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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new in the construction industry and I am starting off with basically no experience. I got a job with a contractor and he says he will work with me and show me how to do everything. I have been working with him for a few weeks now and it is becoming very clear that he does not take many, if any, safety precautions. The thing with me is that it takes a lot for me to be concerned about my safety. I generally do not follow safety precautions when doing many things, it's just the way I am.

I guess I will tell you all what type of work this is. We are building a decent size pole barn, not sure of the dimensions.

The things I am most concerned about is he is doing nothing to protect us from falls. He is very experienced and is able to balance easily on things like floor joists, rafters, etc., but I am not. He seems to expect me and the other crew member to be able to do that type stuff, but I would think that would take some time to get the hang of. He uses no safety harnesses of any kind and does not offer any to us. Also, since I am new to this, I don't know if the way he is doing things is the correct way, just with no safety equipment, or if there is a proper way to set up things so you do not have to balance on joists, rafters, etc.

This is my biggest problem. It is really hard to find any type construction job around here when you have no experience. If it was easy to find one, I would just quit. Is there any way to get him to use proper safety precautions without loosing my job? He seems to have the mentality that doing things safe take too much time. I wish it was as easy to just be able to quit and just find another job, but the current economy makes it hard to find any job.

Thanks for the help everyone!
 

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Call OSHA and anonymously discuss the hazards you feel are present that you are forced to deal with.

Your life is not worth any dollar amount per hour.

then, after you find out the information about the safety hazards, call in a second time to request the related safety brochures.

Also, a safety officer from OSHA may be able to provide an On-Job consultation if requested without the burden of being fined, if your company is seeking to play by or at leasty clost to the regulations.

Next step after that, if the employer does not want to cooperate is to actually report the unsafe working conditions.

A darned safety harness only costs around $150.00 so there is no legitimate reason to not be in compliance with the Fall Arrest requirements listed in Sub-Part M of the OSHA Regulations.

Ed
 

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Gotta disagree Ed. While job safety is of the utmost importance, this guy just started working in construction. Best advice I can give you is to discuss your concerns with your boss. There is definitely a learning curve when dealing with a worker who has never been on a job site. Your boss will need to be patient and slowly work you into the skilled tasks. Some guys take a couple of weeks to get comfortable, some a little longer. It's possible, you may never get acclimated to it as some people just weren't cut out for this line of work. It can be very tough to construct a large pole barn while wearing a safety harness. I am sure OSHA has guidelines as to how a barn is to be constructed, I am also sure, that they would never be cost effective.

You may also want to consider other simple safety concerns that you can personally take to insure your safety too. Safety glasses are very inexpensive and should be worn at all times. Work boots and gloves are also very handy.

I hope your boss will understand your concerns and address them promptly. He should know that your abilities to climb and balance will not be first rate on day one.
 

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Gotta disagree Ed. While job safety is of the utmost importance, this guy just started working in construction. Best advice I can give you is to discuss your concerns with your boss.
I took his original post to infer that he had already discussed his concern for the safety issues with his boss.

If not, then for sure speak with him about allowing you and the other employees to deploy the proper apparatus to ensure your safety.

I did not imply to Rat him out at first opportunity, if that is possibly the way it came across.

Thats why I stated to inquire anonymously at first and to just make a persoanl request for safety brochures with a follow up calll, still not pointing the finger at the contractor.

Thanks for letting me correct a possible misinterpretation of my previous advise.

Ed
 

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The things I am most concerned about is he is doing nothing to protect us from falls. He is very experienced and is able to balance easily on things like floor joists, rafters, etc., but I am not. He seems to expect me and the other crew member to be able to do that type stuff, but I would think that would take some time to get the hang of. He uses no safety harnesses of any kind and does not offer any to us. Also, since I am new to this, I don't know if the way he is doing things is the correct way, just with no safety equipment, or if there is a proper way to set up things so you do not have to balance on joists, rafters, etc.
Working up high is not for everyone. If you are uncomfortable, you might want to find something else anyway.

We erect big red iron buildings, and in many cases, fall protection is not practical, which I know lots of guys disagree with, but that is how the real world works.

Since, as you pointed out, you are really new to this, then you don't know what is right or wrong...but don't be quick to ruin this man's business because you are uncomfortable.
 

