Safety Month 2020 - Week 3

​We are in week 3 of National Safety Month. Our HSE leadership is excited to keep the conversation going, to raise awareness, and encourage us all to live our safety culture, from our workplaces to anyplace.

CEO John Hewitt got things started the last week of May​, followed by Matrix Service VP, HSE & People Karen McDonald who shared her expertise on safety in the home​. Last week, we heard from Matrix NAC Director, HSE Tom Pechar on hand safety.​

This week, Matrix Service Director, HSE Todd Dinesen is giving us the scoop on jobsite safety. While many of these topics may seem removed from some of our everyday lives, we encounter jobsite-like conditions all the time.

Have you ever fallen off a ladder while cleaning the gutters or been hit by objects that shifted on your way home from the grocery store as you opened your trunk​? Learning from HSE practices used in the field can help eliminate these preventable — and sometimes very dangerous — incidents.


MONDAY: Fall Protection Safety​

Falls are a leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities that occur in the workplace. The construction industry experiences many of these fatalities.​​

What causes falls?
The risk for falls is virtually present in every workplace. The factors that can lead to a fall, however, vary greatly. There are many specific unsafe acts by employees as well as unsafe conditions that lead to fall incidents; falls often result from a series of contributing factors. Because of this, it is important to look at unsafe conditions as well as unsafe actions to recognize hazardous situations when working at heights.

Unsafe conditions that lead to falls:

  • Unguarded leading edges
  • Open holes
  • Improper guardrails
  • Damaged equipment
  • Slippery conditions
  • Unmarked elevation changes
  • Unsafe action that leads to falls
  • Working at heights without fall protection or fall prevention methods in place
  • Improper use of ladders
  • Leaning over guardrails

Best practices for avoiding falls:

  • ​​When possible, eliminate working at heights
  • Engineering controls such as physical barriers and guardrails
  • Using a proper fall arrest system such as a full-body harness, self-retracting lanyard, and approved anchor point with 100% tie-off
  • Proper use of ladders
  • Proper housekeeping
  • Communicating fall hazards



TUESDAY: Crane Safety​

Cranes are utilized across multiple Matrix jobsites. When used properly, overhead cranes with bridges, all-terrain cranes, and crawler cranes can all make operations easier and safer.​

​Questions to think about:

  • Is the operator qualified and authorized by the company to operate the crane? (NACB), NCCER or NCCCO. Has the operator completed the Crane and Boom Truck Operator Hands-On Assessment?
  • Does the operator have access to Matrix Crane and Rigging Program and has the operator reviewed and understand the policy?
  • Does the signal person have the qualifications and training to conduct the standard crane hand signals in communication with the crane operator?​
Best practices for safe crane operation:
  • Ensure the Crane and Rigging Program has been thoroughly reviewed by all operators and signal persons.
  • Only allow qualified and trained employees to operate and conduct crane and rigging duties on the jobsite. These employees should not only be qualified but authorized by site supervision and HSE.
  • Develop a detailed and thorough lift plan and work that plan.​



WEDNESDAY: Truck Loading and Unloading​​

The loading and unloading of trucks happen quite frequently at all our sites. Therefore, the need to take the proper steps is very important. The risk of injury or death is very high. Some of the items we unload and load weigh several thousand pounds to several tons in weight. The room for error is slim and gravity is unforgiving. Attention to detail is most important.

Things to remember:

  • Loads can shift. Many loads that arrive at the site have traveled long distances. Shifting of the load is very possible. Checking the load visually by crew and supervision is mandatory and the only way to be sure the load is safe to unload
  • The ‘Material Control Risk Checklist” is a tool that helps us remember the steps to check before the unloading process begins.
  • Make sure the JSA covers all hazards that apply to the condition of the load, and what, if any, special consideration needs to be addressed.
  • Communicate with the driver. Make sure that the truck driver is clear on what you need them to do as far as strap removal. Instruct the driver as to where they should be at all times during the loading/unloading process.
  • Clear the danger zone. Barricading the unloading/loading zone is the best way to assure there is no one in the danger zone while the process is being done. Personnel that could wander into this area are at great risk of injury or death!
  • Use the right tools/equipment. Proper equipment and rigging for each item will determine the best possible outcome. Be sure that all inspections on all equipment and rigging are done before each use.
  • Hand and body placement must be considered with every pick, every time. Using tag lines and push/pull sticks removes hand placement from the equation. Proximity awareness removes body placement from the equation.
  • Use of spotters is essential to maintain safe movement of equipment and material handling.



THURSDAY: Dropped Object Prevention​

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 dropped objects resulted in 237 fatalities and 45,940 recordable injuries. To put those numbers in perspective, 126 people were injured every day in 2017 as a result of a dropped object. 


Everyone can play an important role in Dropped Objects Prevention. Please take the time to have a meaningful discussion about the basic preventative actions each of us can take.

Before starting any task, consider the potential for falling objects:

  • Check the area for simultaneous operations (SimOps)
  • Inspect the work area for loose items and debris
  • Check equipment and structures in the work area to ensure bolts, fasteners, covers, etc. are properly secured
  • Consider the impact of current or changing weather conditions on your work (high winds, rain, etc.)
  • Assure that all personal items that may present a dropped object risk (radio, meters, tape measure, flashlight, etc.) are secured

When working from elevated platforms (fixed or temporary):

  • Use self-closing/load rated tool bags and/or containers in place to raise and lower tools and material from elevated work platforms
  • Assure barriers in place below elevated work area appropriately sized and tagged
  • Have a plan to store or stage tools when not in immediate use
  • Use snow fencing and/or equivalent barriers in place to keep tools and materials from being dropped or kicked from platforms
  • Verify that the elevated work surface/grating is secure
  • Assure that all gaps in the work surface/grating been sufficiently closed to keep your smallest tool from falling to a lower elevation


FRIDAY: Angle Grinders​

What is an Angle Grinder?
An angle grinder is a handheld power tool used for cutting, grinding, and polishing. On many Matrix projects, you will see a Matrix craftsman using an angle grinder to fabricate metal, wood, or concrete.

How does an Angle Grinder work?
An abrasive or cutting disc is mounted to a motor that rotates rapidly to perform the cutting, grinding, or polishing task. Angle grinders are most commonly powered by electricity, gas, or air and come in a variety of sizes.

Hazards Associated with Angle Grinders:
Exposed fast (>9000 RPM) rotating parts, sharp objects, kickback, fire and explosion, electrical shock, entanglement, heat exposure, noise, projectiles, and repetitive motion.