Just take a look at OSHA’s Fat Cat report and the most common theme on the fatality report is a fall, usually from some sort of construction job site. Fall from heights is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction, accounting for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S., more than 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured, and the statistics for 2016 show that of the 991 construction fatalities, falls accounted for 370.
Overall, fatality injuries in construction are higher than any other industry in the United States, with the majority of them occurring in establishments with fewer than 20 employees. About two-thirds of those fatal falls were from roofs, scaffolds and ladders.
Many, if not all, of these deaths could have been prevented with these common-sense safety precautions* including:
• Planning ahead to do the job safely before starting each and every job.
• Providing the right equipment for working at heights.
• Training workers to use the equipment properly and to work safely on roofs, ladders and scaffolds
Preventing Roof Falls
• Wear a harness and always stay connected
• Make sure your harness fits
• Use guardrails or lifelines
• Guard or cover all holes, openings and skylights
• Don’t disconnect from the lifeline
• Don’t work around unprotected openings or skylights
• Don’t use defective equipment
Preventing Ladder Falls
• Choose the right ladder for the job
• Maintain three points of contact
• Secure the ladder
• Always face the ladder
• Don’t overreach
• Don’t stand on top or on the top step of a stepladder
• Don’t place the ladder on unlevel footing
Preventing Scaffolds Falls
• Use fully planked scaffolds
• Ensure proper access to scaffolds
• Plumb and level
• Complete all guardrails
• Ensure stable footing
• Inspect before use
• Don’t use a ladder on top of the scaffold
• Don’t stand on guardrails
• Don’t climb cross-braces
*DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2012-142, Fall Prevention Fact Sheet - http://stopconstructionfalls.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Campaign-Fact-Sheet.pdf
Even though construction falls are the majority of fatality-related falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 261,000 private industry and state and local government workers miss one or more days of work yearly due to injuries from falls on the same level or to lower levels. Fall injuries are a big financial burden, accounting for an estimated $70 billion annually in the United States through workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with occupational fall incidences.
To increase awareness for fall prevention, OSHA incorporated National Safety Stand-Down Week five years ago. This year’s event takes place May 7-11. OSHA is asking employers to set some time aside during that week to have an open discussion with employees about falls and how to prevent them. Workplace Safety and Health Co. is here to help you lower employee injury rates. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.