Falls in construction: A deadly hazard
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.
What should employers do?
As part of its nationwide campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs, OSHA has created a “Plan. Provide. Train.” webpage at www.osha.gov/stopfalls. The agency notes that fall-related deaths can be prevented by following three steps:
Plan: When it comes to construction work performed at height, employers need to think ahead. OSHA advises starting this process by first deciding exactly how the project will be completed, what tasks will be involved and what personal protective equipment workers will need to complete the project. Make sure to include the cost of PPE for workers when estimating the cost of a project.
Provide: It’s imperative that workers are provided with the proper fall protection and tools, including harnesses, ladders, scaffolds and other safety gear. OSHA notes that some equipment, such as ladders and scaffolds, are appropriate for different jobs. Provide workers with the correct PPE for the specific task at hand, and ensure it is in good working condition.
Train: Although providing workers with appropriate fall protection is critical, they also must know how to use it. Train workers on the proper setup and safe use of equipment, and ensure they understand why it is important to know how to use the PPE.
OSHA also promotes the idea of being a role model for workers. “Lead by example,” the agency states. “Employers, project managers and supervisors should follow the rules they are responsible for enforcing.”
For more information about how to prevent falls on the job, go to www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3755.pdf.