work safety manual

work safety manual


Saf ety is everybody’s concern, and it’s always an important consideration at any construction site. Building construction can be one of the most dangerous occupations. Since Habitat for

Humanity work crews normally have a high proportion of inexperienced people, everyone must pay particular attention to safety.

Try to be conscious of the safety of others as well as yourself.

Be cautious at all times and ask questions.

Do not go ahead with a task if you are uncertain as to how it is done or are unable to do it.

Safety is based on knowledge, skill and an attitude of care and concern. Supervisors should instruct each worker about the correct and proper procedures for performing each task and familiarize workers with the potential hazards of doing tasks and how hazards can be minimized or eliminated. It is very important that we at Habitat for Humanity know about safe work practices and follow them.

Guidelines for a Safe Attitude


These four states…





Can cause or contribute to these critical errors…

Eyes not on task

Mind not on task

Line of Fire


...which increase the risk of injury.


Think before you do your work or task.

If you are uncertain about how to do a task, ask a supervisor.

Concentrate on your task and eliminate distractions.

Know where the first-aid kit is located and how to get emergency help.

Know where the fire extinguisher is located.

Inspect all power tools, hand tools, ladders and scaffolding daily.

Advise your supervisor immediately of any unsafe conditions or hazards.

Safety Equipment


Wear clothes and gloves that are appropriate for the work and weather conditions. Loose clothing is dangerous around power tools and machinery such as a fork lift. It is advisable not to wear any rings or jewelry that can be caught in tools.

Wear closed-toe shoes at all times when on a construction site or at the ReStore. Workers wearing sandals or other types of inappropriate footwear shall not be permitted to remain at a construction site or at the ReStore.

Workers must wear protective glasses any time they are operating power tools or when instructed by a supervisor.

Each worker must wear a dust mask when installing insulation, sanding or when instructed by a supervisor.

Earplugs must be worn when using a power tool for a prolonged period of time or when instructed by a supervisor.

Power Tools


A power tool should not be used without proper instruction on it’s use by a qualified person.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to operate a power tool.

Never lower or carry a power tool by its cord.

Clean tools daily.

Check power tools for defective switches, cords, plugs and proper grounding. Defective tools should not be used and should either be reported to the supervisor or labeled and brought to the tool trailer for repair immediately. (Do not wait until the end of the day.)

In order to avoid electrical shock:

A three-pronged plug must be used on all extension cords.

Extension cords must not have frayed insulation or be fastened with staples, hung from nails or suspended from wires.

All movable work lights must be equipped with non-conductive guards.

Hand Tools


Always select the correct type and size of tool for your work, and be sure it is sharp and properly adjusted. Guard against using any tool if the handle is loose or in poor condition.

Dull tools are hazardous to use because excessive force must be used to make then cut.

Dirt or oil on a tool may cause it to slip and cause an injury.

Handle and carry tools with care. Keep edged and pointed tools turned downward. Carry only a few tools at one time, unless they are mounted in a special holder or carried in a tool belt.

Anyone working with a hammer at a height should wear a hammer loop or tool belt; and when not in use, the hammer should be kept in the loop or belt and not placed on a sloping surface or other precarious position.

Do not carry sharp tools in your pockets.

Do not pull nails with a wooden handled hammer. Use a nail puller bar.



 Don’t bind the blade of any saw. When cutting long panels, the blade may bind, and the sawmill will catch and kick back towards the operator. Use small wood wedges or shim shingles to spread the saw cut as you go along.

Keep the blade guard working. A spring-actuated blade guard can often become bent and won’t slide quickly, or the spring can become stretched so the return is slow. Repair any damage to the guard as soon as it happens, and never tie the guard back out of the way.

Support what you are working on properly. Never attempt to cut something that could tilt or fall and cause the saw to slip.



Inspect a ladder before you use it. Look for wear and tear, loose rungs and defects. If the ladder is unsafe, don’t use it.

Use a ladder that will reach the work. An extension ladder should reach three feet above the work level.

Move your ladder with your work. If, while you are working, both of your shoulders are extended outside the ladder, you are reaching too far.

When using an extension ladder, use the four-to-one rule: for every four feet of height, move the bottom of the ladder one foot away from the wall.

Place your ladder on solid footing. Use a shovel to level the ground. If there is danger of the ladder moving while you work, tie it down. If there is danger that the ladder will be hit, barricade it.

Never use an aluminum ladder in the vicinity of electrical lines, and never use a ladder outdoors during inclement weather or on windy days.

Carry tools and materials in proper carrying devices, and keep your hands free for climbing.

When climbing, always face the ladder.



All scaffolding which is elevated 10 feet or more must be equipped with a safety railing.

All scaffolds must be equipped with a toe board to eliminate the possibility that tools or debris will be kicked or pushed on people below.

A scaffold must be designed to support four times the weight of the workers and the materials resting on it.

Scaffolding components that are not designed to be compatible should not be mixed.

Inspect all scaffolding each day before using it. Never use damaged or defective equipment,

When erecting scaffolding, provide adequate sills for the scaffold posts, and use base plates.

Use adjusting screws, and not blocks, when on an uneven grade. Make sure you plumb and level scaffolding, and do not force end braces when constructing the scaffolding.

Many scaffolding accidents are caused by defective planking. Use only properly graded and inspected lumber for planking. Inspect planking daily for splits and knots, and remove defective or damaged planking.

