Imagine this scenario: A construction worker is replacing shingles on the roof of a two-story house 20 feet above ground. He loses his footing and slips, falling off the roof. He’s wearing a fall-arrest system, and as a result is saved from death. But he’s not out of danger yet.
Between 2003 and 2013, falls were the leading cause of death in the construction industry, resulting in more than 3,500 fatalities, according to OSHA. During that time, falls from roofs made up roughly 34 percent of the deaths – all of which were preventable.
Building scaffolding for work projects can present numerous serious hazards to employees. According to OSHA, injuries related to scaffolds include falls, tip-overs, being struck by falling equipment, and coming into contact with energized power lines.
Work-related falls can result in severe injuries and death. According to the National Safety Council, falls to a lower level were the second leading cause of workplace fatalities in 2009, behind highway crashes.
Scaffolds can be a safer and more productive way to work than ladders, but they must be set up correctly, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health warns, noting that the majority of fatal falls among construction workers in Massachusetts involve scaffolds.