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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-98-180

Safety and Health on Bridge Repair, Renovation and Demolition Projects

Chapter 3

Safety Hazard Programs, Practices, and Procedures


Construction work is often hazardous.  In addition to the lead hazards on bridge renovation and demolition sites, there are many other safety and health concerns.  The following sections point out safety hazards that are often present during bridge RR&D work.  Preventing injuries requires the establishment of safety programs, practices, and procedures for identified hazards.  These programs, practices, and procedures must also be communicated, implemented, and enforced on all company project’s to protect the safety and health of workers.

The following sections summarize the general requirements of applicable OSHA regulations for various hazards; however, the standards themselves should be referenced for more details.  In addition to OSHA regulations, publications by other authorities, such as State and local governments, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and trade associations, should be consulted to provide more comprehensive and current information regarding safe work practices for specific hazards, since many of the OSHA regulations are outdated.

Prior to the beginning of each job where unfamiliar processes, hazards, or situations are present, and periodically thereafter, a hazard analysis should be conducted by a competent person (or team thereof) to characterize the nature of the hazards likely to be encountered on the jobsite.  Project safety meetings are well-suited for the purpose of discussing likely hazards on the job.

A competent person as defined by OSHA regulation 1926.32 is "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees."  This person also has "authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate" all identified hazards.   The results of the hazard analysis should be summarized in a written site-specific safety plan as discussed in chapter 2 and appendix M.

This chapter contains information regarding many of the most common safety hazards found on  bridge renovation and demolition sites.  However, if activities such as blasting with explosives, asbestos abatement, tunneling, or confined space high hazard entries are performed, additional information and standards should be consulted.



Applicable Standards:  1926.28, 1926.52, and 1926.95 through 107

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Struck-by, Electrical, Falls

All employees must be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) as specified by OSHA regulations and as necessary to control or eliminate hazardous exposures that may cause injury or illness.  Personal protective equipment includes all clothing and other work accessories designed to create a barrier against workplace hazards.  Selection of the proper type of personal protective equipment is important for protecting employees from workplace hazards. Employees should receive training on the purpose and limitations of any prescribed equipment, and records of the training should be kept using a form similar to appendix D.

To prevent injuries and illnesses, supervisors/foremen must implement and enforce the use of personal protective equipment on all company construction projects.  Any employee who willfully refuses to use or willfully damages the prescribed personal protective equipment should be subject to the company safety enforcement policy (see chapter 2).

A.         Head Protection

Applicable Standard:  1926.100

Head injuries are caused by falling or flying objects, or by bumping the head against a fixed object.  Head protection must resist penetration and absorb the shock of a blow.  Recent standards for protective helmets are contained in ANSI Requirements for Industrial Head Protection, Z89.1-1986.  The following points should be included in a head protection program:

  • All employees and visitors should wear protective helmets while on company projects unless otherwise indicated in the site-specific safety plan.  Protective helmets are worn to protect employees and visitors from potential head injury caused from impact, falling or flying objects, or electrical shock and burns. 

  • Employees should not use paint or cleaning materials on their helmets.  Some paints and cleaning materials may damage the shell and reduce protection by physically weakening it or negating electrical resistance.

  • Helmet shells should be cleaned by dipping them in hot water containing a good detergent for at least 1 minute.  Shells can then be scrubbed and rinsed in clear hot water.  After rinsing, the shell should be carefully inspected for any signs of damage.

  • All components, shells, suspensions, headbands, sweatbands, and any other accessories should be visually inspected daily by the employee for signs of dents, cracks, penetrations, or any other damage that may reduce the protection originally provided.

  • If damage is suspected, helmets should be turned in and a new one issued.

  • Employees should never store or carry their helmets on the rear-window shelf of an automobile, since sunlight and extreme heat may adversely affect the degree of protection provided by the helmet.
B.         Hearing Protection

Applicable Standards:  1926.52, 101

During some operations it is not feasible to reduce the noise levels or duration of employee exposure to levels specified in Table D-2, Permissible Noise Exposures, of OSHA 29 CFR 1926.52.  Exposure to high noise levels can cause hearing loss or impairment.  It can also create physical and psychological stress.  There is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss.

For noise exposures above 90 decibels (A scale),  all employees must use hearing protection and must be included in a hearing conservation program (see chapter 4).   Hearing protection devices (ear plugs or muffs) must be fitted or determined individually by a competent person.  Ear muffs or plugs should be used for operations where the employee is exposed to excessive noise levels for extended periods of time.  Cotton is not an acceptable substitute for prescribed hearing protection.

Additional information on a hearing conservation program can be found in 29 CFR 1910.95 - Occupational Noise Exposure and chapter 4, section 7 of this guideline.

C.        Eye and Face Protection

Applicable Standard:  1926.102

Eye and face protection is required wherever there is a reasonable probability of preventable injury.  The design, construction, testing, and use of eye and face protection should be in accordance with ANSI Z87.1-1989, and must be in accordance with ANSI Z87.1-1968 as referenced in 29 CFR 1926.102.  Eye and face protectors must:

  • Provide adequate protection against hazards for which they are designed.

  • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions.

  • Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with movements of the wearer.

  • Be durable.

  • Be capable of being disinfected.

  • Be easily cleanable.

  • Be maintained in clean and good condition.

All employees must be provided with or be required to purchase appropriate eye and face protection equipment for any operations that present potential eye or face injury from physical, chemical, or radiation agents.  The  eye and face protection designated in the site-specific safety plan shall be worn at all times while in the construction work areas.

Employees must wear full face shields, along with safety glasses that are equipped with side shields whenever involved in grinding, chipping, or where flying particles create hazards to the eyes and face.

Safety glasses, safety goggles, or prescriptive eye wear that do not comply with at least the requirements of ANSI-Z87.1-1968 are not suitable eye protection on any company construction project.

D.        Foot Protection

Applicable Standard:  1926.96

Foot and leg injuries from falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, molten metal, hot surfaces, and wet slippery surfaces can be prevented through the use of appropriate foot guards, safety shoes, or boots and leggings.  The following safety practices should be implemented and enforced on all company projects.

  • All employees and visitors are required to wear foot protection while on the jobsite.

  • Safety footwear should meet minimum requirements and specifications in ANSI for men's Safety-Toe Footwear, Z41.1-1991, and must meet the requirements of ANSI Z41.1-1967 as referenced by 29 CFR 1910.136.

  • Safety shoes must have an impact-resistant toe.  Shoes with metatarsal guards are recommended to provide additional protection to the foot.

  • Employees engaged in asphalt paving or any other operation that exposes them to hot surfaces are required to wear heat-resistant soled shoes.

E.        Hand Protection

Applicable Standards:  1926.95, 1910.138

Gloves must be required when employees' hands are exposed to hazards such as skin permeable harmful substances, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, electrical shocks, chemical burns, thermal burns, and harmful temperature extremes.  Gloves may lessen the ergonomic hazards of many vibrating construction tools by increasing gripping abilities and insulating the hands and arms from excessive vibration.  However, improperly selected gloves can also lessen gripping abilities, and can be sources of entanglement danger in work around rotating and moving parts.

The degree to which the gloves are helpful or hazardous is dependent on the proper selection of the gloves.  The site-specific safety plan should include information regarding the appropriate gloves to be worn for various tasks, conditions, and hazards identified on each jobsite.

Wearing jewelry on the hands can present an entanglement hazard around moving equipment, and should be discouraged where such hazards exist.


Applicable Standards:  1926.500, 501, 502, 503; 1926.106


To access high and low places on jobsites, a variety of equipment may be used such as ladders, scaffolding, suspended platforms, aerial lifts, stairways, and climbing lines.  The use of these access systems often presents fall hazards.  In addition, employees may be exposed to falls while working on elevated structures, climbing onto and off of equipment, and even while walking by falling through holes or by slipping or tripping.

To protect employees when they are exposed to fall hazards, some form of fall protection must be used.   The most common forms of fall protection are guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, hole covers, and safety nets.  Any one or all of these forms of fall protection may be used on construction worksites.  The current OSHA standards also require that employees receive training regarding fall protection issues, and that the training is documented.  An alternate fall arrest program may be implemented in cases where none of the traditional methods of fall protection are feasible.

A.         Major Components of a Fall Protection Program

Personal Fall Arrest System - The three main parts of a personal fall arrest system are the body belt or harness, the lanyard/lifeline, and a suitable anchorage. Particular attention must be paid to the anchorage point(s) to ensure that they are capable of supporting 5,000 lb. (22.2 kN) or two times the maximum load on an engineered system.

Guardrail Systems - Guardrail systems consist of a toprail, midrail, and if necessary a toeboard.  Guardrail systems can be made of various materials.

Safety Nets - Safety nets need to be provided for all workplaces 25 ft (7.6 m) or more above surfaces where the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines, or safety belts is impractical.  Safety nets must extend 8 ft (2.4 m) beyond the edge of the surface where employees are exposed.  Nets shall be hung no more than 25 ft (7.6 m) below the work surface with sufficient clearance to prevent user's contact with the surfaces or structures below.  Safety nets must be impact load tested prior to commencing operations.

Training - All employees must receive training on the nature of the fall hazards at the site and on how to avoid falls.  Employees should be familiar with the use of all personal fall arrest systems and must wear the equipment when necessary.

To meet the OSHA requirements, one employer has developed a written fall protection program and implemented the following requirements to protect workers from fall hazards on bridge construction and RR&D worksites:

The requirements of all applicable OSHA regulations notwithstanding, the minimum fall protection requirements on this project shall include the following:

  1. All fall protection systems must meet the requirements of Part 1926, Subpart M.

  2. For situations where lifelines are interrupted, double lanyards are necessary to ensure that the worker is continuously protected from falling by attaching one lanyard ahead of the discontinuity prior to unhooking the trailing lanyard.

  3. Ladders or stairways are required at all points of personnel access where there is a change in elevation of 19 in (483 mm) or more, and no ramp, runway, sloped embankment, or personnel hoist is provided.  These devices must meet the requirements of Part 1926 Subpart X. Climbing on forms, falsework, or the structure to gain access to work areas is expressly prohibited.  However, it is not intended to prohibit the use of  ladders for access to work areas, provided the operation is in compliance with OSHA Part 1926 Subpart X and other relevant requirements.

  4. Where scaffolds are necessary to provide temporary access to work areas, they must be in compliance with §1926.451. Scaffolds must include a toprail, midrail, and toeboard in compliance with §1926.451, on all open sides and ends.  Personal fall arrest systems meeting the criteria of Part 1926 Subpart M are required to protect workers during installation and removal of the railings, and in situations where physical restrictions preclude installation of a standard railing.

  5. Suspended scaffolds may be used for bridge painting or other purposes only if personnel lifts, scaffolds, or other means are not practical, and only if they meet the requirements of §1926.451. Specifically, the scaffold must be secured to the suspension cables at all times.  All personnel working on a suspended scaffold must be provided fall protection by means of personal fall arrest systems, or other means meeting the criteria of Part 1926 Subpart M.

  6. Fall protection is required for open sides or ends of floors or bridge decks, and for openings in floors or bridge decks, as required in Part 1926 Subpart M. In no case shall a height of fall 6 ft (1829 mm) or greater from the side, end, or opening in a floor or bridge deck remain unprotected.

