, or chemicals that could spill.
- Never ignore a safety hazard. Either fix it or report it.
- Report all incidents and near misses to your supervisor and the Office of Safety.
- Know what to do in an emergency. There isn't time to review procedures when an emergency situation occurs. If you are unsure, ask your supervisor before you begin the job.
- Use common sense and have a good attitude.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI ) are required on all construction sites. Please see the Electrical Safety section of this manual
Barriers and Guards - Barriers and guards are required to ensure safety against existing hazards. They must be used as necessary to protect the University community from known physical hazards. If you discover a hazard that cannot be removed or sufficiently protected, notify persons working in the area and contact Office of Safety immediately.
Types of Barriers and Guards
Standard types of barriers and guards include the following:
- Guardrails and handholds
- Other physical barriers and solid separators (dust barriers, hazard barriers, temporary walkways, etc.)
Barriers and guards must be designed to protect all persons, including those with disabilities. For example, barriers should extend to the ground for those visually impaired.
Signs that state DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION must be used in conjunction with barriers or guards. Remember to make signs legible, visible, and brief.
Areas that Need Barriers or Guards
Any area that poses a physical threat to workers and/or pedestrians requires a barrier or guard. Areas that typically require permanent or temporary protection include the following:
- Open manholes
- Elevated platforms
- Areas with moving machinery
- Excavation sites
- Construction sites
- Temporary wall or floor openings
Using Barriers and Guards
The following list provides guidelines for using barriers and guards:
- When possible, reroute pedestrian and vehicular traffic to completely avoid a construction site.
- Construction sites must be marked/guarded as appropriate to protect workers and the public. Barrier fencing is required for activities that would be dangerous to the public whenever potentially hazardous activities occur in a readily accessible area. Circumstances such as location, ready access by students, or access by young children will vary from work site to the next, thus requiring varying levels of protection. Marking/guarding requirements must be determined beforehand and included in project specifications. Consult the Office of Safety as necessary to ensure adequate guarding is planned.
- Guard any permanent ground opening into which a person could fall with a guardrail, load-bearing cover, or other physical barrier.
- Ensure that temporary floor openings, such as pits and open manholes, are secured with fencing or protected with a rigid barrier. If it is not possible to protect the opening, have someone constantly attend it.
- In situations in which persons may pass below walking or working surfaces, toe-boards must be used to prevent injuries from falling objects. Toe-boards must also be used if moving machinery is below the walking or working surface.
- Enclosed stairways with four or more steps must have at least one railing. Open stairways with four or more steps must have two railings.
- Wall openings that are more than 30 inches high x 18 inches wide and with a bottom ledge of less than 39 inches from the walking/working surface must be guarded whenever the floor/level below is greater than four feet (6 feet for construction activities) or when above dangerous equipment.
- Mark and guard any unattended excavation that is deeper than 12 inches.
- Mark and/or guard potholes and sidewalk damage as appropriate to minimize the tripping hazard to pedestrians.
Plan Review - In those structures to be altered or renovated, or when a new structure is to be built, it is the responsibility of the Director of Facilities to insure that unsafe conditions are eliminated. Prior to beginning construction on the building to be altered or renovated, or any new construction, all applicable codes and safety precautions must be addressed. Plans will be reviewed by Facilities and the Office of Safety. The Office of Safety has the authority to conduct periodic inspections to ensure compliance with applicable safety codes and to see that appropriate safety precautions are being followed.
For further information, contact the Director of Facilities, 701-777-2591, or Office of Safety at 701-777-3341.