Each year, thousands are injured performing home maintenance tasks. These injuries range from a less concerning stubbed toe or chaffing, to something more severe, such as a broken bone, poisoning, being burnt, or being electrocuted. Some of these injuries may seem minor, but they could lead to costly lawsuits and long-term disabilities.
Home maintenance can be tricky for your crew. Being a home maintenance supervisor comes with a lot of responsibility and any minor mistake could lead to costly implications for the homeowners.
The safety of your crew needs to be your top priority. Following these two simple rules will help you put yourself and everyone on your crew in a safer position.
The danger of Asbestos exposure in home maintenance
Home maintenance tasks can sometimes be dangerous. Some tasks could expose you to risks that are not immediately visible; latent threats. One of those is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral that was used in many building materials, such as drywall, roofing, and acoustic tile, for its strength, durability, and fire-resistant properties. If asbestos-containing materials or structures are damaged or disturbed, they can release asbestos fibers into the air.
If you inhale enough of these fibers over time (which could be over a period of many years), they can cause: lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings), and asbestosis (scarring of the lungs).
If you were unaware of the presence of asbestos at your worksite, and the likelihood of the exposure wasn’t clearly communicated to you before the inception of the said project, then these are the compensation options for you, which you can use to build a case for yourself.
The following general guidelines should be followed to stay safe from asbestos exposure:
Do not cut or sand materials containing asbestos. If you are planning a home renovation that involves cutting or sanding materials that might contain asbestos, consider hiring a professional contractor. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has standards for contractors who remove asbestos from homes and buildings.
If you will be working with or around any asbestos-containing material, use local exhaust ventilation to prevent the asbestos fibers from becoming airborne and, therefore, easier to inhale or ingest.
Make sure there is adequate ventilation in and around the work area, and keep others away from the work area. If possible, wet down before drilling, sanding, or sawing any construction material that might contain asbestos to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne.
Wear disposable coveralls, goggles, and a respirator equipped with an appropriate HEPA filter when handling materials that might contain asbestos to prevent the fibers releasing into the air and get inhaled by the workers.
Respirators should conform to all relevant standard requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Always wear safety equipment
Safety is the most important of all. Never alter equipment or layout without an engineer’s approval; do not operate any equipment if you are aware of a dangerous condition. Always wear hard hats and other safety equipment provided by the homeowner.
Keep the protective guards in place
If a guard cannot be replaced, make sure the machine has been switched off and that there is no danger of it starting up again before you start work on it. Check that the machine is correctly earthed and that the plug is in good condition.
If a switchboard needs to be opened, make sure it has been switched off, and, if necessary, locked out by placing a tag on it indicating that electrical work is in progress (to prevent someone from switching it back on).
Switch off all electrical equipment at the end of each working day
Never work on live equipment and disconnect the power supply before working on electrical systems. Report all electrical hazards to your supervisor. Power tools can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.
Never remove the guards from switches or blades on power saws without first unplugging them and ensuring that they are not easy to switch back on. Also, if any part of your body comes into contact with a powered tool, such as a circular saw blade, it can cause sever harm, and you should immediately turn off the tool and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
Some important points to remember:
- Never work with power lawnmowers and weed trimmers, and such, without wearing the proper protective gear.
- Always wear a hard hat when working on ladders or scaffolds, or any time there is an overhead hazard that could cause serious injury, including falling objects.
- Wear a mouth guard and protective eye gear when using power tools, especially saws and sanders.
- Do not use a ladder or climb onto a roof if you are at risk of falling or if it is too windy.
- When working with electricity, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent personal injury or death from electrical shock.
It is important to plan and conduct home repairs, renovations, and remodeling on an organized schedule, so that proper planning can be set out even before the actual work can begin. All of the activity that is planned needs to be carried out in a safe and timely manner. Home maintenance crew members are keenly aware of the money that a homeowner is going to spend because they have to do the work anyway. If you don’t want to hurt someone or damage the property, you need to make sure all safety rules are followed.
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