The leading cause of death for construction workers are falls. In 2013, the fatalities attributed to falls was 302 out of a total of 828 total deaths in construction. Approximately 6.5 million people work in the construction industry where the fatal injury rate is higher than the national average.
OSHA mandates Safety and Health Regulations for the Construction industry that employers are required to inforce. They have to put fall protection systems in place but fall protection is the most violated OSHA standard.
Falls consistently account for the highest number of deaths for construction workers every year. Many elements contribute to falls such as human error, improper use or failure to use fall protection equipment and unstable working surfaces. Employers should ensure that workers are properly trained how to safely operate equipment and machinery. According to the Bureau of Labor, sixty percent of construction site injuries happen within the employee’s first year of employment, so proper training is extremely important.
Studies show a good way to reduce the number of injuries and deaths from falls include using guardrails, safety nets, covers, fall arrest systems and restraint systems.
Some solutions OSHA suggests are to erect guardrail systems with toeboards and warning lines or install control line systems to protect workers near the edges of floors and roofs. Cover floor holes, use safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems like body harnesses and use aerial lifts or make elevated working surfaces safer by using elevated platforms.
OSHA has a Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness among construction workers and employers on the dangers of falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. Their website has valuable information about falls and how to prevent them. They provide training tools and posters to display at worksites. A lot of the resources are geared toward workers with limited English proficiency which makes them more susceptible to workplace injuries and fatalities.
Proper training and education is key because these construction site fatalities are preventable.