Institute for Occupational Safety and Health


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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there were a total of 1,008 fatalities that occurred within the construction industry in the year 2018. More than half of these fatalities have been the result of the following leading causes: falls, being struck by something, being electrocuted, and being caught in/between something. In light of these findings, OSHA determined that the construction industry’s “fatal four” categories are the ones listed above. Out of these four categories, falls were responsible for 33.5% of the fatalities, which added up to approximately 320 deaths due to falls. Because of these alarming figures, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and other organizations have launched particular programs aimed at preventing falls. Employers and workers alike benefit from the programs because they are provided with the relevant knowledge, and statistical data, including control methods to prevent injuries and deaths caused by falls.

Falls from rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders are just some of the various forms of falls that may occur in the construction sector. According to NIOSH, the factors that are present when falls occur include as follows: surfaces that are slick, crowded, or unstable; edges that are not covered; gaps in walls or floors; dangerous ladder conditions; and a problem with fall protection. As per a recent safety article, the expenses associated with compensation for slips, trips, and falls total eleven billion dollars annually. These injuries and expenses will result in an increase in the premiums that are paid for employer’s compensation insurance. This is a significant expense for companies and their insurers. These kinds of injuries may be readily avoided by taking the necessary precautions, which include the accurate identification of fall risks and the installation of control measures.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that the construction sector accounts for 81 percent of fatalities caused by falls from heights, including roof falls, which caused 124 deaths in 2016. Inexperienced workers, a lack of proper training, the absence of appropriate safety devices, inadequate anchoring and/or connections, personnel who are working alone, and adverse weather conditions are some of the contributing factors that may lead to falls from rooftops. Employers and workers are pushed to complete their work more quickly as a result of complacency and the rush to meet deadlines, which can lead to certain safety control measures not even being implemented. Sometimes employees simply want to get something done fast, like coming back to collect a piece of equipment that has been left behind on the roof, and they choose not to tie themselves in to a fall arrest system in order to accomplish this goal. They may easily lose their balance due to anything as simple as a slip or as severe as a strong gust of wind, which could result in their tumbling over the edge and harming themselves or worse (Fry, 2019).

There are a variety of safety precautions that may be taken to avoid falls from roofs. To begin, the employer is responsible for taking the necessary steps to ensure that an efficient fall protection program is in place at the workplace and that all members get the appropriate training on the program’s various components. During this training, participants should focus on how to correctly wear and use personal fall protection systems, as well as the criteria for installing such systems’ components. No employee should ever be required to work alone, and employers should implement a buddy system as part of their workplace policies. Last but not least, it is essential that all staff keep an eye on the existing and expected weather conditions that may have an effect on the activities taking place at the jobsite, and that they prepare appropriately.

According to NIOSH, 104 people lost their lives as a result of falling from ladders in 2016, with construction accounting for 81 percent of those fatalities. Again, worker inexperience and a lack of training is a contributing cause, but ladders carry their own unique risks. The proper selection of a ladder and its positioning are essential components of safe ladder use. One has a responsibility to check that the location where the ladder will be used is stable and that it is leveled correctly at both the top and the bottom of the ladder. Because climbing ladders and descending them can become tedious, a worker may try to carry quite so much equipment and materials as they can in order to avoid having to do so repeatedly. The extra strain that will be placed on the ladder as a result of the worker’s weight in addition to the objects they are carrying will increase the likelihood that the ladder may break. Another contributing factor is the use of ladders below the roof line, which is an unsafe practice and should never be done (Greeson, 2020).

Control measures that are shown to be effective should be used whenever work is being done on or near ladders. The employer’s fall safety program should encompass training for all personnel on ladder inspections, ladder selection, including ladder operations. The ladder has to be inspected by the workers to look for any signs of wear or other faults that might cause it to fail or be deemed hazardous. The operation of a ladder correctly involves knowing how to pick the appropriate access point with the safest circumstances, which include having level ground, a sturdy support structure, and no impediments or electrical lines hanging above. Ensuring that every member keeps three points of contact at all times and that they never climb up or down the ladder while facing away from it. NIOSH developed the Ladder Safety App to aid in safeguarding employees from falling from a ladder. The app contains all of the control measures outlined above and includes a ladder angle calculator to guarantee that safe ladder operations are being undertaken (Mitchell, 2020).

The construction sector sees 86 percent of its fatalities attributable to the use of scaffolding. This is linked to numerous elements within the sector. The employer not offering fall prevention program and the lack of employee training are key factors in trip and slip and fall accidents, just as they are in the other two categories of accidents. The structure of the scaffold and the precarious nature of the work surfaces are other contributing factors. Another contributor to this problem is when workers stay over after everyone else has gone home to attempt to catch up on work or put in extra hours. A number of employees have been injured as a result of falling because they were using ladders on top of the scaffold rather than creating a scaffold that was the appropriate height for their task. It is possible for an employee to slip and fall if there is clutter or debris on the platform. The OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1926.451 provides several key requirements for scaffolds, including fall protection and arrest systems, guardrail height requirements, midrails, footings, platforms, bracing, capacity, training, inspections, as well as construction. A competent person is required to guarantee that all personnel are taught, pick the kind of scaffold to use and guide its setup, check for flaws and difficulties, and report any findings. This requirement is included in this standard. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that they encourage the enforcement of competent personnel within the workplace and ensure that they give sufficient training to all workers who are working on a scaffold in order to reduce the risk of employees falling from a scaffold.

When using scaffolding, it is important to ensure that it is properly planked and clear of any obstructions that may prevent someone from safely using it. In addition to the control methods that have been outlined above, OSHA outlines a number of preventative measures that an employer should use to safeguard workers from falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolding. The first step for businesses is to install guardrails and toe boards whenever there are floor holes, open sides, raised platforms, or any other circumstance in which an employee may fall into dangerous equipment. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety of their workforce by installing fall arrest devices, safety nets, stair railings, and hand rails (Michaels, 2020).

The Fall Prevention Campaign was created by OSHA in conjunction with NIOSH as well as the National Occupational Research Agenda – Construction Sector beginning in 2012. This approach focuses on three main components to prevent falls only within workplace. These components include planning ahead to get the task done in a safe manner, providing the appropriate equipment, and training everyone to utilize the equipment in a safe manner. When an employer plans ahead, they may handle any dangers that are found in the workplace and plan projects in advance. Planning ahead also means that employees will be safer. An employer is responsible for locating and providing the appropriate safety equipment required to successfully complete a project. One may observe a pattern in the causative elements given above on how crucial fall protection programs as well as training are (Fry, 2019).

In conclusion, OSHA made the right choice when it selected falls as one of the construction industry’s fatal four. According to OSHA’s Employer Responsibilities, an employer is required to provide a safe workplace for all of its employees, one that is free from hazards. Throughout the construction sector, this may be somewhat more difficult than in other industries; but, if an employer follows the control techniques described above, they will be able to avoid falls from occurring in their workplace. This will guarantee that their members are protected and continue to live.

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