Falls are the second leading cause of occupational deaths after motor vehicle crashes. In 2012, 704 workers were killed because of falls and over 20% of those deaths were from falls of 10 feet or less.
In the construction industry, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. 307 construction workers died from falls in 2012. OSHA recognizes that accidents involving falls can be complicated events and frequently involve a variety of factors. As a result, the standard for fall protection deals with both the human and equipment-related issues in protecting workers from fall hazards.
OSHA regulation 1926.503 requires that “employers shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.”
To accomplish this, employers need to do the following:
- Where fall protection is required, make sure the proper fall protection systems are used for the work environment
- Make sure safety systems are properly constructed and installed
- Supervise employees properly.
- Implement safe work procedures.
- Train workers on how to use and maintain their protective equipment
Employees involved in roofing and scaffolding work need to understand the purpose of different fall protection devices such as:
- Warning lines
- Guard rails
- Body harnesses
- Fall arrest systems
In addition, workers need to follow proper safety rules when working with ladders. Data shows that in the last two years almost a quarter of work related falls are from ladders. For that reason, it’s important to remember the basic items:
- Inspect the ladder to make sure ladder it’s safe
- Never carry tools or materials in your hands when climbing
- Use three point climbing
- Inspect where you are placing the ladder; is it level, is it a solid surface?
- Check weather; is it cold, wet, or windy?
- Don’t overreach! Keep your belt buckle between the rails.
Employers and workers need to be constantly aware of all activities occurring around the jobsite when working at heights. Complacency can cause calamities.