Weekly Safety Training Topic No. 2019

Don't let your tools and equipment spread COVID-19

During this time of concern about being exposed to COVID-19, we need to make sure that we are making the best decisions regarding everyone’s own well-being. This can be hard to grasp on the project because of the state of mind that “I’m just here to work”. While that is true, as most employers can agree, that safety is top priority and that includes the health and well-being of each employee. Let’s take a look and discuss the best practices for safety and health of tool usage, which also includes utilization of tools and equipment my multiple personnel or Trade Partners.

First, you want to make sure that you are practicing excellent hygiene when in comes to your own personal health, your tools and equipment. Start your day with washing your hands. Wash them in accordance with the Center of Disease Control (CDC) guidelines or use hand sanitizer, when available. After you have cleaned your hands, now it’s time to focus on your tools and equipment.

Wipe down, clean and disinfect tools that you will be utilizing for the workday, prior to use. Be very careful when cleaning and disinfecting your tools and equipment, some cleaners and/or disinfectants can cause damage to plastics and insulated parts of these items. Check with the owner’s manual of each tool to determine the proper cleaning solution and techniques designated by the manufacturer. Cleaning may be done with mild soap solutions, a damp ragged cloth or possibly a manufacturer approved diluted bleach solution. Never use any cleaning agent or solvent that is flammable or combustible on or around tools or equipment. Also, most manufacturers will not allow the use of gasoline, turpentine, lacquer thinner or any ammonia containing cleaners/solvents.

Make sure that you clean any tool or piece of equipment that you might lend to other person or Trade Partner to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any other disease that can be transmitted by touching the surface of the material. Once the Trade Partner has finished using the tool or equipment, they should clean and disinfect it before returning it to the rightful owner. As the owner of the tool or equipment, you should make sure and ask the Trade Partner returning it if the tool or equipment has been properly cleaned and disinfected.

By cleaning and disinfecting your tools and equipment could help prevent the spread of disease. Tools and equipment are just a few items that should be cleaned before use. Most employers are trying to combat the spread of infectious disease by conducting routine cleaning and disinfecting common areas, including door knobs/pulls, hand rails, toilets, break areas and elevator push buttons.

Below are a few examples of tools and equipment that should be clean and disinfected.

  • Mobile equipment – forklifts, scissor lifts, aerial lifts
    1. Steering wheels
    2. Control buttons, levers & switches
    3. Entry gates and latches
  • Ladders – both extension and folding
  • Portable, temporary GFCIs
  • Hand-held tools – tape measures, saws
    1. Battery-operated – drills, saws
    2. Corded – miter saws, circular saws, table saws
    3. Powder-actuated

Remember, we need to be careful what we share. Here is some guidance from the CDC regarding disinfectants. A proper disinfectant can be a diluted household bleach solution, which can be 5 tablespoons of bleach or 1/3 of a cup of bleach per one gallon of water. If you need a smaller scale of household bleach solution, you can use 4 teaspoons of household bleach for one quart of water. Other disinfectants are also alcohol solutions that are at least 70% alcohol and there is a list of 287 disinfectants against COVID-19 registered by the EPA and can be found at www.epa.gov/pesticide- registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.

So, clean before use with approved cleaners by the manufacturer and disinfect. Reduce and limit the tools and equipment that is barrowed. If a Trade Partner finds it necessary to barrow a tool or piece of equipment, make sure they clean and disinfect it before they allow anyone else to utilize it and after they are done using it.


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The information and recommendations contained in this “Weekly Safety Training Topic” have been compiled from various sources believed to be reliable and represent the best current opinion on the subject. The Builders’ Association in no way guarantees, insures, or warrants the absolute correctness or sufficiency of any information contained within. The Builders’ Association expressly disclaims all liability and assumes no responsibility therewith.