Certified Lead Carpenter: Jobsite Safety

by Kacey Larsen
NARI recertification credits

Few things halt a job’s progress more than injury, to say nothing of the pain and expense. A Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) is responsible for overall jobsite safety conditions, should be aware of possible hazardous conditions and materials that may be encountered on a job, and should be able to instruct others in proper procedures to minimize hazards.

He/she should be aware of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) requirements for safety in the workplace and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) requirements regarding the disposal of hazardous materials encountered. OSHA and EPA citations for rules violations can be very expensive. Note: OSHA has indicated a willingness to visit a jobsite upon request and make an evaluation without issuing any citations. Congress mandated this, but check with your state’s local OSHA office before doing so.

Aside from the personal pain and inconveniences caused by job-related accidents, financial implications can range from a short delay in a production schedule to an enormous loss of money and reputation to a remodeling contractor and, in some cases, a complete shutdown of the business operation.


Over the course of construction, scrap lumber with protruding nails and all other debris must be kept cleared from work areas, passageways and stairs in and around a building. Materials stored within buildings under construction shall not be stored less than 6 feet from any inside floor opening or 10 feet from any exterior wall that does not extend above the stored material. Make a habit of driving in or bending over exposed nails on scrap lumber, and make sure the lighting is always more than adequate for the job at hand.Citations for sloppy housekeeping are among the most common violations issued.

Electrical Safety

Make sure a source of electric power is the correct voltage and that a tool is powered “off” before plugging it into an electrical outlet. The electrical cord and plug must be in good condition and must provide a ground for the tool—extension cords should be the three-wire type. Make sure the conducting wire is large enough to prevent excessive voltage drop. Be careful stringing electrical extension cords around the work site. Place them where they will not be damaged, become a trip hazard or interfere with other workers.

Shock Protection

Electrical shock is one potential hazard of working with power tools. Be sure proper grounding is provided. Receptacles should be the concealed contact type with a grounding terminal for continuous ground, while plugs and cords should be an approved type.

Portable power tools should be double insulated or otherwise grounded to protect workers from dangerous electrical shock. Even though the circuit may be grounded, an operator of a portable power tool could be electrocuted should a bare conductor ground on a metal tool case. A ground fault circuit interrupter  should be used on all construction jobsites. These units can be installed in a circuit or can be plugged into an outlet that is grounded. 


Falls account for 20 percent of all occupational injuries. Develop habits that have helped others to work without falling and keep workers’ feet on the ground, like using a suitable ladder or stepladder; makeshifts can make trouble for you. Remember, falls from ladders are usually serious, so be sure your ladder is sound and securely placed before use.

Inspect a ladder prior to using it. If it is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded. Maintain a three-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing, keep your body near the middle of the step and face the ladder while climbing. Be sure ladder rungs, steps or feet are free of any slippery material. Additional ladder guidelines can be found on OSHA’s website, osha.gov.

In addition to falls from ladders, falls from other means can also cause serious injuries, so the following recommendations are provided:

  • Watch where you’re going. Be sure the space in front of you is clear.
  • Walk. Avoid running, sudden turns and quick changes in direction that may throw you off balance.
  • Be sure you can see over anything you are carrying. It’s safer to make two trips than have your vision blocked.
  • Be especially cautious in dark, poorly lit halls and stairs, as many falls occur in such areas.
  • Hold the handrail—it’s your protection on stairways.
  • Watch out for unprotected floor openings.
  • Brace yourself securely before pulling on anything.
  • Walk in balance when you go up stairs.   

The Certified Lead Carpenter is the point person on a jobsite and is responsible for all safety issues. It is in your and the homeowner’s interest that you maintain your jobsite in the safest possible manner and are always alert to correct possible safety issues. |QR

Take the NARI Recertification quiz for this article here.

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