If you have been framing long enough to understand advanced techniques or to be considering a career as a lead framer, you have probably seen enough accidents to make you aware of the importance of safety. Common sense will help guide you in knowing what is safe and what is not, but you must also be aware of the potential dangers. This information is usually acquired from the lead framer who taught you, from apprenticeship classes, and from weekly safety meetings, as well as state and federal regulations for the job site.
The safety topics presented in this chapter are not intended to be a complete list, but rather to cover the items you will come in contact with or have questions about most often.
What we wear can either help prevent accidents or help cause them. Think about what you are going to do during the day, and prepare for it. It’s a good idea to discuss personal protective equipment needed for specific tasks at your safety meetings. Keep an eye on new framers so you can detect any potential safety problems.
Hard hats are the symbol of the construction industry. Some jobs require that hard hats be worn. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that a hard hat needs to be worn if there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects.
Eye protection is required by OSHA when there is a reasonable probability of preventable injury when equipment such as a nail gun is used. Eye protection can be provided by safety glasses. Safety glasses can be found that are lightweight and also look good. They should always be worn when using power saws.
Ear protection is recommended when you are exposed to high levels of noise. High noise levels can cause hearing impairment and hearing loss, as well as physical and psychological stress. There is no cure for hearing loss caused by exposure to noise. Framers are exposed to these high levels at various times, not so much from their own work as from surrounding operations. The easiest way to protect yourself from hearing impairment is to keep disposable earplugs handy. They are easy to use and once they are in, you barely notice them.
Foot protection can be provided by a pair of leather work shoes or boots with hard soles. The boots will help protect your ankles. Steel toes provide extra protection for your toes and can be useful as support for lumber you are cutting. Rubber boots are good in wet weather and provide an extra measure to prevent electric shock.
Pants and shirts should be fit for work. If they are too loose, there is the chance they can get caught in something like a saw or a drill and pull you into the drill bit, which might throw you off a ladder. If your pants are too loose or frayed at the bottoms, they can cause you to trip and fall. Be careful with other clothing, such as belts and coats, so that they don’t hang loose and get caught.
"Oh, my aching back." Everybody has heard those words. In fact, back injuries are the most common type of injury in the workplace. Framing is liftingintensive work—so measures to prevent back injuries deserve your attention. Stretching each morning and strengthening exercises are good for your back, but more important is making sure you lift properly. (See “Proper Lifting" photo.) Make it a point to use your legs to lift, and not your back. When you are lifting walls, remind your crew to lift with their legs. When picking something up, bend your knees and keep your back straight. When carrying, keep objects close to your body, and avoid twisting and jerky motions.