  7. All workers in approved personnel aerial lifts must use a personal fall arrest system meeting the criteria of Part 1926 Subpart M, with the lanyard attached to the boom or basket, as required by OSHA §1926.556.

  8. Because falls from structural members constitute a serious and clearly recognizable hazard, fall protection for all steel or concrete beams and other structural elements must be in place prior to erection to provide fall protection for workers involved in the initial erection and in subsequent operations until the deck forms are in place.  This fall protection shall consist of personal fall arrest systems, safety nets, or other means meeting the requirements of Part 1926 Subpart M.

    During the initial connection of structural elements, workers exposed to moving members shall be required to tie off only if they are not exposed to a greater risk from the moving member.  Initial connection is defined as that period during placement or removal of structural members when the member is supported by a crane or other lifting device.

  9. During the installation of bridge deck forms, either wood or stay-in-place (SIP) corrugated metal, all workers must be protected from falls 6 ft (1829 mm) or greater in height by means of personal fall arrest systems, safety nets, guardrail systems, or other means meeting the requirements of Part 1926 Subpart M. If the contractor can demonstrate that using one of the conventional fall protection systems described in Subpart M would create a greater safety hazard or is infeasible, i.e., impossible to construct or would prevent the performance of the required work, an alternate system may be used.  The contractor must develop and implement a written fall protection plan meeting the requirements of  §1926.502

  10. Instances in which it is impossible to provide fall protection for workers are rare.  Where an individual worker must rig the fall protection system, and it cannot be accomplished from an aerial lift or by tying-off to the existing structure, momentary exposure to a fall hazard may be unavoidable.   It is essential that adequate planning of construction procedures minimize such occurrence of unprotected exposure to fall hazards.  It is equally essential that the fall protection systems utilized actually enhance safety, rather than creating a secondary hazard.

The following table summarizes commonly encountered situations where fall protection is required, the heights at which fall protection must be provided, and the OSHA reference for that requirement.


Table 1.  Fall protection requirements in commonly encountered situations.

Height Requiring Fall Protection
OSHA Reference
(>45 in wide)
10 ft (3.0 m) 1926.451(a)(4)
(<45 in wide)
4 ft to 10 ft (1.3 - 3.0 m) 1926.451(a)(4)
Swinging scaffold (painter’s scaffold) 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.451 (I)(8); personal fall protection provided must satisfy criteria in 1926.502
Impalement hazard Any exposure 1926.20(a)(1)
Bridge decks, unprotected sides and edges 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.500(b)(1)
Bridge decks, form installation 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.500(b)(2)
Tall steel bridges 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.501(b)(1); 1926.502(c)
Form work and reinforcing steel 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.501(b)(5)
Precast concrete erection 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.501(b)(12)
Ramps, walkways, and runways 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.501(b)(7)
Aerial lifts All situations 1926.556(b)(2)(v); personal fall protection must satisfy criteria in 1926.502
Ladders Varies 1926 Subpart X
Holes and floor openings 6 ft (1.8 m) 1926.501(b)(4)
Working above dangerous equipment All situations 1926.501(b)(8)
Any situation with potential for tripping, impalement, or other severe hazard Any height 1926.20(a)(1), 1926.28(a)



Applicable Standards:  1926.400 through 449, 1910.301 through 399, 1926.550(a)(15)

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  Electrical

Electricity is a serious workplace hazard that must be respected at all times.  It is important to remember that exposure to even a little electric current can kill!  The best protection around electricity is distance--ample distance between the worker and the conductive materials.  The following safe work practices and procedures will help prevent electrical accidents on the jobsite.

A.         General Requirements

  • Employees should receive instructions on the electrical equipment they are authorized to use.

  • When handling electrical storage batteries containing acid, face shields and protective clothing such as rubber gloves and aprons must be worn.  Eyewashes (plumbed or portable) with a 15-minute supply of water should be available to immediately flush any acid coming into contact with the eyes.

  • Workers should observe and strictly obey all warning and danger signs around electrical apparatus.  They should never close a switch that has a danger tag on it signed by or placed there by someone else.

  • Untrained people must not open any electrical enclosures.  The one exception is that the door on a circuit breaker panel board may be opened to operate the switches, but other types of electrical enclosures should not be opened.

  • Extension cords or any power tools or equipment must not be used when the cords are frayed, worn out, or the wires are bare.  Defective equipment should be reported to the supervisor and turned in for repair.

  • Report all unguarded or broken light bulbs.  Do not hang lights by their cords unless the light was designed to be suspended in that manner.

B.         Lockout and Tagging of Equipment

  • Equipment or circuits that are de-energized must be rendered inoperative and have locks attached at all points where such equipment or circuits can be energized.

  • Locks must have the name of the person and the date that work is being performed.  The lock may only be removed by the person who placed it on the equipment

C.         Installation Safety Requirements

  • Live parts of electrical equipment operating at 50 volts or more must be guarded against accidental contact.

  • Entrance to rooms and other guarded locations containing exposed live parts must be marked with conspicuous warning signs forbidding unqualified persons from entering.

  • All pull boxes and breaker boxes must be labeled to indicate the equipment they switch.

  • Electric installations that exceed 600 volts and that are open to unqualified persons must be made with metal-enclosed equipment or enclosed in a vault or area controlled by a lock.  In addition, equipment must be marked with appropriate caution signs.

  • Conductors and equipment must be protected from overcurrent in accordance with their ability to safely conduct current, and the conductors must have sufficient current carrying capacity to carry the load.

  • Fuses and circuit breakers must also be located or shielded so that employees will not be burned or otherwise injured by their operation.

D.         Safety-Related Maintenance and Environmental Considerations

  • All wiring components and utilization equipment in hazardous locations must be maintained in a dust-tight, dust ignition-proof, or explosion-proof condition without loose or missing screws, gaskets, threaded connections, seals, or other impairments to a tight condition.

  • Unless identified for use in the operating environment, no conductors or equipment can be located:

    checkmark In damp or wet locations.

    checkmark Where exposed to gases, fumes, vapors, liquids, or other agents having a deteriorating effect on the conductors or equipment.

    checkmark Where exposed to excessive temperatures.

E.        Use of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters and Assured Equipment Grounding Program

To ensure electrical safety from shocks on all construction sites,  all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp receptacle outlets must be protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), or an assured equipment grounding conductor program must be established.

In an assured equipment grounding program, one or more competent persons must be designated to implement and enforce the following assured equipment grounding safety procedures at all construction jobsites.
  1. Each 120-volt extension cord, tool, piece of equipment, and receptacle needs to be inspected and tested by a designated individual:

    • Before first use.

    • Before equipment is returned to service following repairs.

    • Before equipment is used after any incident that can be reasonably suspected to have caused damage.

    • Every 3 months.

    • A continuous ground circuit.

    • The equipment conductors are connected properly.

    • There is no ground fault.

    • The cord is "heavy duty" for construction.

  2. The purpose of the inspection and testing is to ensure:
  3. Each extension cord, tool, or piece of equipment should be visually inspected by the user before each day’s use to determine signs of damage.

  4. Equipment found to be damaged or defective (frayed or damaged insulation, crushed cable, loose or missing covers or screws, and missing ground prong on plugs, etc.) must not be used until repaired.

  5. Equipment suspected to be damaged or defective should be inspected and tested prior to use.

    Expiration Date
    March 31
    June 30
    September 30
    December 31

    (Brown will be used to verify that repair is needed.)

  6. To verify inspection and testing, a piece of color coded tape may be affixed each time equipment is inspected.  Four colors of tape can be used, one for each quarter of the year.  The color coding system is as follows:

  7. Inspection tape must not be used for any other purpose.  Storage of tape should be strictly controlled by the site superintendent.

  8. Only persons designated by the site superintendent are authorized to remove inspection tape.  Unauthorized removal or defacing of inspection tape should be cause for disciplinary action.

F.        Overhead Transmission and Distribution Lines

Applicable Standards:  1926.550, various State regulations

A significant hazard on construction jobsites is the accidental contact of moving equipment with live overhead power distribution and service lines .  In general, all overhead electrical lines on a site must be re-routed or de-energized where possible, and the presence of overhead lines should be addressed in the site-specific safety plan.  When re-routing or de-energizing of the lines on an entire site is not possible, the overhead lines in close proximity to work activities should be moved or de-energized.  Eliminating the potential for overhead contact through re-routing or de-energization is always the preferable means of controlling overhead electrical hazards.

Where work must be done near live lines, the movement of all equipment such as cranes, hoists, derricks, elevators, and other equipment must be guided by an observer who can observe the clearance of the equipment from energized lines and give timely warning to equipment operators.

The minimum clearance between live lines and any jobsite equipment is 10 ft (3.0 m), and the clearance increases with increasing line voltages.


Applicable Standards:  1926.451 through 454

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Falls, Electrocutions, Struck-By Events

Use of scaffolds exposes workers to a number of different hazards.  According to OSHA, the two predominant hazards when working on scaffolds are falling from the scaffold and being struck by a falling object while working on or below a scaffold. The falls are most commonly caused by either the planking or scaffold support structures giving way, or by falling off the edges of the work platforms.  In addition to the fall hazards, workers have been electrocuted when either the scaffold structures or conductive tools and materials being used on the scaffold have come into contact with electrical sources.

In 1996 OSHA issued a revised Subpart L that includes revised safety standards for scaffolds.  These standards provide general requirements that apply to all scaffolds, additional requirements applicable to specific types of scaffolds, and training requirements for all scaffold work.  Requirements for work on aerial lifts were also included in Subpart L. 

In the OSHA standards all scaffolds are divided into two general classes:  supported scaffolds or suspension scaffolds.  A supported scaffold means "one or more platforms supported by outrigger beams, brackets, poles, legs, uprights, posts, frames, or similar rigid support."  A suspension scaffold means "one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid means from an overhead structure(s)." 

A key requirement in the OSHA standards is that scaffolds can only be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered under the supervision of a competent person.  Such activities can only be performed by experienced and trained employees selected by the competent person.  Other duties of the competent person include:

  • Determining if scaffold components from different manufacturers can be used together.

  • Determining if galvanic actions are taking place when scaffolding materials of dissimilar metals are used together.

  • Inspecting the inboard connections of outriggers to support structures before using suspension scaffolds.

  • Inspecting wire ropes on suspension scaffolds before and after every shift.

  • Evaluating how to keep suspension scaffolds from swaying.

  • Determining whether and how a safe means of access can be provided to scaffold erectors.

  • Determining when the weather is too severe to work on scaffolds.

  • Determining when and how fall protection can be provided to employees erecting and dismantling scaffolds.

  • Inspecting manila and synthetic ropes used as toprails and midrails for strength requirements as frequently as necessary.

  • Providing work skills and safety training to all employees in scaffold work.

General Requirements

The general requirements for all scaffolds are covered in 1926.451.  Guidance regarding scaffold capacities, platform construction, access, use, and fall protection are covered in this section.  There are also generic criteria for all supported and suspended scaffolds.  Some highlights of this section, including the scaffold issues most commonly cited by OSHA during inspections, include the following points:

  • Each scaffold and scaffold component must be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.

