This week I will start with a couple of questions:
- What makes a job go smoothly?
- What makes a job profitable?
- What makes a job run safely?
I am sure that most of you guessed correctly… the answer is planning!
Proper planning is the foundation that should always be done. Why then, do we so often forget about it?
Recently, I found myself watching a concrete pour… the setup seemed standard, maybe a meter deep at most and with wooden forms. The forms were well built, the rebar was in good order and ready to go, concrete was ordered… overall the formwork was set up well!
The lack of planning came into play during the execution. There were enough workers, all of whom had the right skills; however, some things were just not right. The workers were climbing the up forms, jumping down from the forms, and using a single bar of rebar and tightrope to get from one area to another. They had a concrete vibrator, ok, that was good… but the only other tools were a couple of spades.
Typically, a job like this requires a rake and a couple of square nose shovels. Square shovels are superior to spades in this application, a spade is made for digging, a square shovel excels at moving materials, not to mention scraping concrete off forms to improve footing. Rakes are fantastic for moving concrete into place, without them, I watch workers resort to moving concrete with their boots. Kicking concrete into place with the side of your boot is not a great practice as it tends to put lateral pressure on the knee joint leading to injury. Without the proper tools, there is a temptation to over-vibrate the concrete to move it which can lead to concrete desegregation.
How do we address this?
We can use our handy Job Safety Analysis (JHA) process for this. A comprehensive JHA would have addressed the following questions:
- Access/Egress – Do we have safe access to the concrete forms? Do we need to build stairs? A ramp? A ladder? How do we build these in such a way that they will not interfere with the concrete screed?
- Concrete Placing – Can we get the concrete where we need it to be from the chute? Do we need wheelbarrows to get to some areas? Would a concrete pump make more sense? What tools and equipment do we have available? Do we have adequate shovels? Do we have rakes? Is it appropriate to use the good old 2×4 or 2×6 method to screed the concrete or is the pour large enough to warrant a power screed?
- Concrete Finishing – What sort of finish does this concrete get? Do we need magnesium trowels? Steel trowels? Brooms? Do we need a power trowel maybe? Do we have enough extension handles to do the job?
A well done JHA will not only set you up for safety success, it also improves quality and speeds up production! Good safety planning does not just prevent accidents, it means more money in the bank.