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Ontario labour ministry issues safety guidelines for stacking blocks of concrete

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Ontario’s ministry of labour has issued an alert to companies that may use concrete blocks for bulk storage of materials.

TORONTO

Ontario’s ministry of labour has issued an alert to companies that may use concrete blocks for bulk storage of materials.

Concrete companies use extra concrete to produce blocks of various dimensions. Some blocks are simply square or rectangular in shape, while others have additional physical attributes, such as connecting links, peaked tops and recessed bottoms, which are used to prevent relative horizontal movement between layers of blocks or adjacent blocks during the storage of material within the concrete walls. As these blocks are sometimes used to construct walls, the walls can vary in height depending on the number of blocks used. These blocks walls are sometimes used for bunkers and for material storage in areas such as construction yards, cement plants and yards, concrete block plants and farms.

In many sectors and cases, blocks are stacked on top of each other to add height to the storage areas, a provincial warning states. When materials are stored, loaded or unloaded in these storage areas, forces may be placed on the blocks which can cause them to move or collapse. A worker may be endangered if the concrete blocks were to move or collapse while he or she was in close proximity to them.

Workers may also be endangered when stacking the blocks to build the walls, as the blocks may tip and fall while the wall is being built. The blocks may also be too heavy for the lifting device being used causing overturning or failure of the device.

Most resulting injuries are crushing injuries or amputation of fingers, hands, arms and feet. Some injuries are fatal.

Some of the legislative requirements for use the concrete blocks in this manner are:

• Blocks used for walls should be installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications. In the absence of such information, the employer should rely upon the advice of a professional engineer for each specific wall application to ensure adequate stability is maintained at all times;

• Periodic reassessment of the alignment and stability of the concrete blocks should take place to determine if any excessive movement has occurred;

• The employer should provide barrier guarding of workers in hazard zones to maintain safe distances for workers when working with heavy equipment in areas near retaining walls; workers, who are working around the area, should maintain a safe distance from the walls and the operating equipment that could cause movement or collapse of the walls.

DCN NEWS SERVICES

by Daily Commercial News last update:Mar 16, 2011

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