Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) there were 774 deaths among construction workers on the job in 2010. Falls accounted for 264 fatalities and were the leading cause of death for construction workers. The sad part is most of the fatalities could have been prevented with proper construction site safety. Falls also cause numerous non-fatal injuries. With proper fall prevention incorporated into the safety program, a significant portion of the non-fatal accidents on constructions sites could be avoided as well.There is risk of a fall is whenever employees are on an elevated surface – ladders, scaffolds, bridges or roofs.. Employers need to recognize the potential dangers involved and plan the work in a way that will allow its completion while reducing the risk of injury as much possible. This includes determining what safety equipment and safety gear is needed, and how it will be used to prevent the possibility of a fall.[WCx]
OSHA regulations require any worker six feet or higher above the lower level to have “personal fall arrest systems”. In non-government speak, a safety harness or a system of railings around the edges of the work surface to keep the employee protected from the edge and a fall.
In planning the work, the employer should be conscientious to provide the right equipment. Ladders that are too short, scaffolding that has seen better days or worn out safety gear is an invitation to a workers compensation claim. The equipment and gear provided to the employees should be appropriate for the job.
Planning the work with safety in mind and providing the safety equipment and safety gear will not prevent injuries if the employees do not know how to use the equipment and gear correctly.Employers often take it for granted that employees know how to use ladders or scaffolding, but improper use of equipment is the most common reason for accidents. For example: Ladders are frequently used in a dangerous fashion.
Common ladder mistakes include:
Going up or down the ladder facing away from the ladder
Over reaching away from the ladder
“Walking the ladder” (moving the ladder sideways by bouncing up down while on the ladder)
Failure to maintain three point contact (two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot while ascending/descending the ladder)
Not placing the ladder on a level surface
Not securing the ladder (tying it off or bracing so that it cannot move)
Setting a ladder up on scaffolding, or worse, a ladder on a ladder!
Common mistakes with scaffolding include:
Partially planking the scaffolding, instead of fully planked
Not installing the guardrails
Not verify the scaffolding is plumb and level before using it
Not checking the assembly to be sure all proper connections have been made
Climbing over the cross braces
Standing on the guardrails
Reaching outside of the scaffolds
When working at heights of six foot or higher, the most effective “personal fall arrest systems” is a full body harness, a rope-grab lifeline, and connectors. The full body harness uses D-rings to connect the body harness to the rope-grab lifeline. The rope-grab lifeline is securely attached to the roof, scaffolding or other surface that is structurally strong enough to support the employee’s full weight in the event of a fall.
Fall prevention on construction sites will save the employer significantly on the cost of workers compensation insurance, as fall prevention will lower both the frequency of accidents and the severity of the accidents that do happen. By planning the job,providing the right equipment and training the employees on the proper use of it, employers can eliminate most falls, save lives and reduce the number of injuries.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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