  • Each suspension rope, including connecting hardware, used on adjustable suspension scaffolds shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least six times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to that rope.

  • Scaffolds must be designed by a qualified person and shall be constructed and loaded in accordance with that design.

  • Each platform shall be fully planked or decked between the front uprights and the guardrails at the rear of the scaffold.  The front edge of all platforms shall not be more than 14 in (34.3 cm) from the face of the work, unless employees are provided some form of fall protection.  Each end of a platform, unless it is cleated or hooked, must extend over the centerline of its support at least 6 in (15.2 cm) to ensure that the platform does not slip off its support.

  • When a supported scaffold height-to-base-width ratio exceeds four to one (4:1), the scaffold must be restrained from tipping by guying, tying, bracing, or equivalent means.

  • Supported scaffold poles, legs, posts, frames, and uprights shall bear on base plates, mud sills, or other adequate firm foundation.  Footings shall be level, sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold without settling or displacement.

  • Suspension scaffold outriggers must securely support the scaffold.  Requirements for  outrigger connections to the roof or deck, counterweights, outrigger beams, wire ropes, hoists, and other suspension scaffold support devices are given in 1926.451(d).

  • When scaffold platforms are more than 2 ft (0.6 m) above or below a point of access, portable ladders, hook-on ladders, stair towers (scaffold stairways/towers), stairway-type ladders (such as ladder stands), ramps, walkways, integral prefabricated scaffold access, or direct access from another scaffold, structure, personnel hoist, or similar surface shall be used.  Crossbraces shall not be used as a means of access.

  • Safe means of access for each employee erecting or dismantling a scaffold (using the devices or methods above) must be provided, where the provision of safe access is feasible and does not present a greater hazard.  The competent person must determine the feasibility and safety of providing the various means of access.

  • Scaffolds shall not be moved horizontally while employees are on them, unless the scaffolds have been specifically designed for such movement.

  • Scaffolds shall not be erected, used, dismantled, altered, or moved such that they or any conductive material handled on them might come closer to exposed and energized power lines than 10 ft  (3.0 m) plus 4 in (10.2 cm) for each 1 kilovolt (kv) of line voltage greater than 50 kv.  For live insulated lines with less than 300 volts, the minimum distance shall be 3 ft (0.9 m).  Where possible, electrical lines should be de-energized or moved prior to the erection and use of scaffolds near the lines.

  • Ladders shall not be used on scaffolds to increase the working level height of employees.  Ladders may, under certain circumstances, be used on “large area scaffolds.”  A large area scaffold is a supported scaffold erected over substantially the entire work area.

  • Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 ft (3.0 m) above a lower level shall be protected from falling to that lower level.  Guardrail and/or personal fall arrest systems must be used as a means of fall protection.

  • To the extent feasible and safe, each employee erecting or dismantling a supported scaffold must be provided fall protection.  The competent person must determine the feasibility and safety of providing the fall protection during supported scaffold erection.  During the deployment of suspension scaffolds, fall protection must also be provided whenever employees are exposed to a fall of 6 ft (1.8 m) or more.

  • In addition to wearing hardhats, each employee on a scaffold shall be provided with additional protection from falling hand tools, debris, and other small objects through the installation of toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems, or through the erection of debris nets, catch platforms, or canopy structures that contain or deflect the falling objects.  Alternatively, employees must be kept out of areas where falling objects may strike them.

In addition to these general requirements for all types of scaffolding, there are additional safety considerations for specific scaffold types.  The following OSHA regulations reference the specific requirements for the various types of scaffolds that may be used on bridge RR&D jobsites:

1926.452 (a):  Pole scaffolds

1926.452 (b): Tube and coupler scaffolds

1926.452 (c):  Fabricated frame scaffolds

1926.452 (d):  Plasterers’, decorators’, and large area scaffolds

1926.452 (e):  Bricklayers’ square scaffolds

1926.452 (f):  Horse scaffolds 

1926.452 (g):  Form scaffolds and carpenters’ bracket scaffolds

1926.452 (h): Roof bracket scaffolds

1926.452 (I): Outrigger scaffolds    

1926.452 (j): Pump jack scaffolds

1926.452 (k): Ladder jack scaffolds

1926.452 (l): Window jack scaffolds

1926.452 ( m): Crawling boards

1926.452 (n): Step, platform, and trestle ladder scaffolds

1926.452 (o): Single-point adjustable suspension scaffolds     

1926.452 (p): Two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds

1926.452 (q): Multi-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, stonesetters’ multi-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, and masons’ multi-point adjustable suspension scaffolds

1926.452 (r): Catenary scaffolds

1926.452 (s): Float (ship) scaffolds

1926.452 (t): Interior hung scaffolds

1926.452 (u): Needle beam scaffolds

1926.452 (v): Multi-level suspended scaffolds

1926.452 (w): Mobile scaffolds

1926.452 (x): Repair bracket scaffolds

1926.452 (y): Stilts


The scaffold standard requires general training for all employees who perform work while on scaffolds.  These employees must be trained by a qualified person, and the training shall include information about the nature of the electrical hazards, fall hazards, and falling object hazards associated with working on scaffolds. 

Additional training must be provided to those employees involved in erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining, or inspecting a scaffold.  This additional training must be provided by a competent person, and shall cover the safe means for accomplishing the  tasks above.  The training must also focus on the need for access provisions and fall protection during scaffold set-up, take-down, and maintenance activities.



Applicable Standards:  1926.600 through 606, 1926.1000 through 1003

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Struck-by, caught-between, electrocutions

Many potential hazards are associated with the use of motor vehicles and mechanized equipment on construction projects.  Motor vehicles may be involved in accidents due to mechanical failures or operator errors, resulting in injuries to operators themselves or to bystanders. To minimize accidents resulting from the use of motor vehicles, the following safety procedures need to be implemented and enforced on all company projects:

  1. All equipment left unattended at night, adjacent to highways or construction areas, should have lights, reflectors, and/or barricades to identify location of the equipment.

  2. Supervisory personnel shall ensure that all machinery and equipment is inspected prior to each use to verify that it is in safe operating condition.

  3. Rated load capacities and recommended rules of operation must be conspicuously posted on all equipment at the operator's station.

  4. Wire rope must be taken out of service when one of the following conditions exist:

    • In running ropes, six random distributed broken wires in one lay or three broken wires in one strand or one lay.

    • Wear of one-third the original diameter or outside individual wires.

    • Kinking, crushing, hoist caging, heat damage, or any other damage resulting in distortion of the rope structure.

    • In standing ropes, more than two broken wires in one lay in sections beyond connections, or more than one broken wire at an end connection.

  5. A fire extinguisher of 5 BC rating or higher should be available at all operator stations.  Where ordinary combustible materials (wood, paper, plastics)  are present, an extinguisher suitable for class A fires should also be available for use.

  6. When vehicles or mobile equipment are stopped or parked, the parking brake must be set.  Equipment on inclines must have the wheels chocked as well as the parking brake set.

  7. All vehicles or combinations of vehicles must have in operable condition at least:
    • Two headlights.
    • Two taillights.
    • Brake lights.
    • Audible warning device at operator's station.
    • Seat belts properly installed.
    • Appropriate number of seats for occupants.
    • Service, parking, and emergency brake system.

    • The vehicle is equipped with an audible, functioning reverse signal alarm.

    • The vehicle is backed up only under the guidance of an observer who says that it is safe to do so.

  8. Operators should not travel in reverse with motor equipment having an obstructed rear view unless:

  9. Only those trained in the use of a specific type of machinery should be allowed to operate the machinery.  Operators of heavy equipment and trucks greater than 26,000 lbs (11,794 kg) gross vehicle weight used in traffic must have a commercial drivers license.

  10. Materials handling equipment such as scrapers, front-end loaders, dozers, and similar equipment must be provided with Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS).

  11. Accessible areas within the swing radius of cranes, backhoes, and other rotating machinery need to be barricaded to prevent employees from being struck or crushed by the rotating parts of the machinery or their loads.

  12. Employees should not ride on or in motor vehicles unless seats with seat belts are provided.



Applicable Standards:  1926.300 through 307

OSHA Focused Inspection issues:  Electrical, Struck-by, Caught-between

Tools are such a common part of construction work that it is difficult to remember that they may pose hazards.  Workers must learn to recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary to prevent injuries from those hazards.  To prevent accidents resulting from the use of hand- and power-operated hand tools, management personnel need to implement and enforce the following safe work procedures on all construction jobsites.

A.        General Requirements

  • Broken, defective, burned, or mushroomed tools should not be used. They should be reported and turned in for replacement.

  • The proper tool and equipment should be selected and used for each task. For example, a wrench should not be used as a hammer or a screwdriver as a chisel.

  • Leaving tools on scaffolds, ladders, or any overhead working surfaces is hazardous because they may fall.  Racks, bins, hooks, or other suitable storage space must be provided to permit convenient arrangement of tools.

  • Striking two hardened steel surfaces together is hazardous because pieces of metal may break off; i.e., two hammers, or a hammer and hardened steel shafts should not be struck together.

  • The practice of throwing tools from one location to another, from one employee to another, or dropping them to lower levels should be prohibited.  When it is necessary to pass tools or material under the above conditions, suitable containers and/or ropes must be used.

  • Wooden tool handles must be sound, smooth, and in good condition and securely fastened to the tool.

  • Sharp-edged or pointed tools should never be carried in employee's pockets.

  • Only non-sparking tools shall be used in locations where sources of ignition may cause a fire or explosion.

  • Tools requiring heat treating should be tempered, formed, dressed, and sharpened by workmen experienced in these operations.

  • Tools designed to accommodate guards must be equipped with such guards when in use.

  • All rotating, reciprocating or moving parts of equipment (belts, gears, shafts, flywheels, etc.) must be guarded to prevent contact by employees using such equipment.  Guarding must meet requirements set forth in ANSI B15.1-1953.

  • All hand-held power tools (e.g., circular saws, chain saws, and percussion tools) without a positive accessory holding means must be equipped with a constant pressure switch that will shut off the power when pressure is released.

  • A positive "on-off" control must be provided on the following hand-held powered tools:

    checkmark Platen sanders, grinders with wheels 2 in (5.1 cm) in diameter or less.

    checkmark Routers, planers, laminate trimmers, nibblers, shears, scroll saws, and jigsaws with blade shanks ¼ in (0.6 cm) wide or less.

  • A momentary contact "on-off" control must be provided on all hand-held powered drills, tapers, fasteners drivers, horizontal, vertical and angle grinders with wheels greater than 2 in (5.1 cm)  in diameter.

  • Besides safety hazards, the use of power tools sometimes creates potential health hazards as well. The use of jackhammer and chiseling equipment often results in silica and nuisance dust exposures that can sometimes be controlled by wetting the work surfaces.  Many times, however, the use of dust/mist respirators is required to prevent overexposures.

  • In addition to dust hazards, the hand vibration inherent in the use of some power tools may result in a restriction of bloodflow to the hands and fingers, causing numbness or tingling.  If workers consistently experience these symptoms after the use of power tools, they should contact their supervisor so that steps may be taken to prevent further harm to the nerves and blood vessels in their hands.   The use of a different tool, changes to the offending tool to reduce vibrations, and/or the use of  special gloves may be recommended to deal with the vibration problems.
B.        Electric Tools

Electric tools present several dangers to the user; the most serious is the possibility of electrocution.  The following safe work procedures for electric tools must be implemented and enforced at all company construction projects.

