Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Safe Enough for a Three Year Old

After being contacted by Cati O’Keefe with Remodeling Magazine to schedule time to speak about job site cleanliness and safety on remodeling projects, I asked myself the question, “How clean is safe?” The answer came to me a couple days later when I installed some recessed lighting in my own home.

My wife and I are blessed with twin boys that happen to be 3 years old. After answering them at least twenty times as to why I had to go into the attic, I found myself working in such a fashion that my boys could be around watching and ‘helping’.

For the record, my house was built in 1994. So, there is no threat of exposure to lead based paint. There was however, the expected amount of drywall dust generated during the removal of the surface mount outlet boxes and the cutting of holes for the new fixtures.

During the installation of three recessed lights in our upstairs hallway, I vacuumed no less than four times; once after preparing each new opening and once again at the completion of the project. At no time was there debris on the floor. Keeping the work area this clean and safe allowed my boys to be around.

I realize that this work process did take longer to complete than it could have, but it was well worth it to have my little helpers there.

This experience kept me thinking about my discussion with Ms. O’Keefe. Costumers continually complain about how messy their remodeling projects were. The EPA is moving ahead on mandating lead safe work practices. How does a remodeler know they are working safely and cleanly?

The simple answer to this the question, “Safe enough for a three year old.”

On projects where this is just not feasible, install physical barriers, such as visqueen plastic to keep occupants from entering the work space. Your contract may need to stipulate that occupants must be out of the house during certain phases of the project: demolition, drywall sanding, window installation, etc.

If workers manage their work processes and job site such that if a three year happened walk through it would be no big deal. Doing so is much safer for the worker, more productive for the contractor and provides a better remodeling experience for your customers.


Anonymous Jimmy said...

Thanks. Since I meet you at a CGR class I have in my contracts and my subcontractor agreements that jobsites must be left clean enough for a 3 year old, and if it is not then I back charge for the cleaning. Thanks for your continued support of our industry.
Jimmy McKinney

6:47 AM  

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