The following content was provided directly from the Concrete Reinforcing Institute's "Safety First" publication. We thank them for permission to include it the iRebar site. For additional information, please visit CRSI.org.
ELIMINATING REINFORCING STEEL IMPALEMENT HAZARDS ON CONSTRUCTION JOBSITES
The handling, fabrication, and placing of steel reinforcement has hazards, as do all aspects of the metalworking and construction industries. CRSI has a number of resources to help its members and the reinforcement and construction communities minimize risk to employees and others on jobsites.
For its members, CRSI provides online access to safety work practice and procedure templates, machine guarding examples, and safety training information. CRSI also distributes safety awards as a way of recognizing the top safety performers among members of the Institute. We recognize all members who achieve a full year without a recordable injury and all members who have an injury rate of less than half industry average rate. These recognitions are one way we encourage Institute members to focus on safe work practices and safe workplaces.
In a letter of interpretation dated March 18, 2014, OSHA impalement hazards on construction worksites. The agency recognizes there are objects other than reinforcing steel that can present potential impalement hazards, which is why it has two construction standards that apply.
29CFR 1926.7Ol(b) applies to reinforcing steel. It slates:
“All protruding reinforcing steel, onto and into which employees could fall, shall be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement.”
29 CFR 1926.25(a) applies to protruding nails. It states:
"During the course of construction, alteration, or repairs, form and scrap lumber with protruding nails, and all other debris, shall be kept cleared from work areas, passageways, and stairs, in and around buildings or other structures.”
Unguarded protruding steel reinforcing bars are hazardous. Even if you just stumble onto an unguarded rebar you can impale yourself. resulting in serious internal injuries or death.
- Guard all protruding ends of steel rebar with rebar caps or wooden troughs, or
- When employees are working at any height above exposed rebar, fall protection/prevention is the first line of defense against impalement.
NOT ALL GUARDS PROVIDE AN ADEQUATE LEVEL OF PROTECTION.
In some circumstances, the force of a fall can cause rebar to push clear through a plastic cap and still impale a worker, or the rebar and the cap can impale the worker together. Only rebar caps designed to provide impalement protection, such as those containing steel reinforcement, should be used.
There are protective caps designed to prevent impalement, and they will usually be flat on top, and be fabricated with steel plates inside the covering. This will prevent the rebar dowel from penetrating the protective cover. The metal plate is easily seen from the bottom of the cover. Prior to working over or near protruding rebar dowels, ironworkers must verify that approved impalement covers have been provided.
USING WOODEN TROUGHS AS PROTECTIVE COVERS
Wooden troughs can be an effective method to provide impalement protection. However, the wooden troughs must be designed and tested under the direction of a qualified person to ensure that impalement protection has been documented. The use of wood or metal troughs to cover protruding dowels Is a quick and easy method of eliminating the exposure to dowel impalement.
Bear in mind that, where possible, fall protection is still the best solution. A fall from 6 (six) feet or more on to a wooden trough or steel reinforced cap, even if it doesn't result in impalement, is still likely to produce serious injury.
The following safety legal disclaimer appears at the bottom of the source material provided by CRSI:
The information contained in this reference and within other CRSI documents and publications is based upon information that is believed to be accurate to the best of Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute’s knowledge and that of the participating member of CRSI’s Safety Committee and their collective experience, but is provided without guarantee or representation as to accuracy. CRSI disclaims and makes no guaranty or warranty expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information published herein, and disclaims and makes no warranty that the information in this document will fulfill any of your particular purposes or needs. In publishing and making the document available, CRSI is no undertaking to render professional or other services for or on behalf of any person or entity, nor is CRSI undertaking to perform any duty owed by any person to entity to someone else. Anyone using this document should rely on his or her own independent judgment or, as appropriate, seek the advice of a competent professional in determining the exercise of reasonable care in any given circumstances. Neither CRSI nor its committees or members shall be liable for damages of any kind in connection with the information expressed, presented or illustrated. CRSI disclaims liability for any personal injury, property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect, consequential, or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, application, or reliance on this document.