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H&S Tips for Unsafe Conditions: Railroad Tie Spikes, PPE Needs and Site Observations

May 16, 2000

Empower yourself with expert advice and stay ahead of potential hazards on the job site with our comprehensive health and safety tips, brought to you by our team of industry-leading experts

​​​​​​1. The Situation – Railroad Tie & Spikes on Site

A VERTEX colleague was conducting site inspection at railroad tie processing facility following a fire. VERTEX was retained to conduct pollution management. During the inspection, VERTEX observed numerous railroad tie spikes and clips throughout the property. The railroad tie spikes created a significant trip hazard and potential puncture hazard. Thankfully, the employee was cognizant of the ground conditions and there was no incident.


  • If similar sites are encountered in the future, consider obtaining puncture-proof boot inserts through Purchasing. 
  • Additionally, always be observant when walking through a similar site and slow down your walking pace to reduce risk of puncture and tripping.
  • Minimize what you carry to further reduce the chance of slipping and falling.

2. The Situation – Monitoring Well Unlatching

VERTEX colleagues were trying to pry open the lid of a monitoring well with a chisel (with a chipped end) when a small piece of the chisel broke off and flew at them. Neither of them was injured by the piece. At the time, the PPE they were wearing included steel-toe boots and safety vests. After this near miss, they wore their safety glasses while opening the other wells and had the other colleague who was not opening the other wells stand far away from the area.


  • Always wear safety glasses and gloves when opening well lids. Best practice is that as soon as you step out of your vehicle to put on your PPE.
  • Use the right tool for the task and ensure that tools that are not damaged.

3. The Situation – White TPO Membrane

VERTEX colleague was inspecting the roof of a 3-story apartment building covered with a white TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) membrane. The roof had two levels, with one level approximately one foot higher than the other level. While walking on the upper level, due to the sun reflecting off the white TPO membrane, they did not recognize the height differential and stepped off the upper level, causing them to fall. The underlayment of the roof consisted of a rigid insulation board, which is fairly soft, helping to break their fall and they landed on their side, partially rolling while they fell.


  • Always wear sunglasses on TPO roofs on bright days.
  • Be cognizant of your surroundings at all times.

Discover how VERTEX is transforming the future of Health and Safety with our groundbreaking projects. Explore projects in our portfolio for more of this type of work.


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