Volunteer Safety Training

You've made an important decision to be a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Helping a family obtain a safe, decent and affordable home is a very gratifying experience. And whether you're accustomed to working in construction, have no experience at all, or fall somewhere in between, it's crucial that the work you do on the jobsite is done safely.

Video Transcript

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Habitat for Humanity International Construction Safety Orientation with Steve Thomas

[Steve Thomas speaking from supply room] We want to thank you for being a Habitat volunteer. And as fun and rewarding as it is to build a home with Habitat for Humanity, safety comes first. Build sites can be dangerous, so it's paramount to be properly trained for your work. And that's why we want to review the rules and procedures necessary for a safe and productive build.

[Habitat for Humanity logo. Music playing, words on screen, “Being safe on the job! With Steve Thomas“. Image of Steve Thomas].

[Film footage of a volunteer crew working on the wood frame of a home.] Upon arrival at the job site, you will meet with the site supervisor and the safety manager. You'll have a morning group and safety discussion at the start of the work day to review procedures specific to what you'll be working on that day. [A large group of individuals meeting before the start of the project.] Please let your house leader, the site supervisor, and the safety manager know if there are any tasks you are uncomfortable doing. These are the key go-to on-site personnel that every volunteer should know before beginning work. [Volunteers talking] If you have any questions, ask.

[Words on screen, “What to Wear”] Safety starts with what you wear to the site.You should dress comfortably but don't wear loose or baggy clothing. Wear clothing that is appropriate for the work and weather conditions. [Women in work pants and t-shirt, shoveling dirt.] Summer heat can be a hazard, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids and drink often. [hot sun, bottles of water] Heat exhaustion is triggered by excessive sweating and not drinking enough fluids. Serious cases of heat injury can lead to serious diseases like heat stroke (worker in background, drink bottle with water in foreground.] Take rest breaks. [Words on screen, “Pants and overalls should fit properly and have no cuffs. Shirts and jackets should be kept buttoned and sleeves should be buttoned or rolled up. Don't wear jewelry or watches and if possible leave purses and wallets at home.” ]

[Close up image of sturdy leather high top work book.] Shoes should be sturdy with thick soles. Wear steel-toed shoes or boots if you have them. [Hard hats hanging up on a shed door.] Hard hats are recommended anytime you are working on a job site. They are required when any overhead work is being done and when working on or near scaffolding [workers on scaffolding]. Wear gloves, especially if carrying materials or involved in cleanup activities [Women wearing work gloves] Hand protection is important and in many cases prevents cuts and blisters. [Worker using a hammer to put nails in wood while wearing work gloves.] However hand protection is not recommended when using rotation tools that can catch your glove and pull your hand Into the machinery. [Man using circular saw.]

[Man putting on dust mask] Where appropriate respiratory protection when working with insulation and in dusty areas. Respiratory protection must properly match the job tasks and your site supervisor can help you with this. [two women using sand paper and wearing hard hats and dust masks] Safety glasses or goggles are always recommended. [Man painting exterior of house while wearing hard hat and safety goggles.] Safety glasses are required when around flying debris such as sawdust. [Can using circular saw.] And if you are near metal shavings or concrete chips you need to wear a face shield as a second layer of protection. [Safety shield] Construction sites can be pretty dusty places, So if you normally wear contact lenses, you should wear glasses instead [Close up of a man wearing a hard hat, safety goggles, and ear plugs.] Corrective eyewear needs to meet safety standards as well. On the side frame of glasses look for a stamp that says Z87. [Steve Thomas on screen.] The stamp means that your glasses meet safety standards. [Woman wearing glasses and safety goggles.] If your goggles don't have the stamp, then you will need to wear safety goggles over your glasses. Hearing protection can often be required around some power equipment. [Circular saw in use with loud high pitch sound.]

