Safety requirements for individuals and team leaders

Read about general safety requirements tips for an individual volunteer or a team leader.

  1. At the very least, make sure that you and your teammates follow simple safety guidelines:

    • Don’t lean stepladders; open them fully.
    • Wear safety glasses and hard hats.
    • Secure the extension ladder at top and bottom.
    • Ensure the extension ladder extends 3 feet above the roof.
    • Use a 4-to-1 ratio for extension ladders (4 feet up to 1 foot out). With your feet touching the bottom of the ladder, your arms should extend fully at shoulder height to touch the ladder frame.
    • Don’t use the top two steps on a stepladder.
    • A 19-inch change in elevation requires a ramp or ladder. This usually means the porch or foundation on a new construction build.
  2. Be aware that on a job site, the less experienced people are watching the more experienced, whether you know it or not. Be the example others follow. Regardless of what everyone else is doing, make sure that you follow safe work practices.
  3. If you see another volunteer doing something unsafe, say something. If you see someone hammering without safety glasses, a simple reminder may make a difference. Leaning a stepladder against a structure? Remind them to open it correctly. Simply reminding them to do it safely may help them avoid an accident and shows that you care about their welfare.
  4. Look at the Safety Corner on the RV Care-A-Vanner page. There are articles on various safety topics including general safety, ladder and stairway, scaffolding and tools to name a few. There is also a good safety orientation video that everyone should watch.
  5. As a team leader, one of your responsibilities is to do a safety talk at the beginning of each workday. On OSHA.gov, under the Small Business tab, you will see Quick Links on the right-hand side. Under Web Tools you will find eTools and Safety and Health topics. Both contain a wealth of information that can be used for the Daily Safety Briefing. If you are not a team leader, feel free to approach the leader, or the construction supervisor, before the morning meeting and ask if you can do the safety talk. Most appreciate the assistance. If you are not comfortable speaking in front of the group, simply being aware of these tips can help you stay safe on the job site.
  6. Be familiar with OSHA guidelines. There is a misconception that they don’t apply to volunteers or to Habitat for Humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth! With a little effort and awareness, you can help keep your teammates safe and help affiliates avoid violations.
    • For the most commonly used standards, go to the OSHA Law and Regulations page, then the Construction tab. Don’t worry, no one is expecting you to memorize everything, but it helps to have a general knowledge of the standards and where to go if there is a question.

      • Subpart X Ladders and Stairways
      • Subpart M Fall Protection
      • Subpart L Scaffolds
      • Subpart K Electrical
      • Subpart C General Safety
  7. You can contact the RV Care-A-Vanner desk and ask them to offer any affiliate the Competent Person Safety Training. Once on-site, you can tell the affiliate/construction supervisor about the course. You can explain that once they have been through the training, they may be eligible for grant money for safety equipment. The RV Care-A-Vanner desk will be happy to provide you or the affiliate with the necessary information if you aren’t familiar with it.
  8. When the team leader is talking with the affiliate before arrival, they can mention the safety initiative and remind the affiliate that RV Care-A-Vanners are committed to following OSHA. I was a team leader for a build last spring and did just that. When we arrived, the affiliate had the proper scaffolding already in place. The construction supervisor mentioned that they typically leave off the rails, but this time they used them, simply because we asked them to.
  9. If it violates OSHA, or you feel something isn’t safe, don’t do it. If for example, the day’s work requires you to be on the roof and they don’t have fall protection, you shouldn’t be on the roof. There are several strategies you can employ, one being to simply tell them that the RV Care-A-Vanners follow OSHA, and thus we do not get on roofs without fall protection. Or a lighter approach would be to say that I or Mary would have a heart attack if fall protection wasn’t used. A third strategy goes back to number 9. When you talk to them before your arrival to find out what tasks you will be performing, remind them that the RV Care-A-Vanners follow OSHA.

 

 

Greg and Karen Harbage
Master Safety Trainer program coordinators
kharbage@habitat.org