The largest danger that construction workers face on site is injury from falls. According to OSHA and Bureau of Labor statistics, there were a total of 796 fatalities in the construction industry in 2013, and falls accounted for 294 of these. The worst thing about these statistics is that deaths from falling are almost entirely preventable if site managers follow a basic three-level plan.
OSHA has unveiled a nationwide campaign of outreach to help build awareness about the hazards workers face from ladders, roofs and scaffolds. This page allows access to educational resources involving the prevention of injury from falls. The three steps that must be improved and followed to avoid these injuries are Plan, Provide and Train.
There is an old saying that the best offense is a good defense. Planning ahead forms a first line of defense against potential injuries. Determine a solid course of action for the job. Outline the necessary duties, who will perform them and any safety equipment necessary to perform said duties safely.
A fall from a mere six feet can prove deadly. It is important to keep this in mind when putting safety procedures in place. Make sure that after you have determined the necessary equipment, you provide enough to ensure that everyone has access when needed. This means the right safety gear, scaffolds and ladders.
For workers higher up, such as those doing work on roofs, personal fall arrest, or PFAS, systems should be provided. No worker should ever be on a rooftop without a harness and anchor. Be sure that the provided harness fits each worker properly, is in good condition and your worker is not in danger of it fraying or breaking.
Planning and providing necessary equipment is not enough. Never assume that your workers know the right way to use what you give them. Be sure that everyone gets all the needed training to use the equipment properly. When workers understand how to set up and use equipment safely, they can prevent falls.
More than equipment, however, employers need to teach workers how to recognize and avoid potential hazards on the workplace, and to report such dangers when they see them. Always remember that a trained workplace is a safe workplace.
OSHA provides a number of resources for workers and supervisors to help maintain a safe and secure working environment. Supervisors should take advantage of these resources, many of which are geared towards those for whom English is a second language.
In addition, remember that as a business owner or site supervisor, you are an excellent resource for your workers. Hold regular seminars and workshops to go over site safety procedures and drill your workers to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Education is paramount, and the more education your workers have, the more they will be invested in reducing worksite dangers.
Do you have any thoughts about reducing the danger of falls? Leave us a comment and let us know!