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Falls: Number One Cause of Fatalities for Construction Workers

Last week we discussed OSHA's campaign to prevent heat illness among outdoor workers. This week we will touch on another one of OSHA's major initiatives, fall prevention in the construction industry. Many people may be surprised to learn that falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry.

In 2010, over 250 construction workers lost their lives due to falls. This represents roughly a third of all construction industry fatalities. The number of deaths caused by falls is especially troubling because most of these construction accidents are preventable.

Summer is now well underway, and so is the construction season. OSHA is attempting to bring awareness to the hazards of falls from scaffolds, ladders, roofs and other structures. The agency wants to educate workers and employers about what can be done to prevent them by taking a few basic steps.

  • Plan: Plan ahead by considering potential fall hazards. Make sure to budget and arrange for the necessary safety equipment.
  • Provide: Provide the appropriate equipment for the construction job. This includes the correct types of ladders, scaffolds and safety gear for workers.
  • Train: Workers should be trained on how to set-up and use equipment properly, and how to recognize potential fall hazards.

The assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health summarized the campaign, "When working at heights everyone needs to plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment and train workers to use the equipment safely."

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign.

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