According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “falls are the leading cause of death in construction.” In 2015 alone, over 350 construction workers were killed due to falls from heights on construction sites. OSHA stresses that these terrible accidents are entirely preventable.
To prevent falls from heights on construction sites, OSHA has developed a fall prevention campaign to “raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs can be prevented.”
OSHA’s fall prevention campaign has three main components: planning ahead, providing the right equipment, and training workers to use equipment safely.
OSHA states that “when working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely.” OSHA states that planning should start before the job is even begun and that workers should identify which tasks they need to perform and what types of safety equipment they need to ensure the tasks are performed as safely as possible.
In other words, construction workers should never arrive on a job site and then scramble to figure out which types of equipment they need. This can lead to workers attempting to take on jobs without the right kind of tools, supplies, and equipment.
OSHA also says that construction supervisors and construction companies should include the cost of safety equipment in any job estimate. “For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as hole or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work…”
Providing the Right Equipment
Once construction companies and supervisors have planned ahead and have identified the type of equipment they need for a job, they must follow through and actually provide it. As OSHA states, “Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.”
Training Workers to Use Safety Equipment
Safety equipment and tools are only useful if workers are trained to use them properly. When workers lack the right training to take advantage of ladders, scaffolds, harnesses, and other type safety equipment, they can end up sustaining serious injuries. As OSHA states, “Every worker should be trained on proper set-up and safe use of equipment they use on the job. Employers must train workers in recognizing hazards on the job.”
How Workers Can Recognize Falls from Heights Hazards on the Job
OSHA has identified numerous ways in which construction workers can spot conditions that can lead to falls from heights. When employers take the time to educate their workers about common fall risks, everyone on the job is safer.
Common ladder safety tips include always maintaining three points of contact with the ladder. Workers should also keep the ladder on level footing and always face the ladder when using it.
Additionally, workers should secure the ladder by locking the metal braces. It’s also important to avoid “walking” the ladder. Instead, workers should dismount and then move the ladder to its next position. Workers should also refrain from overreaching when they’re on a ladder.
Scaffolds are also a leading cause of falls from heights on construction sites. Workers should practice scaffold safety by ensuring stable footing during set-up and making sure that the scaffold is plumb and level before using it. Additionally, workers should never climb over a scaffold’s cross braces or stand on guardrails. They should also refrain from using a ladder on a scaffold. Scaffolds should also be inspected by a qualified person before anyone uses the scaffold.
Roofing is a dangerous job that should only be undertaken by experienced and properly trained professionals. Workers can stay safe by using a safety harness while they’re working. They should always stay connected or tied off whenever they are on a roof. Additionally, someone with property training should inspect anchor points before a worker climbs onto a roof. Roofing contractors should also mark any holes, openings, or skylights on a roof so that everyone on the site knows where these openings are located.
Construction workers who have been hurt in a fall from a height accident have important legal rights. They can protect their rights by discussing their case with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who understands the complexities of falls from heights cases. Additionally, families who have lost a loved one in a construction site accident may be entitled to receive compensation in a wrongful death case. Workers and their families should act quickly to protect their right to receive compensation.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.