Rough in Carpentry


Use caution when walking on floor joists.

Cover stair openings as soon as sub-floor is installed with suitable materials screwed to the sub floor with deck screws.

 Install a temporary 2x6 about 6” from the bottom of the first course of roof sheathing as soon as it is installed to prevent tools or personnel from sliding off the roof.

 Install a stair, ladder or ramp to provide access for persons to any break in elevation over 19”.

Stairways with 4 or more risers or which r ise more than 30” must include a handrail at 36” high from the plane of the horizontal surface.

Take precautions when climbing onto or off of the roof. This is when many roof related falls occur.

Do not step backwards on a roof. Every year, experienced roofers fall off the roof by stepping backwards off of the edge.

When standing up walls, make sure there are enough people to hold up the wall, and have bracing ready so it can be fastened as soon as possible.

Do not allow personnel to work beneath areas being roofed.

Never work on a roof alone.

Insulation and Drywall


Observe all rules and precautions specified under general, tools and ladders.

Utility knives are very sharp

—keep your hands out of the path of the blades. Always retract the blade or install guard when not in immediate use.

Fiberglass particles can be particularly harmful. When handling insulation, wear sturdy, loose, long sleeved clothing, gloves and goggles (even glasses are inadequate protection), face mask, and a hat.

If particles get on your skin, do not scratch. Shower as soon as possible.

Drywall is very heavy. Stack drywall materials so that they are stable and secure. Do not ever pull a stack away from the wall as many bones have been broken by shifting stacks.

Safety glasses and masks help prevent drywall dust from getting in your eyes and lungs, especially when working on the ceiling.

Paint, Floor & Interior Trim


Ensure ladders are in good condition.

Maintain good housekeeping in the work area.

Wear face mask protection when sanding and painting as appropriate.

 Be aware of others working in the vicinity. You don’t want to miss your mark and strike someone working in the adjacent area.

 Place ladders on solid footing and don’t leave any tools or paint on top of ladders.

 Don’t cross hands to stabilize material when using a miter saw. Have someone else hold it for you.

Assign one person to run the saw with one or more assistants as needed.



Use proper tools for the job.

Do not over lift

—place supplies close to the work area as possible, get help if needed.

Contact electric, gas, and phone companies for the location of cables prior to digging.

Cleaning the Work Site


Position building materials and supplies in carefully laid out piles to allow adequate aisles and walkways.

Clean up all rubbish and scrap materials on a daily basis. Do not permit blocks of wood, nails, bolts, empty cans, pipe, wire or other materials to accumulate on the work site, since they interfere with work, and can constitute a hazard. Pull nails from all used lumber before putting it on the scrap pile.

Keep tools and equipment that are not being used in chests, panels or tool boxes. This protects the tools and the workers.

Never leave a work site unguarded unless all tools and materials have been properly secured.

Powered Industrial Trucks


You must be trained on the use of ReStore’s equipment by staff.

General forklift safety guidelines will be gone over with you at the ReStore.

Complete a Pre-Use Inspection with staff.

Pallet Jacks


Only pallet jack operators trained by staff may operate pallet jacks.

 Do not exceed manufacturer’s load capacity rate.

Start and stop gradually.

Pull manual pallet jacks and push them when going down an incline or passing close to walls or obstacles.

If view is obstructed, use a spotter.

Never place your feet under the pallet jack.

Never use a second piece of equipment to push, pull or lift the unit.

Manual Handling/Lifting


Never bend over at the waist to lift a load.

Lift with your legs, not your back.

Do not twist, instead always position your hips and feet toward the object.

Maintain the natural curve of the neck, upper back and lower back while lifting.

Keep objects close to your body, this reduces leverage on your spine.

Push, rather than pull when possible. Pushing places your legs in a position to do the work instead of your back.

Keep materials situated from the knee level to chest level for easier lifting.

Get help on a lift that is considered too heavy or awkward.

Hand Truck Operations


Do not exceed the manufacturer’s load capacity rate.

Place the load so that it will not slip, shift or fall.

Tip the load slightly forward so that the tongue of the hand truck goes under the load, and then push the tongue all the way under the load.

If your view is obstructed, ask a spotter to assist.

Keep the centre of gravity as low as possible by placing heavier objects below the lighter ones.

Push the load so that the weight will be carried by the axle and not the handles.

Do not walk backward with the hand truck, unless going up stairs or ramps.

When going down an incline, keep the truck in front of you so you may control it.

Move hand trucks at a walking pace.

Hazardous Materials Spills


Chemicals are very common in a warehouse. If not handled or stored safely, some chemicals can cause serious injuries.

Follow the instructions on the label for those chemical products you will be using in your workplace.

Use personal protective clothing or equipment such as neoprene gloves, rubber boots, shoe covers, rubber aprons and protective eyewear when advised on the label.

To clean up a spill, be sure to read the label before beginning. Many chemicals you do NOT clean up with water but need to absorb them with sand or kitty litter.

Notify staff immediately if there is a chemical spill and they will take corrective action.

Accidents, Incidents, Emergencies


If someone is injured on the job, immediately contact your supervisor and summon any needed medical help.

Use the supplies located in the first-aid kit to stabilize the injury as much as possible until medical help arrives. Your supervisor will help with any injured worker.

Complete an incident report if you are injured or if you witnessed an injury. Incident reports are kept with the first aid kit.

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