[Words on screen, “Be smart before you start”. WD-40 material safety data sheet image on the screen] Material safety data sheets are available to review necessary precautions before using any products. These sheets recommend safety equipment, outline health hazards associated with the product, and explain cleanup procedures. Before you go into any work area, survey the area to identify any potential hazard. [Volunteers at job site.] There's a lot going on on the construction site, so you need to be aware of your surroundings and to what people around you are doing. Start by looking at the area at ground level and then at the area within your reach. Then finally check out what's going on over head. There may be temporary power lines and other obstructions. [Man working from a ladder.] Be aware at all times of potential objects that can fall from the roof. As we mentioned we require you to wear hard hats while framing, demolition, anytime overhead work is being performed. [Volunteers raising a framed wall.] Implement the buddy system where you keep an eye on a fellow volunteer. [Two women working together.] Don't be afraid to tell that person stop working if he or she doesn't look well. If a volunteer resists, alert the construction site supervisor. Accept your buddy’s recommendations as well if he or she suggests that you take a break. [Images of women working together.] Reflexes, balance, and upper body strength tends to weaken with age as the does the body's ability to recover. [Group meeting] But whatever your age or physical ability, don't work in heights beyond your comfort or ability. [Steve Thomas] Ask for the location of the emergency action plan and take time to review it. Every work site has a first aid kit that is clearly visible along with an emergency contact phone list. Be aware of your surroundings, especially when carrying long objects. [Man working on roof while another man walks by caring a long piece of plywood.] Note where your coworkers are and what they are doing and don't back up or move in any direction where you don't have a clear line of sight. And when you are up on a roof NEVER back up. [Men working on a roof]

If you have basic hand tools bring them. [woman using a hammer.] Hammers, tape measures carpenter pencils, tool belts, basic woodworking tools. We have a limited number of tools available, so it is a big help if you can bring some of your own. [bucket of tools] If you do bring your own tools, they must be in good condition and approved by the site supervisor to make sure they are OSHA compliant.

[Words on screen, “Don't bring handmade or modified tools. Make sure tools are sharp and properly adjusted. Make sure the handles are on in good condition and on tight.” Dull tools are hazardous to use because excessive force must be applied to make them work. [Woman using Hammer.] Hold and use your tools correctly and always handle them with care. If you do bring personal tools, make sure they are identifiable as yours. With so many people on a job site, it's easy for someone to think that your hammer or tape measure is a Habitat tool. Brightly colored tape is a good way to identify your tools and let others know they are not Habitat property. [Buckets of tools]

[Words on screen, “Using power tools Properly”] We can't overemphasize the exercise of using extreme care when using power tools. [Steve Thomas on screen] A serious injury can occur if you are not familiar with the correct procedures of operating power tools. So before you operate a power tool, make sure you understand all safety procedures involved. In general, if you use it correctly, you will use it safely. [Man using DeWalt power saw.] Don't forget to inspect the tool for defects or safety hazards before use. Also make sure what you're cutting is properly supported and your power saw is properly adjusted and tightened. [Images of people using power saws.] Inspect cords to make sure they are in good condition and keep all power cords and extensions out of walkways to prevent trip hazards.

[An electrical outlet with the words ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI] Always use outlets that are ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCIs. Or use an external GFCI at the power source. [Image of a GFCI extension cord] Ground pins need to be on all extension cords And grounded tools. [extension cord with ground pin] However, it is acceptable to use double insulated tools that were not manufactured with a ground pin [small power tool without a ground pin.] Make sure the blade is clear before starting a saw. [Close up of someone using an electric power saw to cut through plywood] A jar and a kick can occur if the saw is touching the wood when you power it on. Table saws must have guards installed and being good working condition. [Women using a table saw.] And remember never reach under material being cut [woman holding a board while a man uses the power saw to cut it.] With saws and power tools remember to always unplug them when changing or adjusting the blades, drill bits or other accessories. Under no circumstances should you bring a nail gun to a Habitat work site. Nail guns can be very dangerous when used by unskilled volunteers, so please use hammers only.

[Words on screen, “Good Housekeeping!”] Good Housekeeping refers to the overall neatness and orderliness of the building site. [Looking up through wood trusses on a job site.] A well-ordered work site is a proven component of accident prevention. So a clean job site is absolutely essential.[Woman sweeping.] Lumber or piles of trash should not be lying around. Such trip hazards can cause serious injury. Please keep track of the tools you're using and when you are done with them put them in a safe place so they don't become a trip hazard for you or for someone else. [workers hammering.] And if you see something laying around, please pick it up. If you see a nail or a screw sticking out of a board, remove it or hammer it down. [Volunteer picking up debris and putting it in a bucket.] We are responsible for the safety of ourselves and our co-workers on the job site. Work safely with either hand tools or power tools, make sure you're on firm solid ground. Do not try to work on rough piles of dirt or stacks of material that are unstable. [Close up of power tool] Always be aware of slippery conditions. [Close up of someone in work boots walking through a muddy area.] Be aware of excavated trenches or holes, gaps in the floor, steep drop-offs, or other hazards. [images of workers near deep pits] Only trained workers are allowed in or near an excavation, so stay 6 feet or more away from the edge. Holes in floors should have covers or guardrails around them and never leave a hole unattended.

