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Habitat Teaches Home Builders How to be Safe on the Jobsite

Whether on the roof nailing shingles, using power tools on the ground or painting the inside of a closet, Habitat for Humanity strives to keep its volunteers safe.

Several homebuilders met in Charleston in January at BrickStreet Insurance. They were there for a quarterly meeting of the Home Builders’ Association of West Virginia. The focus: preventing workplace falls. Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam was invited to speak about its exceptional volunteer safety practices, in particular its use of the Horizontal Under-eave Guardrail System known as HUGS: a truss mounted roof top safety guardrail system.

Using volunteer labor can be quite a dilemma when it comes to keeping workers on the work site safe. One of the most dangerous areas of a volunteer work site is a roof. Because of that, Habitat uses HUGS fall prevention railing on all houses it builds.

At the January 18th meeting, Bill “Tiny” Hanshaw, Habitat for Humanity’s construction supervisor, spoke to over 40 homebuilders detailing the HUGS safety guardrails he uses to protect Habitat volunteers. Hanshaw’s presentation focused on the ease of using HUGS guardrails to provide maximum worker safety. As he spoke, he told the home builders that HUGS are a worthy investment.

“Safety is always Habitat’s first priority because we work with volunteers.”

HUGS Railing Safety “We have been using the HUGS system for years now and believe it is great. I couldn’t imagine putting volunteers on a roof without it,” Hanshaw said. He went on to say as a construction supervisor he has always preferred the HUGS system over safety nets and harnesses because HUGS are stable, more reliable and can be reused for years.

Hanshaw told the group that many Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country prefer the system because it does not interfere with roofing, wall finishing, window, siding or other installations, is compliant with fall protection standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and gives workers the confidence to safely work on roofing projects at Habitat build sites.

Hanshaw ended his presentation by saying that HUGS are great for anyone that builds houses – not just volunteer organizations – who want to provide a safe working environment for everyone. “Instead of requiring special training and fall prevention equipment, HUGS can be put up easily and at a low cost, providing the safest possible work environment.”

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