Woodworking sites with underappreciated risks

Manual handling, hand tools, falls from heights…: Carpentry sites have risks that must be handled precautionary.

In the wood and PVC joinery sector, nearly 7,000 work accidents are recorded every year. On construction sites, there are many dangers and they can have serious consequences, including death. Preventing the health and safety of workers, especially those targeted by the labor inspectorate, remains an absolute priority, and is still often overlooked.

Beware of manual handling!

On a daily basis, appropriate carpenters are required to lift, carry, move, place, push and pull more or less heavy equipment. All of these routine operations – which define manual therapy – are significant risk factors. Cause injuries during shock, fall or excessive exertion. Soon arrived a bruise, a sprain, a jam in the fingers! In the medium and long term, the lesions are likely to become chronic, with joint wear and tear potentially leading to occupational disease. sAccording to the 2019 Annual Report of Health Insurance, manual handling remains the main cause of work accidents.

It is up to the employer to take all measures to avoid as much as possible the physical limitations of its employees. Priority is given to the use of mechanical aids. Handling tools, a vacuum lifter, for example, are ideal for handling and transporting glass surfaces. Slings, a winch, or a small winch also helps reduce risks. These mechanical means should be checked regularly. Various training and permits, as well as personal protective equipment, are often required to use them.

But in certain cases, it is inevitable to resort to manual handling: access to the site is complicated, mechanical equipment is unavailable or difficult to implement. For prevention and recommendations, several factors are taken into consideration to assess the risks on site, before starting work: Is there enough space to move, handle and store the equipment? Is the ground uneven? Are the transmission distances too large? Does handling require repetitive or prolonged effort? What is the position of the body? What is the weight, volume and bulk of the load that will be handled? etc.

When risks are clearly identified, several methods can be used to prevent them. “Information and training”, this could be the motto to remember: give as much information as possible and by all means (display screens, a quarter of an hour of safety per day …) about the risks, the weight of the loads … Public safety training is also essential, provided it is repeated periodically. Training in gestures and postures is mandatory and allows teaching of working postures in order to reduce musculoskeletal disorders in particular.

Hand tools, the second cause of accidents

Hand tools cause 22% of work accidents in the wood and plastic joinery sector, and they mainly cause injuries…to the hands. A crowbar, hammer, or saw can crush, cut, or even sever fingers or hands. If these injuries are often benign, they must be treated immediately, otherwise they will only get worse. Not to be taken lightly, hand injuries account for 45% of workplace accidents.
There are many causes of accidents related to the use of hand tools: improper use of tools, defective, improper or poor quality tools, and forced postures. Sometimes safety instructions are not followed and personal protective equipment is not used.
TheHowever, personal protective equipment is essential to protect all parts of the body, particularly the hands. They are specified in the Labor Code in Articles R 4311-8 to R 4311-11. Equipment is selected according to the tasks to be performed, the size of the user, the parts of the body to be protected, and applicable standards. They are provided and renewed, if necessary, by the director of the company
However, safety is everyone’s responsibility: every worker is required to wear them, even in situations where they seem restricted. Respecting instructions and informing colleagues or the employer of potential risks also helps prevent risks.

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risk graph

Watch out for the falls!

Temporary work at height is necessary when installing or removing exterior joinery, in a multi-storey building, for example. This activity presents a significant risk of falling. In the absence of a protective device, loss of balance leads to falls into a vacuum, often with serious consequences: shocks on landing, bounces, collisions with protruding objects … Potential hazards should be assessed and avoided as much as possible . When this cannot be done otherwise, collective or individual protection measures are inevitably guaranteed.
With regard to work at heights, the regulations are clear: According to Article 4323-63 of the Labor Code, it is forbidden to use ladders, stairs and stairs as workstations. However, this device can be used to reach a work area at a height and/or for a short time.
As part of an on-site carpentry site, permanent fixtures and temporary non-mechanical equipment (scaffolding, movable lift platform, etc.) are the best alternative for working at heights. They offer collective protection, as a priority. In case of technical impossibility, the use of personal protective equipment against falls (fall prevention systems, belts, etc.) is provided.

In order to propose solutions that make it possible to avoid hazards, work situations that expose employees to risks of falling should be identified as soon as possible. But those directly related to the effect of height are not the only ones: electrical hazards, the presence of accessible cables, for example, must also be taken into account. The workers themselves play an important role. Trained to use group and individual protective equipment, and trained to wear their own personal protective equipment, they ensure their safety and peace of mind for the company.

Falls on the same level, small causes, but sometimes serious consequences

The drop is often underestimated at the same level and accounts for approximately one in 10 work accidents in the carpentry sector. Slips, bumps and stumbles lead to loss of balance and then falls with unexpected effects: sprains, cuts, fractures and, rarely, death. By acting on the various risk factors, fall prevention is approached at the same level as a whole.

The risk factors for falling at the same level are very diverse but are related, first of all, to the technical provisions of the workplace: the presence of obstacles on the ground, water, oil or coffee grounds that make them slippery, too dim lighting, improper shoes … Secondly, it can be Organization of work is also a source of risk: failure to carry out equipment maintenance, poorly planned travel management, or lack of training or education of workers.
Identification of all these positions makes it possible to carry out specific actions: removing obstacles, cleaning floors, providing a non-slip surface, scheduling activities to reduce the risk of falls. Here again, informing and training workers is at the heart of prevention. All means are good to make them realize that falling on the same level is not a trivial thing.


Carpentry and sun protection sites expose workers and craftsmen to many other hazards, which are not simple: road hazards while moving equipment, exposure to noise, chemicals, related to climatic conditions… Again, assessment and risk prevention, information and training remain the four words that They must be remembered to ensure the safety and health of workers.

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