Getting Down to Business

Safety has far-reaching implications in the operation of a floor covering business, as well as the well being of installers. Any overall safety plan will include work elements employees are involved in, but must also include training for exposure or actions of other workers. Hazard Communication including Material Safety Data Sheets, electrical testing and inspection of power tools and extension cords, and evacuation plans for fire, terrorism and natural disasters are considered samples of what is within the realm of the employer.

The exposure side would include other hazards floor covering installers are exposed to when working on jobsites. Our work does not include wiring electrical panels, but we are exposed to them without their protective covers. A misplaced hand or flipping the wrong breaker can be disaster. Other workers on scaffolds pose a danger from dropping items or tipping the rig on us. That's a simple one called stay clear. It's all about identifying the hazard, evaluating the risk, making adjustments, re-evaluating, training and enforcement of the company rules. None of this is simple, but it is necessary.

I have observed two areas that are often overlooked. Because the floor covering trade is highly mobile from jobsite to jobsite, it is not uncommon to log 50 or more miles a day. Whether it is your vehicle or a company provided one, the risk and responsibility are comparable. The more you are involved in any activity, the greater the risk.

This is just as true concerning ergonomics. The difference is that it is not a single event that will get you, but the everyday work that leads to it. The repetitive action relates to cumulative trauma disorder. Hitting a knee kicker is certainly a contributive cause of knee injuries, but so is all the kneeling we do daily.

The angle we hold our tools and the grip strength play a role in wrist and hand afflictions. Stretching, taking mini breaks and rotating work tasks go a long way in extending your career, not to mention having a mobile retirement.

Of all the written plans and training, nothing has a bigger impact then us putting safety into action during our installation activities daily. Work safely, because the trade needs qualified floor covering installers like you.