Safety & Regulations

Age Regulations on the Work Site

All volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult!

All volunteers that are on the work site are required to sign a waiver. A separate waiver is required by all persons 18 or under and must be signed by the volunteer and their parent or legal guardian. Both the adult and minor waiver forms are available here.

For safety reasons, we are unable to accommodate youth under the age of 14 on the build site, in the warehouse or in the offices.

Youth 14 years or older are welcome on some of the days of the build, as long as they are with a supervising adult in a ratio of at least one adult per every four children. Youth must also have a waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian.

Every youth volunteer must wear a hard hat at all times except on landscaping days where no other construction is taking place. Your building schedule will tell you which days are authorized for youth or contact Volunteer Services.

A volunteer must be 18 or older to use power tools.

14 and 15 year olds are allowed to paint, landscape, pick-up trash, move dirt, provide and serve lunches, etc. They cannot do general carpentry.

16 and 17 year olds are allowed to do general carpentry, which can include activities such as hammering, putting in insulation, etc. They cannot do excavation, demolition, roofing, use power tools or work at heights above 6 feet. They must follow all rules pertaining to hardhat use, height requirements and power tools.

Individuals under the age of 18 cannot volunteer in the Home Centers.

All youth are required to wear appropriate safety equipment for the task they are performing. Regardless of the tasks being performed, volunteers should at all times wear appropriate clothing to the site including thick soled, closed toed shoes.

Individuals over 75 years of age are not allowed to do any work that requires leaving the ground – i.e. — any work that requires climbing or using a ladder. They should not work unaccompanied or lift or carry materials that weigh more than 25 pounds. Care should be taken when lifting any objects.

Waivers are available here.

Safety

Since Habitat work crews normally have a high number of inexperienced people, everyone must pay particular attention to safety. Try to be conscious of the safety of others as well as yourself. An observer can often see danger better than the worker involved in the project. Be cautious at all times and ask questions. Do not go ahead with a task if you are uncertain as to how to complete it, or feel unable to do it.

Habitat has age regulations in place to help ensure the safety of our volunteers. View our Age Regulations.

Safety is based on knowledge, skill, and an attitude of care and concern. House leaders should instruct each worker about the correct and proper procedures for performing each task, as well as familiarizing the worker with the potential hazards of doing the task and how such hazards can be minimized or eliminated.

Guidelines for a Safe Attitude
1. Think before you do your task.
2. If you are uncertain about how to perform a task or operate a tool, ask your house leader.
3. Concentrate on your task and eliminate distractions.
4. Know where the first aid kit is located and how to get emergency help.
5. Inspect all power tools, hand tools, ladders, and scaffolding before you use them.
6. Advise your house leader immediately of any unsafe condition or hazard.

Proper Safety Equipment
Proper clothing is as essential to safety as the proper selection and use of tools. Wear clothes and gloves that are appropriate for the work and weather conditions. Work shoes or other appropriate footwear will be worn. Sandals are not permitted. Hard hats will be worn while roof work is being completed. Habitat will supply the necessary number of hard hats. A volunteer must wear protective glasses (when using power tools) on the Habitat construction site – NO EXCEPTIONS!

Power Tools and Other Electrical Equipment
Use a power tool only after you have received proper instruction on its use and on the consequences of improper use. Personal power tools should not be brought to the job site. Clean tools daily. Check power tools for defective switches, cords, plugs, and proper grounding. Do not use defective power tools — report the defect immediately to the house leader.

Hand Tools
Always select the correct type and size of tool for your work and be certain that it is properly adjusted. Do not use tools that have loose handles or are otherwise in poor condition. Dull tools are hazardous because excessive force must be used to make them cut. Oil or dirt on a tool may cause it to slip and cause an injury. When using tools hold them correctly. If you do not know the correct way to use a tool, get instructions from your house leader. When working with a hammer, make certain that it is kept securely in your tool belt and not placed on a sloping surface or in an unsafe position. Do not carry sharp tools in pockets.

Saw usage
1. Do not bind (or pinch) the blade of any saw. Always leave one end of the piece you are cutting free to fall. If a saw blade binds, the saw will kick back towards the operator.
2. Keep the blade guard working. A spring-actuated blade guard can often become bent, preventing it from sliding quickly. Never tie the guard back out of the way or use a saw without a guard.
3. Support your materials properly. Never attempt to cut something that could tilt or fall and cause the saw to slip.

Ladders
Inspect a ladder before you use it. If a ladder is unsafe, do not use it. Use a ladder that will reach your work. Always have someone else hold a ladder for you. An extension ladder should reach three feet above the work level. Move your ladder with the work. If both of your shoulders are extended outside the ladder, you are reaching too far. When using an extension ladder, use the “four to one” rule: For every four feet of height, move the bottom of the ladder one foot away from the wall. Place your ladder on solid footing. Never use an aluminum ladder in the vicinity of electrical lines, and never use a ladder outdoors during inclement weather or on a windy day. Carry tools and materials in proper carrying devices, and keep your hands free for climbing. When climbing, always face the ladder.

Work Site Cleanliness
A clean work place is a safe work place. This refers to the neatness and good order of the construction site. Maintaining good housekeeping contributes to the efficiency of the worker and is important in preventing accidents. Always remove nails from scrap lumber before you lay it down. Clean up rubbish and scrap materials daily. Do not permit blocks of wood, nails, empty cans, pipe, wire, or other material to accumulate on the work site — since they interfere with work and can create a hazard. Keep unused tools and equipment in chests or tool boxes. Never leave a work site unguarded unless all tools and materials have been secured.

Poisons and Toxic Substances
The poisons and toxic substances that are most often found on a Habitat construction site are lead oxides and solvents. Special care should be taken around such substances or any unfamiliar substances. Painting and cleaning solvents should be stored in labeled containers with safety instructions.

Personal Safety Policy
In order to continue our outstanding record of safety, Habitat practices a Personal Safety Policy. Volunteers are not permitted, at any time, to work alone on a Habitat worksite, inside a Habitat home, in the construction warehouse, Home Centers, or Habitat office. Unaccompanied volunteers * are required to work together at one site in one of the following minimum combinations:

  • Two volunteers and/or a full time Habitat staff member of the same gender.
  • Three volunteers and/or a full time Habitat staff member of mixed gender.

*An unaccompanied volunteer is a volunteer who does not have an established relationship with the other volunteer(s) he or she is working with prior to the volunteer experience.

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