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5 Safety Tips to Prevent Falls in Construction

5 Safety Tips to Prevent Falls in Construction

Accounting for more than a third of all deaths in the industry, falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction. Most upsetting is the fact that these deaths are preventable. Construction workers are often required to work from roofs, scaffolds and ladders, which are where most fatal falls occur. To make sure that more construction workers make it home safely every night, it’s crucial that the industry take a stand to prevent falls in construction by reinforcing the importance of fall prevention education.

Gray Construction is proud to join OSHA in its second annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, May 4-15, to raise awareness on fall hazards and prevention in construction. A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. 

In recognition of this week’s Safety Stand-Down, here are 5 tips to prevent falls on construction sites:

1) Think about your site conditions

Often times, construction workers do not consider slips and trips to be “falls,” but they are included under the fall category of the Focus Four Hazards. In fact, back, neck, ankle and knee injuries, which can be brought on by slips and trips, account for the greatest number of lost time cases in the construction industry.

When walking around a site, remember to keep slips and trips in mind.

  • Ask yourself, “How does the housekeeping look?” “Is there a change in elevation from grade to slab?”
  • Remember that OSHA requires a step or stair when employees are required to step up or down more than 19 inches.
  • Know that muddy conditions can also lead to many issues. Consider putting down rock, or routing team members around especially muddy areas. 

Paying attention to these minor details could be the difference between a zero-incident day on the job and a serious injury.

2) Plan your work

With the construction industry’s hectic pace, it’s easy to get caught up on schedules and push planning by the wayside. Planning your work is not only critical to ensuring the success of a project though, it helps minimize safety hazards. By looking at what type of work will be conducted, the types of tasks and tools that will be involved, and accessing the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), workers can better prepare for the workday ahead. Additionally, when estimating the cost of a job, employers should always include safety equipment and plan to have all necessary tools and equipment at the jobsite.

3) Use the right equipment for the right jobs

It is extremely important to choose the right equipment for the right jobs. With so many types of fall protection equipment available for workers, it can be difficult to determine which is best to use for which job. When used properly, beamers, retractables, rope-grabs, beam straps, butterfly anchors, concrete plunger anchors and retractable lanyards can all save lives. However, if the right equipment is not selected for the right task, not only could it not prevent a fatality, it could be a contributing factor.

4) Remember that training is key

Rarely does OSHA issue just one citation for a fall protection violation— it is almost always at least two. Employers are often cited for lack of training in addition to a witnessed violation. Providing your employees with the right equipment is simply not enough. You must train them on the proper use of the equipment including its limitations, how to care for it and when it is needed.

5) Plan. Provide. Train. 

Remembering these three steps can make protecting your employees from falls much easier. Plan ahead to get the job done safely and efficiently. Make sure your company is using engineering controls and work rules for protection when possible. When that’s not possible, make sure only the most effective PPE is used. Once you’ve planned the appropriate PPE, provide it to your employees. Before providing employees with the appropriate PPE though, make sure to train them on how to use it properly, including its limitations.

To learn more about the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, visit the campaign’s website, or contact Bill Carey, Manager, Safety at bcarey@gray.com