Falls are the number one cause of construction fatalities in both the U.S. and Canada. Most fall fatalities occur from roofs, ladders and scaffolds, and residential construction is of particular concern. Workers are also at risk for serious injury from falls caused by slips and trips around the jobsite due to unsecured openings and uneven or slick surfaces. Fortunately, falls are readily preventable with proper protection.
Impact of Falls
Slips, trips and falls can range from minor to severe, leading to anything from a bruise to a fatality. Every year, falls play a role in over 11,000 injuries and about 370 deaths in the construction industry.
Addressing Fall Protection
OSHA’s construction standard requires an employer to provide one of three kinds of fall protection – guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems (harnesses) – to every worker exposed to a possible fall of six feet or more. Fall protection is required on scaffolds ten feet or taller. Additionally, all workers on a roof must have warning lines, guardrails or lifelines.
Employers must assess worksite fall risks that workers may encounter and implement procedures and work practices that detail how to mitigate these hazards. Most employers provide personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) and install guarding to protect workers. Fall protection systems, procedures and good housekeeping are effective in preventing employees from falling off, onto or through working levels. Good housekeeping also reduces the chance of slips, trips and falls on the same level.
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