February 25, 2013
March 17, 2013
Show all

Old tools on a wooden table

Is your renovation project safe?

We all know that construction sites can be a dangerous place to be, especially if that construction site happens to be where you’re living. And, as people, we tend to forget about the little things that help to make sure we still have ten fingers and ten toes at the end of a renovation project. Here are some useful pieces of advice for your personal safety, safety of your property and safety of the crew working on your home.

WCB

Before any contractor sets foot on your property to perform any sort of work, you need to make sure they are covered by Worker’s Compensation Board. If they don’t have insurance, send them home. You don’t want to take any risks that you could be liable if someone gets injured on your property.

Job Site Cleanliness

Go to any construction site, whether it’s a large commercial project or a small residential renovation, and you’ll see dirt and debris. It’s inevitable. However, an excessive amount of debris is a safety hazard. Tripping and falling are the number one causes of injury on a job site and this can be amplified if the work area is littered with scraps of drywall, lumber and other building materials. As a general rule, any demolition debris should be hauled away from the work area immediately and cutoffs from building materials should be tossed in the garbage or set aside neatly if they can still be used. If the demolition debris is not being put immediately into a garbage container, any sharp objects, such as old nails or screws should be removed. It would be unfortunate to take a trip to the hospital because you stepped on a screw or nail that was sticking out of a piece of lumber.

Cleanliness means that the work site should be swept or vacuumed as well, especially during renovations. When removing wall coverings, such as plaster or drywall, a lot of dust is created. As well, it’s not uncommon to discover mold and rot behind walls in rooms that are exposed to higher humidity. Materials with mold and rot should be treated and disposed of properly and immediately. At Nord Alta, we use a “clean as you go” process, to minimize any health and safety issues, as well as preventing dirt and dust from migrating to other areas of your home.

If you notice a lot of debris or dust around your work site and it concerns you, speak to your contractor and ask them to do something about it. With a good contractor, though, this shouldn’t even be an issue.

Tools

As a homeowner, you probably won’t have to worry about any safety issues while using tools, unless of course, you are involved in your own renovation project. Our advice when using tools, is, of course, the same as the manufacturer’s advice: Read the manual, wear the necessary safety equipment when operating the tool, and only use the tool for its intended purpose. Be aware that even though a lot of hand tools don’t come with an instruction manual, they can be equally as dangerous to use as power tools. As well, if you’re left handed, understand that certain tools are not made for you in mind. A perfect example would be a circular saw. When the blade of the saw binds, it has a tendency to kick outward on the blade side of the saw. If you’re using the saw in your left hand, this means that the saw will kick towards you, instead of away from you.

The problem with safety and tools usually occurs when they are left lying around in places that they shouldn’t be, or they’re left plugged in or turned on when not in use. If a tool is not be used, it should be unplugged, turned off, and put away or put somewhere where it won’t cause an accident. If you see any tools laying around, make sure to bring it up with your contractor. Even if there is very little chance of injury, there is always the chance that a dropped or stepped on tool can damage a finished product. Leaving a hammer on a hardwood floor is a great way for someone to step on it and leave a nice scratch mark in the flooring.

Ladders

Occupational Health and Safety estimates that 300 people die every year from ladder accidents and 100,000 injured themselves enough to warrant medical attention. If we read between lines, it means that a lot construction workers aren’t following proper safety protocols when using a ladder and, homeowners shouldn’t be climbing on ladders in a construction site unless there is a very good reason. If you suspect that someone is using a ladder incorrectly or if a ladder seems damaged in any way, report your concerns to the contractor. Ladder accidents are no joke.

Children and Pets

This goes without saying, but children and pets should be kept away from a construction area for obvious reasons. In my own experience, children are never an issue, but owners sometimes forget that their pets can be very clever and very persistent. Take extra special care to make sure your pets are kept away from the action and they won’t have the opportunity to get underfoot or get hurt.

Chemicals

If any strong chemicals are being used on your project, make sure that the place they are being used is well ventilated and proper protection is being used. Mild exposure to some of these chemicals could leave you with a headache or nausea, or it could make you very ill. One area to be particularly careful with is paint removal on older homes. Some older paints contain lead and lead poisoning can be life threatening. Ask your contractor before they do any work if they are going to be using any harsh chemicals, especially if you are sensitive to such irritants.

Valuables

Although this loosely fits in with our discussion of safety, it would be wrong to neglect mentioning the safety of your valuables. If there is anything in your home which you place a lot of value, whether it be financial or sentimental, you should keep it away from the work area. As much as any contractor does their best to avoid damaging anything, accidents do happen. It’s better to breathe easy knowing your valuables are safely tucked away and won’t come to any harm.

If you’re in the Greater Edmonton area and are looking for a contractor for you renovation project, visit our website at www.nordalta.com/contact.php to find information on how to contact us. We’d be happy to speak to you about what we can do to get the ball rolling on your next home or office project. You can also leave comments with us at info@nordalta.com.

Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaConstruction, on twitter at www.twitter.com/Nordalta, and on LinkedIn.

Robert Breault is the president and owner of Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Robert and Nord Alta Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaContruction and on LinkedIn.