Falls in the Construction Industry Safety Minute
Falls from heights are one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the workplace and in the home. In the construction industry, falls are the leading cause of fatalities. In 2020, there were 351 fatal falls to a lower level out of 1,008 construction fatalities (BLS data).
The standards set by OSHA for protecting workers from falls in the construction industry are some of the most commonly violated standards in the workplace. More work needs to be done by employers to ensure workers are protected while working at heights.
Fall Prevention Through Plan, Provide, and Train
OSHA uses a “plan, provide, and train” model in its fall prevention campaign, which is a straightforward way to prevent falls in the workplace.
Plan– Plan work tasks ahead of time. Planning work tasks is especially important for high-hazard tasks such as working at heights. First, look at eliminating any work at heights if possible. If elimination is not possible, then plan what you will need to perform the work at heights. Plan out what equipment, tools, personnel, and materials you will need. After looking at these items, look at what safety equipment, PPE, and training will be needed to complete the task safely.
Provide- Provide all necessary safety equipment and PPE when the work height exceeds six feet and engineering controls such as guardrails are not in place. Outside of equipment and PPE, provide the employees with the proper amount of time it takes to set up the job as well complete the work.
Train- Properly train employees not only to know how to use the safety equipment that is provided but also in hazard recognition. It is important that the employees are able to recognize hazards and understand how to properly address them before starting or continuing work. Train employees to first think about how to eliminate dangerous work tasks or the hazards that accompany working at heights.
Compliance with OSHA standards should only be the start of working at heights safely. Following a well-thought-out plan, providing all the necessary resources, and training employees can help to prevent injuries and fatalities due to falls.
- What are some work tasks that put us at risk for a fall to occur?
- What are ways we can eliminate hazards during our work tasks that require working at heights?