[Words on screen, “Good Housekeeping prevents fires!”] In general, good housekeeping is the best way to prevent fires. [Words on screen, “Flammable and combustible materials must be stored and clearly marked. Locate fire extinguishers and learn how to operate them before the job begins. Always keep containers such as paint thinner closed when not in use. ]

[Men carrying trusses] There are usually temporary overhead power lines on a job site, so be extra careful while carrying ladders and lumber. Aluminum ladders and long-handled tools such as concrete bull floats are not allowed near overhead power lines. Damp conditions will conduct electricity causing shock and serious injury, even death, and could possibly start a fire. [Close up of someone using a push broom to push water off of a concrete foundation.] Please no smoking on a Habitat build site.

[Words on screen, “Ladder Safety.”] Ladder safety is another area that requires your attention. We often take ladders for granted, but not following guidelines can cause serious injury. [Woman carrying a ladder on a job site.] Always check the condition of a ladder before using it. If you find one that has a problem, alert your construction leader. [Images of people using ladders.] Only one person should climb the ladder at a time and there should always be a person steadying the ladder for the climber. Do not use the top two steps or the braces of the ladder. They are not intended for climbing. Ladders can only be used when fully opened and bracers fully locked. Never exceed the ladders posted load limits. The ground surface should be level and solid. If the ground surface is not level, make sure to secure the ladder base to stabilize it from accidental movement. Use the rubber pads on solid surfaces like concrete and use the swivel spikes in soil or gravel. [Close up of rubber pads.] Use the four to one rule. For every four feet in height, the ladder should be one foot out from the house. Ladders extending onto the roof should extend at least three feet past the roof. [Woman on ladder extended to the roof.] The same rule applies when working with scaffolding. [Scaffolding image] Always face a ladder when climbing up or down and always use the three points of contact rule. Two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand while climbing. [Woman climbing up a ladder.] When stepping off the top of the ladder to another walking surface be sure the upper part of the ladder is made secure to prevent accidental movement of the ladder. [man securing ladder] always keep the exit points clean and clear of debris to prevent ankle twists or tripping hazards.

[Words on screen, ”Scaffolding and roof safety”] Most Habitat for Humanity work sites use some form of scaffolding. The most common types found on our job sites are fabricated welded pump jack and bracketed scaffolding. Falls on scaffolding have become a big problem due to improper access, improper decking, unstable footing, collapse and/or missing parts. [Scaffolding images] Meet with your site supervisor for training on how to use the scaffolding at your build site. We cannot stress enough the importance of roof safety. [Women working on a roof] Falls are the most frequent and often the most serious injuries on a job site. When working on a roof, always move slowly and carefully. [Man in protective gear walking slowly and carefully on roof.] Only fall protection trained crews are allowed on roof detail. Inspect equipment before usage. [Man inspecting harness]. Trained crews always use some form of fall protection. [close up of harness.] Trained workers need to keep the roof clean and clear of loose items that could cause someone to slip like nails, shingles, tools, etc. [two men working on soffit with harnesses and safety gear.] Guardrails may be used for roof edge protection, so use caution when getting near them. [Image of guardrail.] Railings do have a 200 pound maximum force design, so do not sit or lean on them.

[Words on screen: lifting and carrying.] Lifting and carrying have simple rules but they can be easy to forget. [Work crew carrying a framed out wall.] When lifting stand close to the load, bend your knees - not your waist, and lift by straightening your legs and keeping your body as vertical as possible. Do not underestimate the weight of an item. If it feels heavy or if is too bulky to see over or around, be sure to get someone to help move it. [A pair of workers carrying a large board.] Always check for a clear walking path before you start your lift. [Men carrying a long piece of wood.] When possible, use available steps and stairs to prevent leg, ankle, foot, or back injuries.

[Steve Thomas on screen.] Remember, most of what we have discussed is just good common sense. But sometimes we forget things that are obvious. Forgetting is dangerous on a build site. Safety is number one. If you spot an unsafe situation calmly point it out. If you're not sure how to do something, just ask. And if you feel uncomfortable about how things are being done, Tell your construction leader.

Thanks for your attention and thanks for sharing your time with Habitat. We all want a safe Work project so that everyone can enjoy the finished product. A simple, decent, affordable home.

[On screen: Habitat for Humanity logo. Copyright 2013. Music fades.]

That's why the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program has designed an Online Safety Course just for Volunteers. This course is a very effective training tool for volunteers prior to volunteer day. It's easy to use, takes just 30 minutes to complete and empowers you with the safety knowledge you need to be an effective part of your Habitat home build. Upon completion of the online course, the Habitat affiliate you are volunteering for will receive a certificate of completion for their records.

Click here for volunteer safety training (Online Safety Course) through Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program.

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