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Preventing construction falls: What you should know and do

Falls have remained the No. 1 cause of construction deaths for a long time now -- despite the best efforts of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to change things.

In 2015, the year for which the latest statistics are available, falls caused almost 39 percent of construction deaths. The second top cause of construction deaths, being struck by an object of some sort, caused just less than 10 percent of all deaths. That tells even the most casual observer that there's something not working when it comes to fall prevention safety efforts.

Falls from a higher level to ground level account for slightly more than slip-and-fall accidents on one level. To prevent both types of accidents, workers need to follow some basic safety precautions:

  • Insist on fall protection safety devices when required to work at any height. Safety devices include harnesses and catch lines. If they aren't available, don't do the job until they are.
  • Personally inspect your safety devices for worn materials, D-rings that are working loose, frayed lanyards or broken connections. Do not assume that just because it worked safely for the last guy using it that it'll work for you.
  • Make sure that a clear walking path is always maintained on each level. This is every member of the crew's responsibility, but -- if necessary -- assign that task to someone so that it gets done. Just a casually mislaid tool or a stack of tiles sitting around for a few minutes can end up causing someone a major back injury if he or she trips and falls.
  • Safety shoes should be mandatory attire. Anyone who shows up to work in ordinary sneakers or boots without an appropriate tread should be sent home to change.

It can't be overstated how important fall prevention efforts are to the safety of construction workers. Every year, more than 200 employees lose their lives on construction sites due to falls. Another 10,000 or more suffer terrible injuries.

If you've been injured in a fall on a construction site, you have a right to compensations for your injuries. If you're having trouble receiving fair compensation, an attorney can help.

Source: ConstructConnect, "Top Causes of Construction Accident Injuries and How to Prevent Them," Kendall Jones, accessed Aug. 16, 2017

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