  • Tools must:  (1) have a three-wire cord with ground and be grounded, or (2) be double insulated, or (3) be powered by a low-voltage isolation transformer. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) must be used or the tool must be double-insulated to prevent the worker from electrical shock hazards.

  • Never remove the third prong from the plug.

  • Electric tools should be operated within their design limitations.

  • In general, gloves and safety footwear are recommended during use of electric tools.  However, gloves should not be worn when they are a potential entanglement hazard with reciprocating or rotating tools.

  • When not in use, tools should be stored in a dry place.

  • Electric tools should not be used in damp or wet locations.

  • Work areas should be well lighted.

C.        Powered Abrasive Wheel Tools

Power abrasive wheel tools present a special safety problem because they may throw off flying fragments.  The following safe work procedures for powered abrasive wheel tools need to be implemented and enforced at all company construction projects.

  • Portable grinding tools must be equipped with safety guards to protect workers from flying fragments as well as the moving wheel surface.

  • Inspecting and sound- or ring-testing abrasive wheels prior to mounting is required to ensure that they are free from cracks or defects.  Checking to ensure that the abrasive wheel RPM rating is appropriate for the tool will also help prevent wheel failures.

  • The following work rules are appropriate for using a powered grinder:

    checkmark Always use eye protection and a face shield.

    checkmark Turn off the power when not in use.

    checkmark Never clamp a hand-held grinder in a vise.

    checkmark To prevent the wheel from cracking, the user should ensure that it fits freely on the spindle.

    checkmark Grinding wheel users should never stand directly in front of the wheel during start-up because there is always a possibility that the wheel may disintegrate (explode) when accelerating to full speed.

D.        Pneumatic Tools

Pneumatic tools are powered by compressed air and include chippers, drills, hammers, and sanders.  The following safe work procedures for pneumatic tools must be implemented and enforced at all company construction projects.

  • Pneumatic tools that shoot nails, rivets, or staples and operate at pressures more than 100 lbs/in2 (7.0 kg/cm2) must be equipped with a special device to keep fasteners from being ejected unless the muzzle is pressed against the work surface.

  • Eye protection is required and face protection recommended for employees working with pneumatic tools.

  • Hearing protection is required when working with noisy tools such as jackhammers.

  • When using pneumatic tools, users should check to see that the tools are fastened securely to the hose to prevent the hose from becoming disconnected. All hoses exceeding ½ in (1.2 cm) inside diameter must have a safety device at the supply source or branch line to reduce pressure in the event of hose failure.

  • Airless spray guns that atomize paints and fluids at high pressures (1,000 lbs or more per in2) (70.3 kg/cm2) must be equipped with automatic or visual manual safety devices that will prevent pulling the trigger until the safety device is manually released.

  • Workers operating a jackhammer are required to wear safety glasses, safety footwear, and hearing protection.

  • Compressed air guns should never be pointed toward anyone.

  • A safety clip or retainer must be installed to prevent attachments from being unintentionally shot from the barrel of the tool.

E.        Liquid-Fueled Tools

Liquid-fueled tools are usually powered by gasoline.  Vapors that can burn or explode and give off dangerous exhaust gases are the most serious hazards associated with liquid-fuel tools.  The following safe work procedures for liquid-fueled tools need to be implemented and enforced at all company construction projects.

  • Gas or fuel should be handled, transported, and stored in approved flammable liquid containers.  These containers, also known as safety cans, are no more than 5 gallons (18. 9 l) in capacity and have a spring-closing lid and spout cover that will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.

  • Before refilling the tank for a fuel-powered tool, the user must shut down the engine and allow it to cool to prevent accidental ignition of hazardous vapors.

  • Effective ventilation and/or personal protective equipment is necessary when using a fuel-powered tool inside a closed area.  Fire extinguishers must be readily available in the work area.

F.        Powder-Actuated Tools

Powder-actuated tools operate like a loaded gun and should be treated with the same respect and precautions. Only assigned, qualified operators should operate powder-actuated  tools. The following safe work practices and procedures for powder-actuated tools need to be implemented and enforced at all company construction projects.

  • All powder-actuated tools must meet ANSI A10.3 requirements for design, operation, and maintenance.

  • Powder-actuated tools must never be used in an explosive or flammable atmosphere.

  • Before using a powder-actuated tool, the worker should inspect it to determine that it is clean, that all moving parts operate freely, and that the barrel is free from obstructions.

  • Never point the tool at anyone.

  • Do not load a tool unless it is to be used immediately.  Never leave a loaded tool unattended, especially where it would be available to unauthorized persons.

  • Suitable eye and face protection are essential when using a powder-actuated tool.

  • In case of misfire, the operator should hold the tool in the operating position for at least 30 s, then attempt to operate the tool for a second time.  If the tool misfires again, wait another 30 s (still holding the tool in the operating position) and then proceed to remove the explosive load from the tool in strict accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

  • If the tool develops a defect during use, it should be tagged and taken out of service immediately until it is properly repaired.

  • Warning signs should be posted within the area of operation of any powder-actuated tool.

  • Powder-actuated tool operators must be qualified and carry a card certifying this fact at all times.  Failure to comply with any or all safety procedures governing the use of powder-actuated tools will be sufficient cause for the immediate revocation of the operator's card.



Applicable Standards:  1926.150 through 159

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  Electrical

Fire on construction projects is a constant hazard that can cause loss of life, equipment and material.  To assist in preventing fires on construction projects, all personnel must comply with the following safe work practices and procedures:

A.        Fire Protection
  • Access to all available firefighting equipment must be maintained at all times.

  • Firefighting equipment must be inspected monthly and maintained in operating condition.  Defective or exhausted equipment must be replaced immediately.
  • All firefighting equipment should be conspicuously located at each jobsite.
  • One fire extinguisher, rated not less than 2A, should be provided for each 3,000 sq ft (279 m2) of the protected work area. Travel distance from any point of the protected area to the nearest fire extinguisher must not exceed 100 ft.  One 55-gallon open drum of water with two fire pails may be substituted for a fire extinguisher having a 2A rating.

  • Extinguisher and water drums exposed to freezing conditions shall be protected from freezing.

  • Employees should not remove or tamper with fire extinguishers installed on equipment or vehicles or in other locations unless authorized to do so or in case of fire.  After using a fire extinguisher, it must be recharged or replaced with another fully charged extinguisher.
  • Extinguishers must be selected based on the anticipated fire hazards.  To aid in the proper selection of fire extinguishers, the classes of fires are as follows:
  • Class A (wood, paper, trash) - use water, dry chemical, or foam extinguisher.
  • Class B (flammable liquids, gas, oil, paints, grease) - use foam, carbon dioxide, or dry chemical extinguisher.

  • Class C (electrical) - use carbon dioxide or dry chemical extinguisher.
  • Class D (combustible metals) - use dry powder extinguisher only.
B.        Fire Prevention
  • Internal combustion engine-powered equipment should be located so that exhausts are away from combustible materials.
  • Smoking is prohibited at or in the vicinity of operations that constitute a fire hazard.  Such operations must be conspicuously posted: "No Smoking or Open Flame."
  • Portable battery-powered lighting equipment must be approved for the type of hazardous locations encountered.

  • Combustible materials must be piled no higher than 20 ft (6.1 m).  Depending on the stability of the material being piled, this height may be reduced.

  • Driveways between and around combustible storage piles must be at least 15 ft (4.6 m) wide and kept free from accumulations of rubbish, equipment, or other materials.
  • Portable fire extinguishing equipment, suitable for anticipated fire hazards on the jobsite, must be provided at convenient, conspicuously accessible locations.
  • Firefighting equipment must be kept free from obstacles, equipment, materials, and debris that could delay emergency use of such equipment.  Employees should familiarize themselves with the location and use of the project's firefighting equipment.
  • All oily rags, waste, and similar combustible materials must be placed in metal containers.  The containers must be emptied on a daily basis.

  • Storage of flammable substances on equipment or vehicles should be prohibited unless such unit has adequate storage area designed for such use.
C.        Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  • Explosive liquids, such as gasoline, shall not be used as cleaning agents. 

  • Gasoline and similar combustible liquids must be stored, transported, and handled in approved and labeled containers in well-ventilated areas free from heat sources.

  • Approved wooden or metal storage cabinets must be labeled in conspicuous lettering: "Flammable-Keep Fire Away."

  • More than 60 gallons (227.1 l) of flammable or 120 gallons (454.2 l) of combustible liquids should not be stored in any one approved storage cabinet.

  • Storage of containers shall not exceed 1,100 gallons in any one pile or area.  Separate piles or groups of containers by a 5 ft (1.5 m) clearance.  Never place a pile or group within 20 ft (6.1 m) of a building.  A 12 ft (3.7 m) wide access way must be provided within 200 ft (61.0 m) of each container pile to permit approach of fire control apparatus.

  • The use of flammable liquids  and spray finishing  needs to conform to the requirements of 1926.66 and 1926.152.  Paints and reducers should be stored away from heat sources and out of the sun.  Airless spray painting apparatus should be of a type approved for hazardous  locations.  Any electrically or fuel-powered equipment used to mix, convey, and spray flammable and combustible liquids must carry an approval from a nationally recognized testing laboratory .  Pneumatically operated equipment is usually suitable for use with flammable and combustible finishes.


Applicable OSHA Standard:  1926.51


The following sanitation provisions apply to construction jobsites:

  • Employees should not be required to perform work under unsanitary conditions.  Adequate supplies of potable water shall be provided at the jobsite.  Containers used for drinking water will be clearly marked and not used for any other purpose.  Cups must not be shared by employees.

  • Outlets for non-potable water (i.e., firefighting purposes) are not to be used by employees for drinking, washing, or cooking purposes.

  • All construction projects must have an adequate number of toilets on the jobsite according to the following:
20 or less workers - 1 toilet
20 or more workers - 1 toilet seat and 1 urinal per 40 workers
200 or more workers - 1 toilet seat and 1 urinal per 50 workers
  • Handwashing facilities need to be provided in near proximity to the jobsite for employees working where lead is present.  Handwashing facilities should also be present when employees are applying paints, coatings, herbicides, and insecticides or in other operations where contaminants may be harmful to the employees.  Sinks shall have hot and cold or tepid running water, with soap and hand drying means provided.

  • On bridge renovation and demolition sites where lead is present, showers must be provided where feasible-at least one shower for each 10 employees.  Shower facilities must have hot and cold running water, with soap and towels provided.  Employees must also wash their hands before eating, drinking, and smoking on lead-contaminated bridge RR&D sites.  Where showers are provided, employees have to shower at the end of the shift.

Although portable hygiene trailers make it feasible to supply washing and shower facilities at virtually any location, alternatives to having showers on site include using other shower facilities at hotels or campgrounds, provided proper hygiene practices are followed.  Where a shower is not located on site, employees must wash their hands and face before leaving the site, and remove all lead-contaminated clothing and shoes before going to the non-site shower facility. 

