Some of the most common injuries that happen at work are the result of slips, trips, and falls. In fact, falls are the most common cause of deaths in the construction industry, accounting for more than 37% of all on-the-job construction deaths in the U.S. in 2016. Slips, trips, and falls were responsible for 27% of all worker’s compensation cases involving missed days of work in 2014. Injuries from falls have a big financial impact as well.
The National Safety Council estimates that falls cost more than $70 million in worker’s compensation and medical costs annually.
The most common causes of workplace falls include:
- Slippery working surfaces
- Cluttered working surfaces
- Unstable walking surfaces
- Unprotected edges
- Unsafely positioned ladders
- Misused fall protection equipment
- Floor holes and wall openings
Construction and extraction workers are particularly at risk for falls, but those employed in healthcare support, building cleaning and maintenance, and transportation and material moving are at higher risk as well. Of course, falls can also happen in any working environment.
To help prevent falls in the workplace, employers should:
- Plan ahead.
As part of any project, determine whether workers will need to use ladders, scaffolding, or work at varying heights. Then plan out the safety equipment needed in advance.
- Provide safety equipment.
Your employer should provide fall protection gear and proper equipment such as ladders and scaffolds for any worker working at a height of 6 feet above another level. Your employer should also inspect all safety equipment.
- Train workers to use safety equipment.
All the safety equipment in the world won’t help if no one knows how to use it. Your employer should ensure that everyone knows how to set up and use all equipment properly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fall protection training resources can also help.
All workers, not just those in the construction industry, can help prevent falls in the workplace by:
- Housekeeping: Keep walking surfaces clean, dry, and uncluttered.
- Proper footwear: Ensure all workers have footwear appropriate for the job and job location.
- Quality walking surfaces: Ensure that all walking surfaces are stable, clean, and free from obstructions or holes.
- Good lighting: Ensure that work areas are well lit at all times.