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Jay,

Even when certain Fall Arrest systems would actually be impracticle or in some cases, even more dangerous than working without a system in place, there are alternative procedures to follow to ensure safety, such as having a spotter, who's sole duty is to play look out for the man in potential peril.

Ed
 

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By the way, I continually find my guys unclipping from the lanyard, but if it is justified and there are other safety fall prevention methods already in use, I don't jump all over their case about it, but I do continually remind the foreman to make sure it doesn't get carried away with as a matter of convenience.

Ed
 

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Saftey at work should be first in mind for all construction from grounded cords to fall protection.
As mentioned,it isn't always pratical and in some cases may be more of a hinderance.
Tripping over lines,getting tangled in others lines or objects,.................
You've got to make the decision that this type of work is for you and do your best to get comfortable.

I had issues when I first started,and remember my first framing boses in Texas.
If you started looking shakey on the plates( first floor only),they would wiggle the walls so you'd learn to catch your balance.
Kind of the sink or swin approach.You caught on fast or hit the road............that was their way.

Fortunately we had a landing spot that was like soft beach sand,and nobody got hurt from their antics.

It's basically mind over matter,unless you have an eqilibrium problem.

Boy,how times have changed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies!

From what you all are saying, the way my boss is doing things is not so bad. I definitely see how using harnesses could cause some problems with what we are doing.

I guess I just need more time to get used to things. I have been getting better with the heights and am a lot more stable on ladders than when I first started. I doubt I will have problems with balancing, but it has just never been something I needed to get used too, so that is why I am having some problems now. Hopefully I can get the hang of it within a week or two.
 

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I used to work for a company in the UK that done work like pole barns but they were just normal farm barns and they had safty nets that were strung from pole to pole and covered the whole lower area of the build. They didnt need to but the cost was very minimal and if you did fall you would just hit the net and role of and get back to work. Never see anyone hit it but it was there in case. Perhaps you should sugest he invests in one.

They look just like a big fishing neat.

 

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I am new in the construction industry and I am starting off with basically no experience. I got a job with a contractor and he says he will work with me and show me how to do everything. I have been working with him for a few weeks now and it is becoming very clear that he does not take many, if any, safety precautions. The thing with me is that it takes a lot for me to be concerned about my safety. I generally do not follow safety precautions when doing many things, it's just the way I am.

I guess I will tell you all what type of work this is. We are building a decent size pole barn, not sure of the dimensions.

The things I am most concerned about is he is doing nothing to protect us from falls. He is very experienced and is able to balance easily on things like floor joists, rafters, etc., but I am not. He seems to expect me and the other crew member to be able to do that type stuff, but I would think that would take some time to get the hang of. He uses no safety harnesses of any kind and does not offer any to us. Also, since I am new to this, I don't know if the way he is doing things is the correct way, just with no safety equipment, or if there is a proper way to set up things so you do not have to balance on joists, rafters, etc.

This is my biggest problem. It is really hard to find any type construction job around here when you have no experience. If it was easy to find one, I would just quit. Is there any way to get him to use proper safety precautions without loosing my job? He seems to have the mentality that doing things safe take too much time. I wish it was as easy to just be able to quit and just find another job, but the current economy makes it hard to find any job.

Thanks for the help everyone!
Take an OSHA safety course, you can do it online, they will teach you how to be safe, your employer is to provide the safety equipment, like harness', hard hat, gloves, safety glasses, etc. you are required to provide your own boots.

If he won't buy a harness, you can get one for less than $100.

I know coonstruction jobs and jobs in general are hard to find, but if the guy is unsafe and expects you to work in an unsafe environment, you need to either protect yourself or find another job, if you fall and end up in a wheel chair, no amount of money will be enough.

Safety should always be the #1 priority.

I just gave my lead guy a raise because I get tired of telling the subs about the safety policy and no smoking, now he deals with it and was happy to get the raise.

He even busts my chops when I walk on the job without my hardhat on.:thumbsup:
 

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I like the net idea. I heard that when they were building the golden gate bridge, they installed safety nets after several men felll to their deaths. After installing the nets, not only did nobody fall, but production actually increased significantly. When you feel safe, your work will be faster and better.
 

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I'm not saying it is correct, but I believe to an extent that "if you won't do it someone else will"....I think you understand this since you're happy to just be employed. Without seeing the specific situation, it's hard to tell how dangerous an environment you're in.

