Finalizing your pre-construction plans and starting your pile driving or drilling project is one of the most exciting phases. However, it can also be an especially hazardous part of every construction job without proper planning and safety protocols.
When using heavy equipment like a piling rig or drill, operators, management, and all crew members need to maintain vigilance to ensure the safety of every person on the job site from day one. Hazardous conditions can be caused by mechanical breakdown, crew member negligence, or unsafe operation of heavy construction equipment.
All Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines as well as local, state, and federal regulations should be followed to ensure safe site conditions and operation to avoid injury or steep fines.
Consider these factors before you begin your next drilling or piling project.
Safety Protocols Before You Break Ground
Before a job begins, you should outline all safety guidelines in a written document that is distributed to every team member. You should then have a trusted member of the leadership team thoroughly go through each item with the entire crew to ensure understanding and compliance before you even begin the job.
Keep an updated list of contact information for people to contact in case of emergency and make sure a stocked first aid kit is always onsite. Also, depending on the nature of your job site, keep an updated list of nearby hospitals, emergency centers, or medical clinics in case of an emergency. If your job site is in a remote area, you may need to invest in a dedicated first-aid person.
The superintendent should review the operating plan, equipment-related safety information, OSHA documentation protocols and keep all safety information clearly posted on all equipment and structures.
Essential Safety Gear and PPE
Make sure every crew member or site visitor has the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that this equipment is functioning correctly and not damaged or compromised in any way.
This includes hard hats that conform with American National Standards Institute Z 90.1-1969 and ensure that spare hard hats are always available. High-visibility clothing or vests should always be worn on a job site as well.
Eye coverings or goggles should also be worn, and if your project entails welding, ensure that operators are wearing shade 10 or 12 lens welding helmets. Gloves are another essential piece of PPE and can help protect hands from irritating materials and elements.
Make sure you keep a multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher in the onsite office, changing area, or tool storage house.
Ensure that your site is maintained, tidy, and well organized to reduce the risk of injury. Keep all work areas free of loose materials, debris, or pile cut-offs.
Also, ensure that ladders are properly built and maintained and have side rails that extend 36” above any landings. Dedicated containers for oily rags, combustible materials, and waste or trash should be readily available and adequately maintained.
If your site is in a region prone to freezing temperatures, it’s recommended that you salt walkways in temperatures below 32° to avoid any crew members or site visitors slipping on ice or other frozen walkways.
Also, consider installing temporary lighting solutions should you need to work in low light conditions pre-dawn or into the evening.
Storing and Handling Materials
When storing materials, you should ensure that they are organized in such a way that they will not collapse, slide, or otherwise fall. Avoid stacking stored materials above five feet, and if you are using platforms, ensure that you do not overload them with stored materials.
During material handling, all workers should be clear, and you should avoid swinging loads above any workers at any time. Utilize tag lines to control loads.
When your unloading piles, long timbers, and other materials from a truck, secure the load and then remove the stakes; then, you can remove the load binders from the backside of the load.
Rig Assembly Safety Protocols
Once your transportation team has arrived, the superintendent should conduct a thorough inspection of all slings and rigging to ensure it is in proper working condition. You can then begin the process of installing your rig on firm, level ground.
Each piece of equipment, including mechanical systems, should be analyzed for signs of cracking, overstressing, or any other deterioration that can cause potentially hazardous conditions. Wire rope should be thoroughly inspected and confirmed to meet load specifications.
As workers bolt up leaders, the rig operator should inspect the crane or hoist and ensure that all controls are operating correctly. This includes clutches, brakes, swing and travel locks, and an inspection of pawls and drum ratchets.
Once you are ready to start lifting equipment, confirm that slings are utilized and tied down to prevent shifting. Tag lines provide stability and prevent loads from swinging uncontrollably while providing blocking that will allow loads to land safely.
When developing safety protocols, you may want to consult with a local vendor with first-hand experience with regional regulations. With over 50 years of experience, RPI Equipment is your trusted partner to keep every project on track.