Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers. Out of 774 total fatalities in the construction industry in 2011, 264 were caused by falls (almost all of these to a lower level). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has partnered with National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) – Construction Sector to remind workers that such deaths are preventable.
Injuries can be eliminated and lives saved by following three simple rules:
When working at heights (using ladders, scaffolding or occupying roofs), employers need to plan projects to guarantee that work is performed safely. Start by determining how the task will be done and what safety tools or equipment will be needed for it.
When assessing the price of a job, managers should factor in safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary tools at hand on site. For instance, in roofing, consider the various fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, and implement fall protection appropriate to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
Workers more than six feet above a lower level are at risk for serious injury or death if they fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the correct equipment for the job, meaning the exact type of ladder, scaffolds, and safety gear.
Different ladders and scaffolds are right for different tasks. Always give workers the type they need to complete the job safely. For roof work, there are many methods to guard againt falls. If workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), give each worker a harness to latch to the anchor. Ensure proper fitting of the PFAS, and look over all fall protection equipment to make sure it remains in mint condition for use and worker safety.
Falls can be avoided when workers know about proper set-up and safe use of equipment; this means employers need to offer training on the specific equipment they will use to complete the job. Project managers should train workers in hazard recognition and in the proper use scaffolds, ladders, fall protection systems, and other job equipment.
OSHA has provided numerous materials and resources that employers can use during toolbox talks to train workers on safe practices to avoid falls in construction. Falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps: Plan, Provide and Train.
The new online resource is part of OSHA’s outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and businesses across the country regarding the risks of falling from ladders, scaffolding and roofs. Educational materials included on the website provide information to workers and employers about falls and how to avoid them. There are also training resources for managers and public posters for worksites. Many are aimed at the needs of vulnerable workers or those who speak a non-English language.
We encourage you to take part in this campaign by offering resources from the site to workers and employers in your area. OSHA will periodically add information to the website throughout the year.
Whether they work at heights or stay inside a computer lab, Washington employees with a work injury often need legal help collecting their workers compensation benefits; others find themselves needing to appeal a rejected L&I claim. If this is your case, a Seattle Workers Compensation Attorney at Emery Reddy can represent your interests. Our experienced L&I Lawyers work tirelessly each day to provide guidance to workers who have been ordered to complete an independent medical exam, or who have other difficulties with their L&I claim. Call us today for a free consultation.