Contractor Safety Share

Sharing safety information

Unusual Work Locations Can Be Hazardous



A contractor sustained a thermal burn to his neck when he contacted an un-insulated steam line.  The steam line was approximately 11 feet above the floor and usually covered with a suspended ceiling tile system.  The work area was under a major renovation and the ceiling tile had been removed for several mechanical systems upgrades.  The injured employee’s work task was to work on a HVAC system in the area where the ceiling tile was removed.  The employee was in a scissors lift when he contacted the pipe.  The steam pipe’s insulation had been removed from a prior repair and the section was to be replaced during this renovation.  This repair did not occur when the steam system was down for a short outage and other priority repairs to the steam system were completed.  The steam line was not labeled or identified and the line had been exposed for seven days prior to the injury.

Factors to consider at your site and/or project include, but not limited to the following:

  • When working above a ceiling, or any unusual workspace, special precautions are needed because there can be potential hazards present.  The location of process piping and/or utilities above ceilings is by design as physical isolation is the first line of defense.
  • The full repair of the steam line did not occur and this hazard was in plain view for seven days.  No one recognized the hazard, or communicated to the involved parties about this hazard.  If working above ceilings, interstices, vaults or other normally non-occupied workspaces, the task you are assigned is not routine and has potential hazards associated with its completion. 
  • Pipelines should be labeled and/or identified.  If working near or around unidentified lines or containers, ASK.  If you see insulation removed, report it and think why the line was insulated in the first place. 
  • There is a cliché that states; “Think outside of the Box”.  Lets start a new one, “When working outside of the box (unusual work locations), think how to protect yourself and co-workers.”
Consider this example as you complete today’s work activities.

Safety Flash Action Items:
  • Date Contractor Safety Flash posted for all employees to review: _______________
  • Safety Talk meeting date: _______________
  • Full employee attendance and participation at safety meeting to review this incident (documentation required).
  • Employees understand urgency in protecting themselves and others.
  • Supervisors and Employees are clear which items shared in this Safety Flash are mandatory.
  • Employees/Supervisors will focus on recommended actions during future work activities of a similar nature.
Contract Firm Management Rep Signature____________________

THINK about the hazards associated with your particular work, and the steps that can be taken to increase safety on your job.


If you have questions about this CONTRACTOR SAFETY FLASH, please contact


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