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Hazard Analysis — Cuts and punctures from tools or materials
Problem:Workers that inspect and use scaffolds and ladders may face hazards from cuts and punctures from tools or materials.
Construction tasks that involve cutting, abrasive and sharp tools or materials may cut and puncture workers' body parts.
For clean cuts, the edges around these wounds are typically smooth and linear where the surrounding flesh remains unchanged. These type of cuts are usually brought together easily and knit rapidly in the healing process. For jagged cuts, the edges around these wounds are usually rough and require additional healing time.
Punctures are typically piercings or perforations through the skin (i.e. a nail from a nail gun). Depending on the object causing the puncture, the edges of the wound may be crushed. Sometimes, even the fragments of tools or materials may bury under the skin layer.
Both cuts and punctures will usually be accompanied by bleeding. For traumatic cuts or punctures, these are frequently combined with injuries to tendons, joints and bones.
Level of Risk:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2001,the incidence rate of cut and laceration cases were highest in the construction industry accounting for 35.8 per 10,000 full-time workers or 21,849 of 150,376 open-wound cases (see Graph A).
Another study observed the causes of nonfatal injury in construction workers who were seen at the George Washington University Emergency Department from 1990 to 1997. The leading cause of injury was contact with cutting or piercing objects, most often pieces of metal, razors and knives, power tools and nails. Among, 2,916 construction workers, 762 had contacted sharp objects with the highest numbers in sheetmetal and duct work accounting for 22% of injuries (see Graph B & Graph C).
Hunting K., Murawski J. and Welch L. Occupational Injuries among Construction Workers Treated at the George Washington University Emergency Department, 1990-97. CPWR Reports 2004.
Assessment of abrasive or sharp hazards should be an integral part of the site safety planning process.
To assess the likelihood of sustaining cut or puncture injuries, here is a list of general items to consider when performing construction tasks near or with sharp and cutting tools or materials:
- Are there any sharp edges or points exposed on the tools or materials?
- For certain tools, are there safety features or mechanisms in place that can be used?
- If appropriate, are there the options to remove sharp edges by machining? Such that edges of metal strip could be dressed or rolled, or edges of larger items could be grinded or sanded.
- If appropriate, are there paddings or wrappings covering or protecting the sharp edges on the tools or materials?
Regulations & Standards:
OSHA standard 1926.28, titled Personal Protective Equipment, in safety and health regulations for construction must be in place. The employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions or where this part indicates the need for using such equipment to reduce the hazards to the employees.
Regulations adopted by a state must be at least as protective as the corresponding federal standard. Work may also be subject to rules of other federal, state and local agencies. Even where there is no hazard specific standard, OSHA prohibits employers from to work in surroundings or under working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to his health or safety.
Federal OSHA Standards are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor in 26 states. There are currently 22 states and jurisdictions operating complete State plans (covering both the private sector and state and local government employees) and 5 - Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands - which cover public employees only. If you are working in one of those states or jurisdictions you should ensure that you are complying with their requirements.