Removing work clothing and shoes  protects the employees’ cars and the public’s health from lead contamination.


Applicable Standard:  1910.147

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues: Electrical, Struck-by, Caught-between

Whenever maintenance, servicing, or repairs are done to tools and machinery, there is a potential for injury from the accidental energization or movement of the equipment.  Prior to beginning any work on equipment, steps must be taken to identify the energy sources present in the equipment, and to ensure that the energy sources are neutralized. 

Hazardous energy sources fall into categories such as electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and potential (gravity, springs, etc.).  One simple control in the construction industry has been to unplug cord-connected equipment.  Vehicles and other motorized equipment can be protected from accidental starting by disconnecting the battery.  Other controls include the use of identifiable padlocks on disconnects, breaker switches, and valves.  Stored energy has the potential for release with great kinetic force and potential for injury.  A classic construction injury has occurred when a mechanic working under the raised bed of a dump truck releases the hydraulic pressure in the system and the bed falls, immediately crushing the mechanic.

Although the OSHA construction standards do not currently require a written program for the control of hazardous energy for machinery repair and maintenance, the electrical standards do have a lockout/tagout requirement for work on electrical circuits (1926.417).


Applicable Standards:  1910.146, 1926.21(b)(6)

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Struck-by, Caught-between, Electrical

Although it is not common, some bridge renovation/demolition jobsites may require employees to work in confined spaces.  A confined space means a space that:

  1. Is  large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and performed assigned work.

  2. Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry).

  3. Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Simply working in a confined space is not necessarily a hazard.  However, if certain hazardous conditions exist prior to, or are created during entry, then the confined space must be treated with utmost care.  Conditions that make a confined space especially dangerous (i.e., make it a permit-required space) are that the confined space:

  1. Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere.

  2. Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant.

  3. Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section.

  4. Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.

A hazardous atmosphere includes spaces that may expose employees to flammable gases, vapors mists, or dusts; to an oxygen deficiency (<19.5 percent) or oxygen enriched environment (>23.5 percent); to air contaminants in excess of the PEL, or to any other atmospheric condition that is an immediate danger to life and health (IDLH).  

When a permit-required space is present, the following hierarchy of controls should be used on the space:

  1. Try to avoid entry.

  2. Eliminate the hazards that make the confined space a permit-required space. Ventilation, lockout/tagout, block and bleed, and other procedures can be used to eliminate hazards. Hazard elimination must be verified by air monitoring and other test procedures.

  3. Eliminate the hazards to the point that only atmospheric hazards remain. Use the "atmospheric hazard only" procedures entry system discussed in 1910.146(c)(5).

  4. Minimize and control hazards to the fullest extent possible, and enter only after the requirements of a full permit entry have been satisfied. An example describing a full-permit entry is provided in appendix F along with a sample permit entry form.

Should steps 3 or 4 be required, employees must receive training on confined spaces so that they will acquire the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for a safe entry into the confined space.  Confined space training should be documented on a form similar to appendix D.  A sample confined space entry permit is found in appendix F.


Applicable Standards:  1926.350 through 354, 1926.62, 1926.55, 1926.1127, 1926.102 and 103

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  Electrical

Welding and cutting operations present various safety and health hazards.  On bridge renovation/demolition sites, welding and cutting operations on lead-painted surfaces often create lead fumes by "boiling off" the lead.  These lead fumes may cause lead poisoning if inhaled or ingested in excessive amounts.  Other metal fumes such as iron oxide, chromium, zinc, manganese, and cadmium may also be present during welding and cutting operations.  The health hazards created during bridge renovation/demolition work will be discussed in further detail later in chapters 4 and 5.

Safety hazards such as fire may result in fatalities, serious injuries, and/or property damage.  Therefore, in an effort to eliminate or reduce the hazards associated with welding and cutting operations, the following rules and procedures should be included and enforced in any welding safety program.

A.        General Rules and Requirements for Employees Performing Welding and Cutting

  • Only qualified welders should be authorized to do welding, heating, or cutting.

  • Inspect work areas for fire hazards and proper ventilation before welding or cutting.

  • Avoid welding or cutting sparks and hot slag.  Be alert to hot surfaces and avoid touching metal surfaces until they have cooled.
  • Place compressed gas cylinders in an upright position and secure in place to prevent dropping or falling.  Handle with extreme care and do not store near any sources of heat.
  • Remove any combustibles when welding or cutting must be done.  If removal is not feasible, cover combustibles with a noncombustible material.  When welding near any combustible material, another employee must be posted to serve as a fire watch.  Make sure this person has a fire extinguisher available and keep him/her in the area after welding/cutting is completed until all danger of fire is past.  A hot-work permit system may be used at some jobsites, such as welding in permit-required confined spaces or welding on bridges that have pipelines containing hazardous materials.

  • When working in the vicinity of welding operations, wear approved eyewear and avoid looking directly at the flash as serious flash burns could result.

  • When opening valves on tanks that have regulators installed, be sure the pressure adjustment screw is all the way out and do not stand in front of the regulator.  An internal failure could rupture the regulator and cause the adjustment screw to become a missile.

  • Primers, paints, and other coatings should be removed, where feasible, from the area to be heated and for at least 4 in (10.2 cm) on all sides.  When working with thin pieces of metal, it may be necessary to remove coatings even more than 4 in (10.2 cm) from the area to be heated

B.         Specific Rules and Requirements for Employees Performing Gas Welding and Cutting

  • When transporting, moving, and storing compressed gas cylinders, always ensure that the valve protection caps are in place and secured.
  • Secure cylinders on a cradle, slingboard, or pallet when hoisting.  Never hoist or transport the cylinders by means of magnet or choker slings.
  • Move cylinders by tilting and rolling them on their bottom edges.  Do not allow cylinders to be dropped, struck, or come into contact with other cylinders violently.
  • Secure cylinders in an upright (vertical) position when transporting by powered vehicles.

  • Do not hoist cylinders by lifting on the valve protection caps.

  • Do not use bars under valves or valve protection caps to pry cylinders loose when frozen.  Use warm, not boiling, water to thaw cylinders loose.

  • Remove regulators and secure valve protection caps prior to moving cylinders, unless cylinders are firmly secured on a special carrier intended for transport.

  • Close the cylinder valve when work is finished, when cylinders are empty, or when cylinders are moved at any time.

  • Secure compressed gas cylinders in an upright position (vertical) except when cylinders are actually being hoisted or carried.

  • Oxygen cylinders should be stored at least 20 ft (6.1 m) from other combustible materials such as acetylene.  Alternatively, oxygen and fuel gas cylinders may be separated by a 5 ft-high (1.5 m) non-combustible barrier with at least a 30-minute fire resistance rating.

C.        Specific Rules and Requirements for Employees Performing Arc Welding and Cutting

  • Use only manual electrode holders that are specifically designed for arc welding and cutting.

  • All current-carrying parts passing through the portion of the holder must be fully insulated against the maximum voltage encountered to ground.

  • All arc welding and cutting cables must be completely insulated, flexible type, and capable of handling the maximum current requirements of the work in progress.

  • Employees should report any defective equipment to their supervisor immediately and refrain from using such equipment.

  • Shield all arc welding and cutting operations, whenever feasible, by noncombustible or flameproof screens to protect employees and other persons working in the vicinity from the direct rays of the arc.

D.        General Rules for Fire Prevention

  • Welders should locate the nearest fire extinguisher in their work area in case of a fire emergency. Fire extinguishing equipment must be immediately available in the work area.

  • Never use matches or cigarette lighters to light torches.  Use only friction lighters to light torches.

  • Never strike an arc on gas cylinders.

  • Move objects to be welded, cut, or heated to a designated safe location.  If the objects cannot be readily moved, then all movable fire hazards in the vicinity must be taken to a safe place or otherwise protected.

  • Fuel lines should have flashback arresters.

  • Do not weld, cut, or heat where the application of flammable paints, or the presence of other flammable compounds, or heavy dust concentrations creates a hazard.

  • Additional employees must be assigned to guard against fire while the actual welding, cutting, or heating is being performed when the operation is such that normal fire prevention precautions are not sufficient.

  • Prior to applying heat to a drum, container, or hollow structure, provide a vent or opening to release any built-up pressure during the application of heat. 

  • Never cut, weld, or heat on drums, tanks, process lines, or containers that have contained flammable liquids until they have been purged and cleaned.


Applicable Standards:  1926.500 through 503

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Falls

Because of the potential hazards involved in floor and wall openings, the following safe work procedures need to be implemented and enforced at all company projects:

A.        General Requirements

  • All floor openings must be guarded by a standard railing and toeboards or cover.

  • Ladderway floor openings or platforms must be guarded by standard railings with toeboards on all exposed sides, except at entrance to opening, where a swinging gate allows passage through the railing.

  • Barricades for warning workers of hazards must be at least 6 ft (1.8 m) back from the edge of the hazard and 42 in (106.7 cm) high.

  • Hole covers must be strong enough to support possible loads and secured in place to prevent slipping.

  • Guard all open-sided floors or platforms 6 ft (1.8 m) or more above the adjacent floor or ground level with a toprail, midrail, and toeboard.

  • Guard all wall openings that have a drop of more than 4 ft (1.2 m), and where the bottom of the opening is less than 3 ft (0.9 m) above the working surface with a toprail, midrail, and toeboard.

  • Do not store materials within 6 ft (1.8 m) of floor openings or the roof.


Applicable Standards:  1926.650 through 652

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Struck-by, Caught-between, Falls, Electrical

Trenching and excavation work presents a serious risk to all employees.  The greatest risk is the cave-in of a trench or excavation.  Cave-in accidents are much more likely to result in worker fatalities than any other excavation-related accidents.  Other hazards include contact with buried utilities.  Because of the hazards associated with excavation work, the following safe work practices and procedures must be implemented and enforced at all company construction projects:

  • Remove or support all surface encumbrances whenever their location creates a hazard to employees.

  • Identify underground installation (e.g., sewer, utility, fuel) locations prior to opening an excavation.  Contact utility companies or owners to advise on the proposed work and ask for the locations of utility underground installations prior to opening an excavation.  Additionally, the Underground Facilities Protection Organization (UFPO) can be contacted at 1-800-962-7962 for assistance in identifying utilities in your area.

  • Protect, support, or remove underground installations, as necessary, to safeguard employees working in open excavations.

  • Structural ramps used by employees as a means of access or egress from excavations must be designed by a competent person.

  • Structural ramps for access and egress of equipment must be designed by a competent person qualified in structural design.

  • All excavations or trenches that are 4 ft (1.2 m) or more in depth must have a stairway, ladder, ramp, or other safe means of access and egress within 25 ft (7.6 m) of travel in any direction.

  • The edges of a trench or excavation must be barricaded when the excavation is not readily seen because of plant growth or some other visual barrier.

  • No employees are permitted underneath loads handled by lifting or digging equipment.

  • A warning system (e.g., barricades, signals, or stop logs) must be used when mobile equipment is operated adjacent to an excavation.

  • Testing must be conducted in excavations where oxygen-deficient atmospheres exist or could reasonably be expected to exist before employees are permitted to enter excavations greater than 4 ft (1.2 m) in depth.

