Impalement Hazards

Impalement Hazards

Common Hazards on Construction Sites

Exposed rebar ends & nails are a common hazard on construction sites. They can stick out and pose a hazard to workers who can cut or scratch themselves on the sharp ends. Workers that stumble or fall onto the exposed bars can be pierced or impaled on them, resulting in serious internal injuries and death.

During demolition and rubble removal from sites: protruding steel, nails, & pipe can pose a threat for injury and damage. Tire, trailer, and equipment damage from contact with materials sticking out of debris can be costly.

Tire damage may not present itself until on the highway at high speed resulting in a blowout and loss of control.

Trips and falls due to poor housekeeping or selecting a pathway across instead of around debris can lead to impalement on the exposed ends. Good housekeeping practice is key to reduce these types of injuries. Always pick up torch cutoffs and welding rod tips.

Removed equipment housings, tools set on the ground pointing up and materials staged near the workforce have to be accounted for as impalement hazards. Plan and arrange your work area to allow for plenty of space to do the job and avoid stepping on or tripping over these items.

To protect workers from rebar and nail hazards, OSHA requires that rebar and other projections on the worksite “be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement or removed from the workforce.” Guarding against rebar, stakes, and nail impalement hazards must be done when workers will be working around or at any height above exposed ends.

Workers should be vigilant around exposed rebar ends and debris. Fall prevention is the first defense and covered ends are extra insurance against impalement in case of a fall where new work is progressing. With the focus on safety, exposed ends are one point workers will be glad to miss!

The safest way across a job site may not be the straightest path.

Hazards and Controls

  • Do not enter unsafe trenches with exposed impalement hazards (rebar, roots, pipes, tools).
  • Perform housekeeping during your work as well as at the end of your shift.
  • Stage tools and materials to avoid stepping on top or fall atop them when not using them.
  • Use excavator or grapple to bend and compact rebar and other protruding debris within concrete rubble before loading.
  • Repair or remove sharp edges on trucks (like damage trim) and work faces (loose pipes wires and nails) to avoid getting scratched or worse.
  • Remove all nails or pound flat from removed formwork, broken pallets, and lumber.
  • Wear gloves to handle metals and lumber. Wear safety boots that are puncture resistant (leather, reinforced, or Kevlar).
  • Report unsafe potential impalement conditions you cannot take care of yourself to your supervisor.
Avoid walking on debris and perform housekeeping throughout the day to avoid injuries.

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