Holes around jobsites and the home are responsible for thousands of trips, falls, and deaths yearly, and most, if not all, are senseless. It’s obvious jobsites in general are hazardous, but holes left open are particularly dangerous if not marked or barricaded, because normally people are looking up at the structure or components in the building and are not looking down for holes.
The biggest uncovered holes are made by plumbers and foundation workers who want to ensure their projects have been properly inspected or functioning. Leaving trenches and holes are understandable if the project needs inspecting, but the problem is leaving them open without proper barricades or flags. In the early morning or late evening when light is lower, holes can blend in and it’s even worse if a trench or hole is dug close to the walking path of the project. Ankles are quickly broken, and people have been impaled by such things like metal rebar for foundations. If you must leave a trench or hole exposed on your jobsite- flag it and barricade it properly.
Another area of grave concern where dangerous holes are left open is in upstairs areas or bonus rooms. It is not uncommon to walk on a jobsite with two stories and find a large gaping hole in the second-story floor waiting for some type of HVAC ducting or plumbing. These are particularly dangerous because a fall through a second story hole normally leads to a serious injury, if not death. Please always nail temporary plywood over these holes and be sure the area is properly flagged and barricaded. If you have a project where you must walk around a second story hole in the floor, then you are asking for a bad accident.
It is very common, especially in Florida, to install skylights or off-ridge vents in the roof. The skylights provide great natural light for the home and off ridge vents can help cool down attics in the heat of summer. To dry-in a roof before the finished roof is installed, a contractor will run a felt or synthetic roof product over the roof to protect the inside from a sudden rainstorm. That is understandable, but when the felt is laid over an exposed hole it looks just like the other part of the roof- solid with plywood. Many roofers have fallen through a skylight hole or vent hole covered with just felt resulting in serious injury or death. It is one of the dumbest things done on any jobsite. Never, ever cover a hole on the roof with just felt or shingle underlayment.
Septic and well tank holes around your home can be deadly, especially to children. Yearly, it is estimated that 50 children die from falling into uncovered septic tanks and about a dozen from falling into well holes. Children love to play outside, and uncovered septic tanks and wells are places for them to explore. These accidents are horrific in nature and normally the result of a property owner not hiring the proper professionals to service their wells or septic systems. These deaths do not account for all the serious limb injuries that occur from people falling or tripping into these uncovered wells and septic tanks. If you have septic issues at your home or business, please ensure all open hole areas are barricaded and monitored until the work is complete and never leave a septic tank or well hole open unattended. A curious small child from the neighborhood could perish because you failed to do the right thing.
Finally, holes of any sort around your house are dangerous. The injuries and deaths from falls and trips are numerous, and they can be easily prevented by covering holes properly, barricading, flagging, or better yet, yearly monitoring. To leave even an abandoned animal hole in your yard could break a person’s ankle and create a lifetime disability. Walk your home and property and cover up the holes.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.