Slips, Trips and Falls in Construction

Slips, Trips and Falls in Construction

Fatal occupational injuries by selected worker characteristics and selected industry, All U.S., all ownerships, 2014[1]  

Percentage
 

Characteristic
All industries
Construction (code GP1CON)
All industries
Construction (code GP1CON)
% Difference

2014
2014
2014
2014

Total:
4821
933
100%
100%
0%

  Falls slips trips
818
363
17%
39%
22%

      Falls on same level
138
11
3%
1%
2%

      Falls to lower level
660
347
14%
37%
24%

 

[1] According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workplace falls from slips and trips cause numerous injuries to the US workforce. Throughout all U.S. industries, trips, slips and falls to a lower level made up 14% of the fatalities in 2014.

Construction is a demanding industry segment and falls are a constant hazard to its employees. Thirty-seven percent of workplace fatalities in the construction industry were from trips, slips and falls to a lower level. The difference between 37% for construction and 14% for all industry represents the largest percentage disparity in causes of fatalities. The injuries most often (78%) were to the employee’s head or multiple body parts.

When discussing fatality statistics, it is easy to forget that these are employee’s lives and in the construction field 347 employees lost their lives in 2014. Each one of these fatalities resulted in a family tragedy, changing the lives forever of those who knew or loved him or her.

All businesses, especially construction companies should redouble their safety efforts to prevent all possible fatal falls. Falls are usually more severe when an employee falls from one level to the next, and prevention strategies include:

1. Competent persons should carefully select and maintain fall protection railings, netting, and personal fall arrest equipment. Train employees how to inspect, set up and use the equipment; and ensure that the training and usage meets manufacturer’s instructions. Check with manufacturers that fall arrest equipment in use has not been recalled.

2. Use only qualified operators for man-lifts, cranes, forklifts and other elevating equipment. Regularly ensure operators use equipment per manufacturer’s specifications. Do not allow crew-members to ride heavy equipment unless they are in the operator seat or within the railing system.

3. Inspect ladders before each use, and use ladders properly. For instance, use a step ladder only in the open position. Do not use a step ladder leaned against a wall or tree. When using a straight or extension ladder, be sure the ladder extends at least 3 feet above the top edge that it leans against and is tied it off to prevent slipping. Also check to make sure that it is set at the proper angle.

4. Regularly inspect the condition of all scaffold components. Do not allow climbing on cross bracing or working without fall protection (rails or personal fall arrest) and do not use scaffolding with ice or snow on it.

5. Maintain excavations with needed slopes and/or shoring shields and don’t allow anyone in if there is water accumulated or accumulating.

6. Employees on construction sites should wear sturdy work boots with non-slip soles.

7. Securely cover or rail off skylights and holes in floor or deck. Repair floors and walkways to prevent trip-hazards.

8. Take extra precaution on pitched roofs. Avoid elevated work if it can be done at ground level.

9. Be strategic about training to meet requirements and re-train those who demonstrate they don’t understand the subject matter. Document that trainees not only attended training, but that they have a competency applying the concepts.

10. Know and follow or exceed minimum standards as published by governmental standards like OSHA. Top management needs to take a strong lead in insisting established safety protocols are followed. Check that company policies are adequate and ensure that employees are following them. Partners can help management provide third-party documentation of training and site audits as well as assist you in developing a strong written safety policy. Ask United Alliance Services how we can help support your safety program.

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