What’s wrong with this road construction site? #HazardSpotting

| June 19, 2013

#HazardSpotting is a community safety initiative that helps raise awareness about dangerous workplace safety violations. Our readers submit photos, and we write a post with special guest insight from featured safety experts. This week we’re highlighting the road construction hazards in a street construction zone.

At MySafetySign, we believe hazard awareness can build safer communities. As someone once said, “it takes a village,” and #HazardSpotting is no different. For this post, we’re collaborating with another seasoned safety veteran, Wade Smith, to pick apart the plethora of road construction site hazards in a photo that one of our team members snapped while taking a lunchtime stroll.

road construction site

A recent work site in Brooklyn. Click to enlarge.

Personal protective equipment (or lack thereof)
Wade said it well: where to begin? None of the three workers are sporting three essential pieces of personal protective equipment: safety glasses, full-face shields safety glasses, full-face shields, or hard hats. Only the gentleman on right is using hearing protection. This is a recipe that would give any OSHA official high blood pressure. Wade explains: “the crew appears to be wearing work boots, but are they equipped with metatarsal protection while using the jackhammer?” If this worker’s boots aren’t reinforced, stubbing his toe could send him to the hospital.

Pedestrian safety
For the safety of both workers and pedestrians, barricades separating foot traffic and construction must be present. According to the DOT’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, “Pedestrians should be provided with a safe, convenient travel path that replicates as nearly as possible the most desirable characteristics of sidewalks or footpaths.” Wade notes, “It appears that a pedestrian is walking through the barricades, if you call traffic orange cones a physical barricade.” The four orange cones don’t provide a sufficient barrier to deter pedestrians from entering the dangerous construction zone. Also, Wade wonders whether “there are any signs informing pedestrians and vehicles that demolition is underway.” This poses a hazard to the woman on the balcony in the back-center of the photo as well. Lastly, it’s unlear if there are underground obstructions since no delineations or markers on the road or sidewalk are present. Talk about hazard spotting!

Runoff hazard
Wade also detected another issue: “It appears that the crew saw cut the road prior to jack hammering, where did the runoff go?” We can’t be sure of what precautions, if any, were taken to ensure the runoff was directed to an area that doesn’t pose a hazard. Errant runoff is yet another OSHA no-no.

Noise, air and chemical hazards
What do Bob the Builder and Fred Flintstone share in common that the workers don’t? They know jack about hammers! Just taking a quick look at this image gives us a headache; jackhammers don’t exactly operate at a whisper. Was industrial hygiene monitoring taken into consideration for decibel levels and potential dust hazards? This applies to the workers and all the folks around the site who likely had to consume a fair share of Tylenol. Not to forget, asphalt fumes don’t smell like roses; lethal chemicals such as silica could expose anyone in the area to serious health hazards.

Fellow safety enthusiasts: are there any further hazards we didn’t spot? Throw in your two cents below! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

More about #HazardSpotting
Think you’ve seen an unsafe work condition? Whether it’s construction, manufacturing, or food safety, we’ll investigate the hazard. Snap a picture and share your story with us by sending an email to the editor at Krissa (at) Smartsign.com. We’ll write a post and consult a safety expert. Did we miss anything? Comment below.

Our thanks go to Wade Smith, Health, Safety & Environmental Manager at Champion Technology Services, Inc. Wade has spent over 20 years as an Industrial Hygiene, Occupational and Industrial Safety, Environmental, and Security professional, and has coordinated numerous projects over his career.

Category: #HazardSpotting, Construction, OSHA