Everyone is a little different. Some guys are fearless acrobats, some guys are flat footed.

We call it getting your "sea legs"...When you're not used to being at a certain height for a while it takes some time to get comfortable. If you aren't nervous about falliing IMO you're stupid!

My best advice is to do as much as you're comfortable with, and speak up if you're not....Make up for your lack of experience/fear in other ways, eventually you'll get used to it. It takes longer for some than for others, but as long as everyone is being productive tasks are given accordingly.
 
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Safety/productivity line is a very fine line to dance. Theres alot of times where following OSHA to a T is borderline impossible in the real world. We do alot of office/repair work in a factory where the union is on our backs constantly. We went through a safety meeting where they demanded anytime our feet were 4 feet off the ground we were tied off to an anchor point. Thats nonsense imo. If im hanging a suspended cieling you want me to tie off? Not gonna happen. If im on a roof 30 feet off the ground yeah then its a good idea. No matter how safe you think your being all it takes is one slip to end it. Turn around step on an air hose, slip on a lose piece of felt, stuff like that happens. Its a decision that really only you can make and dont let anyone make it for you.
 

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I went through the exact same thing when I first started in construction. I was always thinking "Umm, this can't be right, or even legal", turns out I was right.

My advice is this; if you're just starting out, don't work for a small builder, find a large company to work for. Small builders are more likely to ignore safety precautions, mainly safety harnesses and railings. Larger companies will most likely follow the rules, I think because if they don't then they will be fined to death.

And if you are a rookie, you are more prone to getting in an accident. You don't want to start out your career with a life long crippling injury. When I was brand new, I fell off a wall and sprained an ankle, I felt it for about ten years afterwards, and I considered myself lucky, could have been much worse.

Remember it's the law, "Every worker has the right to a safe workplace". If he asks you to do something dangerous, you don't have to do it.
 

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The first guy I worked for in construction was like this boss, every day was a survival course. [email protected]~+ks to working without a harness or fall arrest. All the macho crap about sea-legs etc is from the dark ages. I work up high a LOT, and I damn well clip my harness on every time. I aint falling to my death or wheelchair for your barn, buddy.
Any of my guys dont clip on, they get told to cop on and just do it, or get the boot. It may be slower, but an accident will sure eat into the allocated time for a job. I have walked off jobs I thought were unsafe, and will do so again as often as is necessary. Tell your boss you want a harness. If he doesnt like it, quit. At least you will still be able to dress yourself and go to the toilet alone, if you fall, you may not.
 

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Tell your boss you want a harness. If he doesnt like it, quit. At least you will still be able to dress yourself and go to the toilet alone, if you fall, you may not.
The problem is he's not going to know when he's required to use a safety harness and when he isn't, or how to use it. That's why I say if you're unexperienced, start out with a builder who is safe and learn the correct way to do things. He'd probably have to look for a large builder to do that, even though some small builders are safe, most the ones I've seen aren't.
 

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The funny, or not so funny part of this is, small builders usually use terms like, not cost effective or gets in the way, a lot. That is, until someone gets hurt or dies. Then there is a wake up call. Sad, truely sad that it takes someone to die to get someones attention.

OTOH, I have fall arrest equipment but don't use it. It slows me down.:whistling
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sorry I took so long to get back to you guys/gals. I don't know what to make of all this. Unfortunately my boss has been in the hospital for the last couple of weeks from some unidentified sickness. This guy is filling in for him who used to work for him years ago. He seems like he pays more attention to safety and he was able to answer some questions. He said they just don't use any fall prevention equipment just because you are constantly moving around and harnesses would be out of the question and safety nets will just be in the way. He pretty much said you have to realize you are taking huge chances doing this type of work and is only for some people. Another thing he mentioned is that since we pretty much only do agricultural buildings, the company is not required to insure us. I guess that is just how it is in Ohio. I guess one good thing is that the more experienced people have been doing the more dangerous stuff, and not forcing us to do it.

Like I said, I don't know what to make of this. Most likely I will be using this to get more experience and then find a different job. I know I am taking risks doing this type of work, and I am fine with that. I know, many people probably think I am dumb, but it's just the way I am.

Surprisingly, this is not a smaller company as far as I know. They have been around for a long time and do work all over the country. I know this is not a huge company, but it is not just some small family owned place.
 
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