Construction Falls: Understanding And Ensuring Safety
By. Thomas M Hester
Falls from height (FFH) are the leading causes of serious and fatal injuries for construction workers. Almost all of these injuries and fatalities were preventable. There are many different factors that increase the risk of FFH injuries. Getting a understanding of these issues is key to preventing FFH injuries. As a result of identifying the types of hazards and learning how to safely address these hazards on your current jobs will allow you to get lower rates on General Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation Insurance.
Obtaining an understanding of these issues involved with FFH injuries will allow you to operate your business with greater efficiency. By preventing these accidents your employee morale will be greater. You will protect your business from costly lawsuits. Finally the amount you pay for your business insurance, especially workers compensation will be significantly lower than your competitors who do not follow these safety guidelines. The upside to all of this is that you should be able to offer your customers a lower price than your competitors thereby allowing you to successfully bid and win more jobs.
In this report we examine the causes involved in FFH accidents. We will also explore a variety of ways to prevent FFH Injuries. As the construction industry has grown in the last few decades so has the numbers of workers injured or killed in FFH accidents. Even with other improvements in worker safety and stricter industry regulations these injuries continue you to increase at an alarming rate. To put some numbers to this statement FFH are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. An average of 362 fatal falls occurred each year from 1995 to 1999. As stated before these rates are on the rise.
Plan. Provide. Train
To help reduce fall-related fatalities, OSHA advises employers to “Plan. Provide. Train.”
When working with ladders, workers should;
1. Know how to maintain three points of contact,
2. Keep the ladder on a Smooth, secure and level surface,
3. Secure the ladder by locking its braces and
4. Not attempting to overreach when standing on the rungs.
Top 4 hazards that cause FFH injuries
The following hazards cause the most fall-related injuries:
1. Unprotected Sides, Wall Openings, and Floor Holes.
These items are extremely dangerous. Guardrails must be place around the hazard area. There are very specific and technical requirements concerning the placement of guard rail systems.
Where workers on a construction site are exposed to vertical drops of 6 feet or more, OSHA requires that employers provide fall protection in one of three ways before work begins:
a. Guardrail Systems
b. Personal Fall Arrest Systems
3. Unguarded Protruding Steel Rebars
Unguarded protruding steel reinforcing bars are hazardous. Even if you just stumble onto an unguarded rebar you can impale yourself, resulting in serious internal injuries or death.
How Do I Avoid Hazards?
4. Misuse of Portable Ladders
You risk falling if portable ladders are not safely positioned each time they are used. While you are on a ladder, it may move and slip from its supports. You can also lose your balance while getting on or off an unsteady ladder. Falls from ladders can cause injuries ranging from sprains to death. To reduce the risk of these hazards:
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT FFH
It is abundantly clear as stated above the FFH injuries are clearly avoidable in almost all circumstances.
With proper planning upon starting a project that requires employees working from height the amount of mishaps will decrease. Finally ensuring that your employees are given the appropriate safety equipment and given the necessary training and instruction on how to properly use the equipment FFH accidents should be greatly reduced.
By following these straight forward guidelines you will be able to operate your business in a more efficient manner. This will reduce the amount of premium yo pay for your General Liability insurance and more importantly greatly reduce the amount of premium you will pay on your workers compensation insurance. As a result of operating in this manner you should be able to offer your clients lower prices than your competitors who fail to follow these guidelines.