Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rebar safety tips for construction

Safety Tip - Rebar safety

The construction industry has changed with the manner they work and in the way that they accomplish the erecting of buildings. Along with the new methods and equipment have come new and advanced safety regulations. In the modern age of construction, safety comes before all else when building a custom home.

When building footings, foundations or ICF homes you will ultimately end up with exposed rebar protruding from concrete.

When concrete is re-enforced with rebar the rebar is left protruding out of the concrete so that it can help the next pour of concrete bond to the first pour of concrete. This rebar is about as sharp as a knife and when it is standing vertically it can end up being a spear to anyone that falls onto it.

What makes things worse is that rebar is usually on the bottom of a hole at the start of a foundation, this means that anyone that trips or falls will gain speed and velocity as they fall into the hole.

There are some very easy ways to protect workers and the public from this potentially lethal disaster. Here are a few ways:

Install a construction or snow fence around the excavated hole; this will stop people from accidently falling into the hole or tripping and falling from the top of the hole.

You can install plastic rebar caps, they install on top of the rebar at the cut end where the sharp end is exposed. This works great as they can also be placed on horizontal rebar protecting people from cutting themselves when they walk by them. Caps can be costly, especially on a very large job and they also will wear out overtime, when a rebar cap wears out it does not hug the rebar anymore and can fall off with a stiff breeze. You must take the time to walk around and check each cap once they are installed.

There are simple ways to protect workers from vertical rebar; an easy way is to attach a 2x4 to the top of the rebar. Simply wire the 2x4 on top and run it across the top of the sharp rebar. This easily protects any one from being cut or impaled. This method is far cheaper then rebar caps; the one downside is that it restricts the movement of the workers. They have to walk around to the space that you leave between the 2x4s for access.

When building ICF walls below grade or above grade a simple way to protect workers against vertical rebar is to install the first row of ICF block (which is made of ridged foam), this will keep people from being impaled. ICF block is between 16 inches and 18 inches high, this is usually enough too completely cover the vertical rebar.

Use signage to tell the public of the dangers from the hole and the exposed rebar. This should be done on any site were you think the potential for the public to gain access to the site when there are no workers present is high.

For any area where you believe that the public will have the potential to gain access to the site at night you need to put reflective markers or reflective signs to warn people of the danger of the hole. Even if you have the rebar properly protected the fall into the hole could cause severe injury.

If there is no way to practically cover the end of certain rebar like a horizontal rebar protruding from a wall, then flagging it with bright tape or spray painting it with fluorescent paint will help warn people away from it. Also placing physical barriers in front of it to stop or slow down people walking near it, these can be as simple as a couple of saw horses or a string of caution tape.

The ways to protect workers are simple and affective; there is no reason not to properly protect yourself against the dangers of exposed rebar.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. Awesome, this article also contain very important information

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  2. These are good tips for construction site safety regarding rebar. I wouldn't have ever considered half of these.