One in five worker deaths last year were in construction with more than 100,000 injuries occurring as a result of work-related falls. According to OSHA, the most frequently sited workplace safety violation is failure to provide fall protection. Scaffolding accidents are among the most common in the construction industry.
Take a look at the photo of the man working on the scaffolding.
Do you find anything wrong with this picture?
This man is in a very dangerous situation. The odds are not in his favor when it comes to preventing a terrible accident. To keep this worker safe, he needs to be wearing fall protection. This worker should have been provided a safety harness from his employer.
Falls are still occurring too frequently and although we know fall protection is available, it is often overlooked and this is when injuries can occur.
Recently, two men were seriously injured when they fell off the scaffolding they were working on at a Cape Cod residence. The two men, who were working for a local roofing and siding company, were injured when the scaffolding shifted and they fell. Both suffered serious injuries. Both were taken to the hospital with one sustaining a potentially life-threatening head injury and the other with a less serious injury. It was reported that OSHA agents were on the scene after the accident along with a town building inspector.
Improper scaffolding practices are the #3 OSHA violation, with 5,423 citations given just three years ago, in 2013. In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. According to OSHA, 2.3 million people operate on scaffolds as part of their job. That’s 65% of the construction industry. Out of these workers, 4,500 will suffer an injury every year and approximately 60 will be fatal. The most shocking statistic of all is that 72% of these accidents occur as a result of deficient platforms and falling.
In addition to the countless injuries and deaths that are a result of improper scaffolding, businesses lose billions of dollars each year from the significant increases in insurance premiums, worker’s compensation claims, product liability costs, and other related expenses.
Falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment, so they need training on the specific equipment they will use to complete the job. Employers must train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use of ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they'll be using on the job.
Here are some tips you should know about fall protective equipment:
- Inspect your equipment before each use.
- Replace defective equipment. If there is any doubt about the safety of the equipment, do not use it and refer questionable defects to your supervisor.
- Replace any equipment, including ropes, involved in a fall. Refer any questionable defects to your supervisor or check with the manufacturer.
- Every piece of fall arrest equipment should be inspected and certified at least yearly or more often by a trained and competent person. Keep written records of inspections and approvals.
- It is advisable to use energy absorbers if the arresting forces of the lanyard alone can cause injury.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about:
- the purpose of the device,
- hazard warnings,
- instructions and limitations on use,
- the stretch distance of the harness,
- instructions for fitting and adjusting,
- recommendations for care (cleaning, maintenance, and storage) and inspection,
- the purpose and function of the fall arrest indicator,
- a warning if a fall occurs or inspection reveals an unsafe condition that the device be taken out of service until it has been determined safe for use or destroyed, and
- instructions for proper application, use, and connecting to full body harness of any evacuation device.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers should:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
- Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
OSHA requires employers to:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
Arbill is committed to ensuring workers go home safely after every shift. We offer high quality fall protection equipment and fall protection training to keep your employees safe and help reduce your safety spend.
Schedule a consultation with one of our safety experts today to evaluate your safety hazards and challenges, plan for your safety equipment needs in a cost effective way and determine training and education needs.
Have a Safe Day!