  • Take adequate precautions, such as proper respiratory protection or ventilation, to prevent employee exposure to oxygen-deficient and other hazardous atmospheres. Emergency rescue equipment must be readily available where hazardous atmospheric conditions exist or may reasonably be expected to develop during work in an excavation.

  • Never work in excavations where water has accumulated or is accumulating, unless adequate precautions have been taken to protect you against the hazards posed by water accumulation.

  • A competent person must:

    checkmark Classify soil types to determine sloping and shoring needs.

    checkmark Monitor water removal equipment and operations.

    checkmark Inspect excavations subject to runoff from heavy rains.

    checkmark Conduct daily inspections of excavations.

  • A competent person must conduct inspections of excavations prior to the start of work and as necessary throughout each shift.  Inspections must also be made after every rainstorm.  Precautions must be taken before employees enter a trench of any depth that shows signs of water accumulation or wall-sloughing due to moisture.  Preventive precautions include the use of support or shield systems to prevent cave-ins, and the use of water removal pumps.

  • Trenches 5 ft (1.5 m) or more in depth must be shored or sloped back to an angle of incline required to prevent cave-ins.  The angle of incline required varies with differences in the soil type, environmental conditions of exposure, and the application of surcharge loads.  Any excavation in unstable soil may require shoring or sloping.

  • Backfilling and removal of trench boxes or supports shall progress together from the bottom of the trench.  Jacks, supports, or braces shall be released slowly, and in unstable soil, ropes shall be used to pull out the jacks and braces from above and clear of the excavation.  All personnel shall be clear of the trench.

  • Materials must be placed 2 ft (0.6 m) or more from the edge of the excavation.  Precautions must be taken to prevent such materials from falling into the excavation.


Applicable Standards:  1926.1050 through 1060

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  Falls

Stairways and ladders are a major source of injuries and fatalities among construction workers.  Because of the potential hazards involved in using stairways and ladders, the following safety practices and procedures need to be implemented and enforced at all construction projects.

A.        General Requirements

  • Ladders that project into passageways or doorways where they could be struck by personnel, moving equipment, or materials being handled must be secured to prevent accidental displacement or be protected by barricades.

  • Workers should always face the ladder and use both hands when going up and down ladders.  Materials and tools should be lowered or raised by a rope or other mechanical means.

  • Hold on to the railing on stairways.

  • The areas around the top and base of ladders must be free of tripping hazards such as loose materials, trash, and electrical cords.  The same holds true for the bottom of stairways and on stairway platforms.
B.        Ladders
  • Ladders must be capable of supporting four times the maximum intended load.
  • Ladder rungs, cleats, and steps must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced (not less than 10 in (25.4 cm) nor more than 14 in (35.6 cm)).
  • Do not tie or fasten ladders together to provide longer sections unless they are specifically designed for such use.
  • All stepladders must be equipped with a metal spreader or locking device.
  • Do not paint wooden ladders, except to stencil for identification.
  • Maintain ladders free from oil, grease, and other slipping hazards.
  • Ladders must extend at least 3 ft (0.9 m) above the upper landing surface and be secured.
  • The horizontal distance for the base of the ladder should extend 1 ft (0.3 m) for every 4 ft (1.2 m) in vertical distance.
  • Wood job-made ladders must be used at an angle so that the horizontal distance is one-eighth the working length of the ladder.
  • Do not use ladders on slippery surfaces unless they have been properly secured or provided with slip-resistant ft.
  • Do not move, shift, or extend ladder while occupied.
  • Never stand on the top step of a stepladder.
  • Ladders must be inspected by a competent person on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their performance.
  • Ladders with structural defects must be tagged with "Do Not Use" or similar language and withdrawn from service until repaired.
  • Never use a metal ladder when working on electrical equipment or near electrical equipment where contact is possible.
  • Any employee who uses a ladder or stairway must receive training by a competent person in the following areas:

    checkmark Types of fall hazards.

    checkmark Correct procedures for erecting, securing, maintaining, and disassembling fall protection systems.

    checkmark Proper construction (man-made), use, placement, and handling.

    checkmark Maximum intended load-carrying capacities.

    checkmark Requirements contained within 29 CFR 1926 Subpart X.

C.        Stairways
  • Stairways that are not permanent parts of the structure must have landings of not less than 30 in (76.2 cm) in the direction of travel.
  • A platform must be provided where doors or gates open directly on a stairway.
  • Metal pan landings and metal pan treads must be filled in with wood or other materials if they are to be used prior to being finished.
  • Maintain all parts of stairways free from hazardous projections, such as protruding nails.
  • Eliminate slippery conditions on stairways before the stairways are used to reach other levels.


Applicable Standards:  1926.250 through 252

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  Struck-by, Caught-between

Materials handling accounts for 40 percent of lost-time incidents that occur in the construction industry.  These injuries are often a result of inadequate planning, administrative, and/or engineering approaches.  Therefore, in an effort to reduce workplace injuries, the following safe work practices and procedures will need to be implemented and enforced at all construction projects.

A.        General Storage Requirements

  • Stack, rack, block, interlock, or otherwise secure all materials and supplies to prevent sliding, falling, or collapse.

  • Post the maximum safe load limits for floors within buildings and structures in a conspicuous location.  Never exceed the maximum safe load limit.

  • Keep aisles and passageways clear to provide for the free and safe movement of material handling equipment and employees.

  • Use ramps, blocking, or grading when a difference in road or working levels exists to ensure the safe movement of vehicles between the two levels.

  • Do not place material within 6 ft (1.8 m) of any hoistway or floor opening inside buildings under construction, nor within 10 ft (3.0 m) of an exterior wall that does not extend above the material being stored.

  • Stack bagged materials by stepping back the layers and cross-keying the bags at least every 10 bags high.

  • Do not store materials on scaffolds or runways in excess of supplies needed for immediate operations.

  • Remove all nails from used lumber prior to stacking.

  • Stack lumber on level and solidly supported sills.

  • Do not stack lumber higher than 20 ft (6.1 m) (16 ft (4.9 m) if handled manually).

  • Stack and block structural steel, poles, pipe, bar stock, and other cylindrical materials, unless racked, so as to prevent spreading or tilting.

  • Attach handles or holders to the load to reduce the possibility of pinching or smashing fingers. 

  • Unload materials close to the point of final use to avoid unnecessary lifting.

  • Do not stack non-compatible materials in the same pile.
B.        Manual Materials Handling
  • Employees working alone should not attempt to lift or move a load that is too heavy for one person - get help!

  • When working with materials stored in silos, hoppers, tanks, or similar storage areas, be aware that confined spaces may exist.

  • Attach handles or holders to the load to reduce the possibility of pinching or smashing fingers.

  • Wear protective gloves and clothing (i.e., aprons), if necessary, when handling loads with sharp or rough edges.

  • When pulling or prying objects, workers should be properly positioned.

  • Riding loads, slings, the ball, crane hook, or other material hoisting equipment is prohibited.

C.        Training

Employees should receive instructions on proper materials handling practices during weekly tool-box meetings so that they are aware of the following types of injuries associated with manual handling of materials:

  • Strains and sprains from lifting loads improperly, or from carrying loads that are too heavy or large.

  • Fractures and bruises caused by dropping or flying materials, or getting hands caught in pinch points.

  • Cuts and abrasions caused by falling materials that have been improperly stored, or by cutting securing devices incorrectly.

D.        Engineering Controls

Engineering controls should be used, if feasible, to redesign the job so that the lifting task becomes less hazardous.  This includes reducing the size or weight of the object lifted, changing the height of a pallet or shelf, or installing a mechanical lifting aid.  (See chapter 4)

E.        Rigging

OSHA standard 1926.251 provides guidance about the limitations and uses of slings used in conjunction with other material handling equipment for the movement of material by hoisting.  Slings covered by this standard include those made of alloy steel chain, wire rope, metal mesh, natural or synthetic fiber rope, and synthetic web (nylon, polyester, and polypropylene). Some general work practices related to rigging include:

  • Rigging equipment must be inspected prior to use on each shift and during its use to ensure that it is safe.  Defective rigging equipment shall be removed from service.

  • Rigging equipment must not be loaded in excess of its recommended safe working load. The standard provides load capacity tables for various types of slings and associated hardware.
  • Rigging equipment, when not in use, must be removed from the immediate work area.
  • Custom rigging must be marked to indicate the safe working loads and shall be proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load.

In addition to these general guidelines, the standard has specific requirements related to alloy steel chains, wire rope,  natural and synthetic rope, and synthetic webbing. Employees performing rigging work should be adequately trained in the safety and functional aspects of rigging for materials handling operations.


Applicable Standards:  1026.200 - 203; Dept. of Transportation Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Struck-by, Caught-between

The use of signs, signals, and barricades is essential to make employees aware that an immediate or potential hazard exists.  Both traffic and health hazards such as airborne lead are examples of hazards on bridge renovation/demolition sites that require signs and other devices.   The following sections discuss the primary ways that employees are made aware of hazards in their work areas.  Signs, signals, regulated areas, and barricades must be used on each construction project as appropriate.

A.        Accident Prevention Signs/Tags
  • Danger Signs are used wherever an immediate hazard (i.e., exposed electrical conductor) exists.  The danger signs must have red as the predominant color in the upper panel and a white lower panel for additional sign wording.
  • Caution Signs are used to warn against potential hazards or to caution against unsafe practices.  The caution signs must have yellow as the predominant color with a black upper panel (yellow lettering of "caution" on the upper panel) and a yellow lower panel for additional sign wording.
  • Exit Signs, when required, should be in legible red ¾-in (1.9 cm) stroke letters, not less than 6 in (15.2 cm) high, on a white field.
  • Safety Instruction Signs, when used, must be white with a green upper panel and white lettering to convey the principal message.  Any additional wording must be in black lettering on the white background.
  • Directional Signals must be white with a black panel and a white directional symbol.  Any additional wording must be in black lettering on the white background.
  • Traffic Signs must be posted at points of hazards in all construction areas.  All traffic control signs or devices must conform to the DOT MUTCD and ANSI D6.1-1971, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.

  • Accident Prevention Tags are used as a temporary means of warning employees of an existing hazard, such as defective tools, equipment, etc.

  • Out of Order Tags are used to designate equipment that requires repair or maintenance. Equipment with such a tag may not be used until the tag is removed.

Additional rules, not specifically prescribed in this section, are contained in ANSI Z35.1-1968, Specifications for Accident Prevention Signs, and Z35.2-1968, Specifications for Accident Prevention Tags.

B.        Signaling

  • Flagmen or other appropriate traffic controls must be provided for operations where signs, signals, and barricades do not provide the necessary protection on or adjacent to a highway or street.

  • Signaling directions must conform to DOT Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and ANSI D6.1-1971, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.

  • Stop/Slow sign paddles must be used by flagmen when hand signaling.  Red flags, at least 18 in (45.7 cm) square, may be temporarily used in traffic control.

  • Flagmen are required to wear a red or orange reflective warning vest and a hard hat while flagging.

  • Required signs and symbols must be visible at all times when work is being done, and removed or covered promptly when the hazard no longer exists.
C.        Cones, Barrels, Barricades, and Barriers
  • Channelizing devices such as cones, barrels, or barricades are required for jobsite roadways presenting a hazard to motorized equipment or vehicles.  Barriers may also provide a greater degree of work zone protection.  Consult traffic control resources such as the DOT MUTCD for guidance on establishing and working in road construction work zones.

