A collaborative effort spearheaded in part by McKinstry Co. and Comfort Systems USA Northwest has published a free download designed to improve safety within the mechanical contracting industry.
“Safe and Innovative Work Best Practices for Mechanical Crafts,” includes 72 innovations and best practices for what the researchers call one of America’s most dangerous industries.
“Construction employee safety and health continues to be a concern for mechanical contractors involved in heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, piping and mechanical service,” says the introduction to the publication. “The total recordable case rate and cases with days away from work, job transfer or restriction (DART) rate per 100 full-time employees for ‘plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors’ in the State of Washington were 7.3 and 3.9, respectively, in 2016 (BLS 2018). Both rates were higher than the overall Washington construction industry rates.”
The three-year effort also includes research done by professors and students at Central Washington University and Oregon State University through a grant from the Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Grant Program, Department of Labor and Industries, State of Washington.
Although many mechanical contractors have developed and implemented their own safety practices, the report says, these are too often limited to a single project, a single fabrication shop or a single crew.
“Disseminating information about the practices and tools developed by employees to all mechanical contractors will aid in enhancing safety performance throughout the industry,” the report states.
The publication organizes the 72 practices by the following categories:
Not surprisingly, many of McKinstry’s own safety practices are front and center in the guide, although other general and specialty contractors, such as Apollo Mechanical; Charter Mechanical; Hermanson; JE Dunn Construction; MacDonald-Miller; and Shinn Mechanical Inc., are also featured.
Each of the 72 practices is broadly broken down into problems, processes and procedures involved in each.
For example, take the very first item listed in the guide, which discusses using welders in the fab shop. The main problem identified by McKinstry occurs when employees move heavy welders around the shop exposing them to strains and sprains. The task also impacts productivity since additional time is needed to move the welder from one area of the shop to another.
McKinstry decided to install the welders on a jib that swings over the work area.
“By attaching the welder leads on a swing arm (the welding machine itself is located securely on the ground), the welder can be quickly move around from one workstation to another, eliminating manual handling of the welder and employee exposure to ergonomic risk factors,” says the guide.
McKinstry also found that this setup helps keep the work area organized and free of trip hazards caused by welding leads on the ground.
To sum up, benefits of the measure include the following:
The guide can be downloaded at https://bit.ly/2MGacO5.