Falls are the #1 Cause of Accidental Death on Construction Sites

by Paul H. Cannon on Aug. 04, 2020

Accident & Injury Personal Injury 

Summary: Fall-related deaths for workers is on the rise. This article is a discussion of how some of those deaths and injuries can be prevented.

The construction industry has its fair share of challenges. Falling on the job should not be one of them. According to the website for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2018, a full third of all construction-related deaths occurred from falls from a higher level to a lower level. During that same year, there were 22,020 non-fatal fall-related injuries that occurred on the job sites across America. Work accidents involving falling on the job are a serious concern for the construction industry and falls are the number one cause of deaths on construction sites.

What can be done to prevent falls?

Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off overhead platforms, elevated workstations, or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry, and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:

  • Provide protection from holes or gaps in the floor in which a worker could step.
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board where they are necessary to prevent falls.
  • Provide guards around dangerous machines that a person might fall into or onto.
  • Provide job-specific fall protection such as lanyards, lifelines, barricades, safety nets, and guard rails.

Furthermore, OSHA requires employers to:

  • Remedy known dangers in work areas.
  • Keep work areas free of debris and trip hazards.
  • Supply workers with protective gear applicable to the job at hand.
  • Provide proper fall protection training and situational awareness training to all employees and contractors.

Falling on the job can be prevented.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), all injuries sustained from falls are 100% preventable. By careful planning and preparation for the project, no one should be injured by a falling on the job. Tethers, harnesses, barricades, temporary railings, safety gates, and cordoning off hazardous work areas all play a part to keep everyone safe on job sites.

Safety is the number one priority

Construction deadlines are vital to progress and with careful planning aforethought, deadlines can be met with virtually no costly injuries or downtime due to unsafe conditions. Properly maintained safety equipment is not simply a group of “must-have” items to keep on hand if an OSHA inspector happens to show up unannounced, this equipment can save lives or aid in protecting against a severe injury provided it is used for its intended purpose and in good working order. Safety is everyone’s responsibility and there can be no short cuts taken when it comes to preventing falling on the job.

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