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Construction Insurance Bulletin

Inspect Employee-owned PPE and Tools Too

By March 2, 2015No Comments

Certainly someone in your organization inspects hand tools for wear and tear, cracking, or chipping.  Grounds on electrical tools should be periodically checked as well as operational fitness.

But your employees and subcontractors bring tools on site too.  Who checks those tools?

As a prime contractor, you are still responsible for overall workers’ compensation and general liability claims.  Check their tools and personal protection equipment (PPE) too.

A fairly quick visual inspection will tell you if hard hats fit properly, whether or not workers have proper eye protection, are they dressed correctly for the work, and if they have appropriate footwear.

Take time to check any suspicious or missing PPE.

Check hand tools to assure quality:  no spurs on hammers or chisels, handles securely attached, no cracks or breaks, nothing rusted shut or open?  Saws sharp?

Inspect the cords on power tools.  Are they grounded?  No loose prongs?  Are they appropriate for the application?

Most of these inspections can be done quickly and unobtrusively while the crew sets up their workspace.  Ask if they have an assured grounding program, and if so, could you review the paperwork.

Offer to help correct any deficiencies.  The idea is to work safely, not stop work completely.

Observe the safety attitude of these subcontractors.  It’s one thing to have proper tools, PPE and work clothes.  It requires discipline and good work habits to operate safely.

Tell and write your employees about your standards for proper tool maintenance.  They should want to bring their own tools.  You, however, are still responsible.

Certainly power tools must be properly grounded.  Require these personal tools to be inspected and tagged as acceptable.

If OSHA visits the site and corporate tools undergo an inspection process, but personal tools do not, or if it’s significantly different, OSHA will rightfully have an issue with this protocol.  You may still be in compliance, but sloppy habits point to greater potential problems.

Besides, don’t your employees deserve a safe workplace not invaded with dangerously maintained tools and ungrounded power equipment.

Observe the workforce, the entire workforce. Inspect tools to assure safety and proper maintenance.  Require subcontractors and specialty labor to follow the same rules.  Keep the workplace safe for all of them.