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Preventing falls in construction: NIOSH issues fact sheet

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Photo: NIOSH

Washington — NIOSH has published a new fact sheet intended to help construction employers and workers prevent falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, who average more than 310 fatal falls and 10,350 serious fall-related injuries a year. Additionally, the majority of fatal falls from scaffolds (86%), roofs (81%) and ladders (57%) occur in construction.

The fact sheet, which stresses the importance of training and regular ladder and scaffold maintenance, offers several recommendations for avoiding falls:

For workers on roofs:

  • Implement a fall protection program, wear proper fall protection and undergo corresponding training.
  • Use correct anchorage for fall arrest systems.
  • Use a buddy system.
  • Monitor weather conditions when working at height.

For workers on ladders:

  • Choose the right ladder for the job.
  • Don’t overload the ladder.
  • Use the ladder on flat, level ground.
  • Face the ladder while climbing and maintain three points of contact at all times.

For workers on scaffolds:

  • Train and assign a person to supervise scaffold setup.
  • Ensure scaffolds comply with manufacturer guidelines and OSHA standards.
  • Place scaffolds on stable ground or surfaces.
  • Inspect scaffolds and scaffold parts before each use.

The sixth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction is set to take place May 6-10. NIOSH, OSHA and the Center for Construction Research and Training – also known as CPWR – are offering a number of free online resources to help employers prepare.

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