According to the Centers for Disease Control, every day, four construction workers in the United States die on the job, and falls are the leading cause. Also, the top ten most frequently cited OSHA violations are for improper fall protection, scaffolding safety, and ladder safety, resulting in the highest penalties, as well.
The Bureau of Labor statistics classify falls as: falls on the same level of work, falls to lower level, and jumps to a lower level, when a worker jumps voluntarily to avoid a fall or other injury. Construction workers have the highest number of fatalities from falls. Falling from roofs is one of the main types of falls.
Companies are required to train workers in how to avoid falls. They must understand how to use fall protection equipment, such as harnesses, lanyards, rope grabs, roof anchors, roofers’ kits, tie-off slings and ladder safety systems. Workers should know not to carry other objects while climbing a ladder. There are certain procedures that meet the legal requirements for working in heights. A very important daily habit to have is to be sure their equipment is in good shape, each time they get ready to use it.
Platforms should be used correctly. It’s easy to get off balance while standing on scaffolding or other types of platforms, and the results could be devastating. Supervisors should set a good example for their workers, and never allow them to take shortcuts. The workplace should have guardrails around floor openings and take other measures to keep their employees safe. There are many sources of falls, and not all falls are fatal, but can lead to injuries, and lost time. Workers can slip on floors, stairs, escalators, steps, parking lots, and chairs (yes, standing on chairs to change a light bulb or retrieve something is a big no-no.) Weather conditions can also become a hazard for those working in heights.
A friend of mine recently bought a bike. She fell the first time up, and broke her shoulder. Now, she is getting ready for surgery in a few days, and will miss work for a few weeks. Another friend fell off her back steps and broke her arm! (I am really being careful now.) We can fall anywhere, anytime, but the main concern is that we try to be careful and keep our bones intact!
Bureau of Labor statistics also report that the cost to the company of a workplace fall can be around $40,000, with additional costs ranging four to ten times that amount. The way things are these days, it will pay to encourage all employees to be very, very careful!