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Don't Fall for Carelessness: Falls are Top Cause of Construction Deaths

December 12, 2014
 / Safety / 

iStock_000033782258SmallIt’s no secret that construction work can be dangerous.

From the heavy machinery being run on jobsites to the weighty materials often involved to the back-breaking labor put in, the construction field is no playground. But workers on jobsites can become complacent over time as they get used to dodging holes in the ground or having beams fly over their heads.

As comfort and familiarity with the work increases, however, caution and alertness tend to fade, leading to lapses in safety precautions such as personal protective equipment and physical barriers on jobsites.  Near misses increase, which leads to actual incidents that cause injury, work stoppage, or even death.

And the leading cause of death in the construction industry is perhaps the most avoidable. Falls account for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in construction. There were 294 total fatalities in 2013 (284 falls to lower level), and more than 10,000 construction workers are seriously injured by falls every year in the United States, according to OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda on a national Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness about common fall hazards in construction—like those from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs—and how to avoid them.

Their suggestions are:

  • PLAN ahead to get the job done safely—Decide how the job will get done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment will be needed. Safety equipment costs as well as necessary equipment costs should be included in the estimation process. HCSS HeavyBid estimating software can help you incorporate these costs into your bid so that your company and your workers are covered.
  • PROVIDE the right equipment—Decide which safety equipment is necessary (personal fall arrest systems, harnesses, etc.) and make sure there is enough for everyone. Make sure it is all in good working condition.
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely—Safety equipment does no good if it is not used properly. Safety managers must host toolbox talks and safety meetings to train employees on hazard recognition and the use of safety equipment.

HCSS Safety is a unique construction safety software and mobile application solution to help keep your employees safe in the field. Safety managers can record safety meetings and training sessions to keep track of what topics have been discussed with workers, and near-misses and incidents can be recorded in the field and sent directly to the office in real time. What’s more, HCSS Safety is already pre-loaded with more than 600 toolbox talks, including 35 on falls alone.iStock_000008477163XSmall

“We have the capability for companies to do their job safety analysis on falls, too,” HCSS Safety Product Manager Brooke Pankey said. “If they document those meetings then we can look at them and coordinate them with the number of accidents and near misses. We can see, if our meetings on falls are increased, are we decreasing our incident rates due to falls? Or if we are missing those meetings, are we having more near misses? Are the toolbox talks really effective, or do we need to increase training?”

OSHA also provides more toolbox talks on its website, including one for Fall Protection, which describes the basic types of fall protection typically required on a jobsite.

Does your company have a safety program in place? How do you protect your employees from the hazards surrounding the jobsite? Let us know in the comments below!

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