  • Channelizing devices must conform to sections in the DOT MUTCD and ANSI D6.1-1971.
D.        Regulated Work Areas
  • In and adjacent to areas where overexposures to the lead PEL exist, warning signs informing employees and visitors of the lead hazards must be posted.  The signs should read:






Applicable Standards:  1926.550 - 556

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Struck-by, Electrical, Falls

Accidents involving cranes often are caused by human actions or inaction.  Therefore, each company must employ competent and careful operators who are physically and mentally fit and thoroughly trained in the safe operation of crane and rigging equipment and the safe handling of loads.  Upon employment, the crane operator should be initially assigned to work with the crane and rigging foreman only on selected work, and he/she should be monitored closely for a period of not less than 1 week.

A.        General Requirements

The target goal of a crane safety program is zero crane accidents.  To achieve this goal, the following safe work procedures must be implemented and enforced at all company projects:

  • Crane operators are required to comply with crane manufacturer's specifications and limitations applicable to the operation of any and all cranes, derricks, and hoists.

  • Rated load limits and recommended operating speeds, special hazard warnings, or instructions must be posted on all equipment.

  • Hand signals to crane and derrick operators must conform with the applicable ANSI standard for the type of crane being used.

  • A competent person who is knowledgeable in proper crane setup and operation activities must inspect all machinery and equipment prior to each use, and during use, to ensure it is in safe operating condition.

  • Any defective parts must be repaired or replaced before use.

  • A competent person who is knowledgeable in crane inspection techniques must perform an annual inspection of the hoisting machinery and provide a copy of the dates and results of inspections for each hoisting machine and piece of equipment to the site superintendent.

  • All moving parts or equipment (belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, fly wheel, etc.) must be guarded to prevent contact by employees.

  • Accessible areas within the swing radius of the rotating superstructure of the crane must be barricaded to prevent an employee from being struck or crushed by the crane.

  • Exhaust pipes must be guarded or insulated to prevent contact by employees.

  • Windows in cabs must be of safety glass, or equivalent, that introduces no visible distortions.

  • Where necessary, a ladder or steps must be provided to allow access to a cab roof.

  • Platforms and walkways must have anti-skid surfaces.

  • A fire extinguisher of 5BC rating must be accessible at all operator stations or cabs of equipment.No part of a crane or load is permitted within 10 ft (3.0 m) of electric power lines, except where electrical distribution and transmission lines have been de-energized and visibly grounded.  A person will be designated to observe clearance of the equipment and provide timely warning to the crane operator.

  • No employee is permitted to work beneath a suspended load.
B.        Site Superintendent Responsibilities

As part of a crane safety program, site superintendents are required to:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the client's requirements for operating construction cranes, derricks, or hoists on project property.

  • Conduct a detailed crane standards review meeting with supervisory staff members.

  • Provide a copy of company crane and rigging procedures to supervisory personnel, crane operators, and riggers.

  • Interview prospective crane operators prior to site employment to ascertain competence and qualifications.

  • Check the prospective crane operator's past experience with previous employers, if possible.

  • Ensure that the crane operator meets Interstate Commerce Commission physical requirements.  Place only those applicants who have passed the medical examination in crane operations.

  • Conduct daily inspections to observe compliance with established company and client crane and rigging procedures.

  • Immediately shut down any crane operations that jeopardize the safety of any jobsite personnel.

  • Immediately notify the corporate safety director of any crane or rigging accidents and operational problems that are not resolved by the operator and site supervisor.

  • Ensure that crane equipment rental companies furnish:

    checkmark Current "Crane Hook Magna Flux Certificate" authorized by a certified testing laboratory, manufacturer, or metallurgist.

    checkmark Copy of last annual inspection of crane as required by OSHA.

    checkmark Results of crane operator's physical examination (if crane operator is to be furnished by rental company).

    checkmark Load diagrams for the crane.

C.        Crane or Derrick Suspended Personnel Platforms

During some bridge work, crane or derrick suspended personnel platforms may be used to provide access to parts of the bridge structure when no other means of access is feasible. The safe use of suspended platforms requires the use of specially designed platforms, appropriate cranes and rigging, and properly trained crane operators and platform users.  The requirements governing platforms, cranes, and proper work practices related to suspended personnel platforms found in 1926.550 (g) must be implemented.


Because people are being lifted by the crane on the platform, stringent crane and rigging criteria are required to ensure the safety of the suspended platform occupants.

  • Load line wire ropes must be capable of supporting over 10 times the maximum intended load.

  • The total weight of the fully loaded personnel platform must not exceed 50 percent of the rated capacity for a given radius and boom angle.

  • Cranes must be equipped with boom angle indicators, boom length indicators, and anti-two-block devices.

  • The load line hoist drum must have a system or device on the powertrain, other than the load hoist brake, which regulates the lowering rate of speed of the hoist mechanism.

  • The crane must be uniformly level within 1 percent of level grade, and outriggers must be fully extended.


The suspended personnel platforms are designed specifically for hoisting employees, tools, and the materials necessary to perform the work.  They should not be used for any other purposes.  Platforms must be equipped with:

  • Standard guardrails and toeboards with the space between the toeboard and midrail enclosed.

  • Safety lanyard anchor points.

  • Grab rails around the perimeter of the platform.

  • Adequate headroom and overhead protection as necessary.

  • A plate or marking that clearly indicates the weight of the platform and its rated load capacity.

Work Practices

A variety of work practices must be employed during the use of suspended personnel platforms to ensure the safety of the occupants:

  • Prior to the use of a platform, a trial lift must be conducted on an unoccupied platform loaded to the anticipated maximum load weight.  A competent person who is familiar with the issues regarding crane safety and suspended personnel platforms should conduct the trial lift.

  • All parts of the body should be kept inside the platform structure during lifts.

  • Where possible, the platform must be secured to the work structure before starting work.

  • Following the lift, the crane operator must engage load and boom hoist drum brakes, swing brakes, and locking devices such as pawls or dogs when the platform is in a stationary working position.

  • The crane operator must stay at the controls at all times when the crane engine is running and the platform is occupied.  Some form of communication (visual, radio, signal person) must be employed at all times.

  • All occupants of the platform must use a body harness and lanyard attached to a suitable anchor point.

  • Prior to all lifts when the crane has been initially set or moved to a new location, all participants (crane operators, platform users, signal personnel) must have pre-lift meeting to ensure that the proper platform lifting procedures are followed.


Applicable OSHA standards:  1926.850 - 860

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Falls, Struck-by, Caught-between, Electrical

A.        Preparatory Operations
  • Prior to starting demolition operations, an engineering survey must be performed by a competent person to determine the condition of the framing, floors, and walls.  In some jurisdictions, the competent person must be a professional engineer.

  • All electric, gas, water, steam, sewer, and other service lines must be shut off, capped, or otherwise controlled.

  • If hazardous chemicals, gases, explosives, flammable materials, or similarly dangerous substances have been used in pipes, tanks, or other equipment on the property, testing and purging must be performed to eliminate the hazard prior to demolition.
B.        Stairs, Passageways, and Ladders
  • Only use stairways, passageways, and ladders designated as means of access to the structure of a building.

  • Stairs, passageways, ladders, and incidental equipment must be periodically inspected and maintained in a clean and safe condition.

  • Stairwells must be properly illuminated and completely and substantially covered over at a point not less than two floors below the floor on which work is being performed.
C.        Mechanical Demolition
  • Employees should never enter any area that may be adversely affected by demolition operations when balling or clamming is being performed, unless they are needed to perform these operations.

  • During demolition, a competent person must make continued inspections as the work progresses to detect hazards resulting from weakened or deteriorated floors, or walls, or loosened material


Applicable OSHA Standards:  1926.26, 1926.56, 1926.404, 1926.405

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  Electrical

The proper illumination of bridge renovation/demolition worksites sometimes requires special types of lighting equipment and wiring.   Within blasting containment enclosures, visibility may be severely limited and  artificial lighting is often a necessity.  Containment enclosures should be designed to eliminate lighting blind spots.  In addition, if organic abrasive blasting materials are used, the lighting used in the enclosure must be approved for Class 2, Division 1 locations.

Portable lighting used in wet and other conductive locations can be a possible shock hazard should conductors become damaged and wet.  Therefore, all 120-volt lighting fixtures on construction jobsites must be protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).  Alternatively, 12-volt DC systems may be used for lighting.

Within 20 ft (6.1 m) horizontally, and 10 ft (3.0 m) vertically, of painting operations with flammable and combustible coatings, all portable lighting equipment must be suitable for hazardous locations. 

Construction areas, aisles, stairs, ramps, runways, corridors, offices, shops, and storage areas where work is in progress shall be lighted to at least the following levels with either natural or artificial illumination:

General construction areas
General construction plants and shops
5 ft candles (53.8 lux)
5 ft candles (53.8 lux)
10 ft candles (107.6 lux)

Where work requires exacting detail and visual acuity, these requirements shall be treated only as the absolute minimum and increasing foot candle illumination should be provided. Illumination throughout the jobsite should be inspected periodically for adequacy.


Applicable OSHA Standard:  1910.25

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue:  NONE

A policy of trash removal and the maintenance of good housekeeping practices should be implemented on all jobsites.  The accumulation of construction debris may pose a significant fire hazard in addition to tripping and falling hazards. 

Good housekeeping practices are the result of planning and organization.  The general contractor and all subcontractors on the site must work together to maintain a clean worksite.  The prompt removal of waste materials will permit a free flow of traffic through the work areas.  Daily or more frequent inspections shall be conducted by the general contractor to verify that the housekeeping controls are in place and being enforced.

Fires can be prevented by limiting “stacks” of combustible materials and never storing incompatible materials together.

Housekeeping activities in themselves may pose health hazards such as exposures to dusts, biological agents, and discarded chemicals.  Liquid and solid waste chemicals must be placed in leak-proof containers for proper disposal.

Some of the bridge structures involved in renovation and demolition activities may be contaminated with bird droppings.  In addition to being an unpleasant and unsightly mess, the droppings can harbor disease-causing organisms.  Before working in areas fouled with bird droppings, the areas should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water using high-pressure spray methods.

Cleaning up lead-contaminated equipment, materials, and wastes often creates the potential for excessive lead exposures.  Therefore, before performing housekeeping duties on a jobsite where there is lead contamination, employees should be trained in the use of special housekeeping and clean-up procedures such as the use of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum systems and wet methods of cleanup to minimize dust exposures.  Lead-contaminated dirt and debris must be properly disposed of according to applicable environmental regulations.


Applicable OSHA Standards:  1926.1071 through 1092

OSHA Focused Inspection Issue(s):  NONE

Construction work on bridges may involve the use of diving operations.  The standards listed above contain specific guidelines for safely conducting diving operations for the most common modes of diving such as scuba, surface-supplied air, and mixed gas diving.  Diving at depths or under conditions that require decompression  involve substantial planning and oversight to avoid illnesses due to narcosis.

Prior to conducting all diving operations, the company must assemble a qualified dive team, suitable equipment, and develop a safe diving practices manual.  In addition, specific procedures must be followed before, during, and after each dive.  Records of any injuries sustained in diving operations must also be maintained.  The following sections briefly summarize some main points addressed in conducting safe diving operations.

A.        Dive Team Qualifications

  • Each dive team member must have the experience or training necessary to safely perform assigned tasks.

  • Training for all dive team members shall ensure that each member knows and can demonstrate properly:

    checkmark The use of all tools, equipment, and systems relevant to the assigned tasks.

    checkmark Techniques of the assigned diving mode.

checkmark Diving operations and emergency procedures.

checkmark Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

checkmark Principles of diving-related physics and physiology for dives involving hyperbaric conditions.

  • Employees must not be assigned to tasks beyond their training, experience, or capabilities.

  • All dives must be supervised by a designated person-in-charge who has the final responsibility for all dive activities.

B.         Safe Practices Manual

The company must develop and maintain an accessible safe practices manual that is kept at each dive location.  The manual must contain at least the following information for each diving mode:

  • Safety procedures and checklists for diving operations.

  • Assignments and responsibilities of the dive team members.

  • Equipment procedures and checklists.

  • Emergency procedures for fire, equipment failure, adverse environmental conditions, and medical illness and injury.

C.        Pre-Dive Procedures

Prior to any dive, a variety of preparations must take place to ensure the safety of the dive.   These include:

  • Preparing a list that contains the telephone numbers of an operational decompression chamber, accessible hospitals, available physicians, available means of transportation, and the nearest Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center.

  • Collecting first aid supplies approved by a physician.

  • Making a dive plan and assessment, which includes considering diving modes, environmental factors, tasks to be performed, personnel/diving team needs,  equipment needs, and emergency plans.

  • Briefing employees on the dive plan above and assessing the health status of dive team members.

  • Inspecting all equipment to be used in the dive.  Equipment must be properly selected and maintained in accordance with 1926.1090.

  • Establishing a warning signal in the dive area.

D.        Procedures During the Dive

During the dive, practices and procedures must be developed to:

  1. Allow for safe entry and exit from the water.

  2. Establish  communications between dive teams members, and communications with outside emergency providers.

  3. Keep dive profiles on each diver, and ensure that decompression tables are available.

  4. Ensure the safe use of equipment such as power tools, welding and burning equipment, and explosives.

  5. Terminate a dive when diver(s) request a termination or when other hazards arise such as broken communications.

E.        Post-Dive Procedures

Many of the procedures followed after a dive ensure that employees do not experience decompression sickness.  These procedures include:

  1. Checking the physical condition of the diver after each dive.

  2. Ensuring that divers are aware of the location of the decompression chambers and of the hazards associated with flying after diving.

  3. Providing decompression chambers where specified in 1926.1083(c)(1) and (c)(2).

  4. Preparing dive records for each dive as specified in 1926.1083(d).

F.        Specifications for Specific Diving Modes

In addition to the general provisions above, there are specific requirements for scuba (1926.1084), surface-supplied air (1926.1085), and mixed-gas diving (1926.1086).  These specifications generally set diving depth limits and safe diving procedures for each of these types of diving.  The appropriate sections must be consulted during the dive pre-planning process.


Applicable OSHA Standards:  1926.450 through 453, 550 through 556, and 1050 through 1060.

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues:  Falls, Electrical

Blasting areas on bridge renovation/demolition sites are enveloped in containment structures to limit environmental contamination and protect the public and adjacent workers from lead dusts.  These structures also aid in collecting blasting debris for classification, disposal, and reuse.

Containment systems generally consist of internal support structures and external enclosure components.  Support structures may be flexible such as cables, or rigid such as scaffolding or structural members of the bridge itself.  Enclosure materials may also be flexible or rigid such as tarps, wind screens, plywood, or rigid panels made of plastic or metal.  Even heat-activated shrink-wrap plastic is being used for containment enclosures.  The insides of containment structures are generally kept under negative pressure to the outside to limit the escape of blasting dusts and debris.  (See the article by Leroy Mickelsen regarding ventilating containment structures in appendix N for more information.)  Enclosures may envelop large areas of the structure or partial areas such as micro- or mini-enclosures.

Whatever containment system is used, it is important that the structure be designed to enable the safe erection and use of the structure.  Typical expectations of a safely and properly engineered enclosure include:

  • Preventing the emissions of dust and debris that pollute the environment and expose the public and workers adjacent to the structure.

  • Allowing for the removal of rust and existing paint from the bridge surfaces.

  • Permitting the rapid erection, dismantling, and transfer of the containment structure along the bridge as necessary.

  • Withstanding heavy winds and weather conditions that can be expected at the project site.

  • Being designed to accommodate the nature and integrity of the bridge, its load-bearing capacity, and its elevation.

  • Being designed to consider the proximity of the containment to other structures, and to areas of public access.

  • Being designed to permit the continued operation of the bridge during renovation or repair activities.

  • Being designed to control, to the best extent possible,  exposures to workers inside the containment and to allow for adequate lighting.

  • Being designed to be compatible for the method of surface preparation used, such as wet methods or high-pressure methods.

  • Allowing for accessibility to work surfaces for both employees and inspectors.

  • Being affordable.

  • Enabling safe and quick exit from the structure in the event of an emergency.

  • Not being readily combustible.

  • Not violating any regulations or ordinances.

To accomplish these expectations, pre-planning is required and should be incorporated in the preparation of the site-specific safety plan discussed in chapter 2  and illustrated in appendix M.  A pre-planning design team consisting of a structural engineer, mechanical engineer, coatings specialist, and an industrial hygienist should be formed to ensure that the containment system is safe and effective.

Once a containment system has been designed, care must be taken to ensure that it is properly set up, and that employees entering the containment system understand the purpose and use of the containment system.  The use of entryways and air-locks and egress methods should be clearly communicated to all workers before they enter the system.


Applicable OSHA Standards: 1910.146, 1926.24, 1926.352

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues: None

When a high degree of control is necessary to limit access and regulate activities in work areas because of the nature of the hazards present in these work areas, permit systems can be developed.  Typically, permit systems are used for welding, grinding, and other hot work performed in work areas where flammables and combustibles are present.  Similarly, access and activities in  confined spaces can be regulated through a permit system.   On bridge RR&D sites, both permit-required confined spaces and structures or pipelines containing combustibles or flammables may be present, and permit systems should be used.

A typical permit system utilizes a designated person or persons as "gatekeepers" to oversee all access and operations in the permitted work area.  Usually the permitted work areas are demarcated by signs, tape, cones, barricades, or other indicators.  A written permit that minimally documents that a hazard analysis has been conducted and control measures instituted must be signed by the gatekeeper before access and activities can begin. 

Confined Spaces

When hazards cannot be eliminated in a confined space before entry, a permit system must be established to ensure the safety of entrants.  In permit-required confined space entries,  OSHA specifies that the following information must be included on the confined space entry permit (see 1910.146 (f) and appendix F).

  • A description of the permit space to be entered.

  • The purpose of the entry.

  • The date and the authorized duration of the entry permit.

  • The personnel, by name, serving as attendants outside the permit-required space.

  • The name of the entry supervisor and his/her signature.

  • The hazards of the permit space entered.

  • Measures taken to isolate the permit space and to eliminate or control permit space hazards before entry.

  • Acceptable entry conditions.

  • The results of initial and periodic tests performed for air contaminants.

  • A summary of rescue and emergency services that can be summoned and the means to contact the providers.

  • Communication procedures between entrants and attendants.

  • Equipment used for entry such as air monitoring devices, personal protective equipment, rescue equipment, and communications equipment.

  • A list of any other permits used in the space, including hot work permits.

  • Any other pertinent information.

Hot Work

Hot work permits are generally issued when hot operations are conducted in areas where flammables and combustibles are present in or near the work area.

Prior to beginning hot operations, a "gatekeeper" or permit authorizing authority must be designated.  This person must ensure, preferably through a written permit, that:

  • Authorization for hot work from the owner/operator has been obtained.

  • The area has been inspected for combustible or flammable materials present in the work location.

  • The area has also been evaluated for the presence of ducts and pipes that could inadvertently transmit heat and sparks to other hazardous areas.

  • Combustibles or flammables noted in the area have been protected from ignition by:

    checkmark Moving the hot work away from the combustibles/flammables.

    checkmark Moving the combustibles/flammables away from welding operations.

    checkmark Rescheduling operations so that operations that might liberate flammable or combustible materials are not present.

    checkmark Purging or inerting pipes, tanks, and other structures containing combustibles or flammables in the work area.

    checkmark Using guards to confine heat, sparks, and slag.

  • Fire extinguishers are available in the area.

  • A fire watch has been established.

  • Workers have been trained in the use of their equipment and the permit system.

  • Other subcontractors in the area affected by the hot operations have been advised.



Applicable OSHA Standards: 1926.106; 1926.500,501,502,503

OSHA Focused Inspection Issues: Falls

When work takes place over water, both of the following must be in place:

  • A skiff or boat for emergency rescue operations, equipped with paddle or oars, a ring buoy or other life preserver, and a reach extension device.  Where water current exists, the skiff or boat must be motorized or occupied at all times.  A safety line may be connected between the boat and a structural member capable of maintaining the position of the boat.  Under all conditions, the skiff or boat must be located such that it is available for immediate use if an emergency arises.  It must not be kept locked or otherwise unavailable.

  • One or more ring buoys, with at least 90 ft (27.4 m) of line attached, located at 200 ft (61.0 m) intervals across the distance of the work area that is over water.

In addition, workers exposed to a risk of falling into the water from a height of 6 ft (1.8 m) or more, and not protected by railings or netting, must be protected by a OSHA-approved fall arrest system (lanyard and harness or belt attached to a life-line or other suitable tie-off point), as required by 1926 Subpart M.

Employees should not work alone, where practical, in situations where a drowning hazard exists.

All safety equipment and personal protective equipment must meet OSHA standards.  Equipment includes personal fall arrest systems, safety lines, safety nets, life preservers and personal flotation devices, and safety boats.  Safety equipment must be inspected prior to and periodically during each use.  Equipment showing signs of mildew, broken fibers, deterioration, excessive wear or damage, which could materially affect its strength, must be removed from service.  Equipment should not be allowed to become wet, and should be stored in a dry location away from caustics or corrosives, or other sources of damage.  If equipment does become wet, it must be thoroughly dried before storing.

Drowning protection must be provided for workers in areas where the danger of drowning exists and passive fall protection (OSHA-specified nets or railing) are not present to prevent workers from entering the water.  When active fall protection (lanyards, etc.) is provided, or the workers must work outside the railing, drowning protection is required.

OSHA does not provide specific criteria to determine when the risk of drowning is present.  It is considered to exist at any time the depth of water exceeds 5 ft (1.5 m) (or is subject to sudden depth fluctuations to 5 ft (1.5 m) or greater).  For depths less than 5 ft (1.5 m), the risk of drowning may exist if swift currents are present, or if a fall into the water may result in the person becoming unconscious or otherwise disabled.  Even for depths as shallow as 2 ft (0.6 m) or less, drowning protection may be required under some conditions.

Any workers who may be exposed to accidentally entering the water must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vest at all times.


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