Falls Don’t Discriminate by Industry

A roofing supervisor with 25 years’ experience dies after falling 30 feet through a skylight. There were no skylight screens installed, and the supervisor was not wearing fall protection.

In an unrelated case, a construction laborer falls 75 feet through a temporary wooden platform while performing bridge renovations. He was not wearing fall protection, and no fall protection system was in place.

It’s no secret that falls are a major on-the-job hazard in the construction industry. In 2013, they accounted for 35 percent of construction worker fatalities. Many of those deaths were preventable.

To raise awareness of the potentially serious consequences of falls, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is hosting its National Safety Stand Down from May 4 – May 15. The annual event encourages construction workers to pause during their busy days and talk about the importance of wearing fall protection and following safe work practices.

If you haven’t participated in the Stand Down, Texas Mutual encourages you to visit the website and use the free resources. But remember that you don’t have to be in the construction industry to benefit from the information.

Falls are the second-leading cause of workplace injuries across industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’ve climbed a ladder, used the stairs, stepped off a curb or gotten out of a vehicle today, you have been at risk of becoming a fall statistic.

Here are some general safety tips anyone can follow to keep their feet on solid ground:

  • Learn how to select, set up and use a ladder safely.
  • Practice good housekeeping. That includes cleaning spills up as soon as possible, repairing damaged stairs and leaky faucets, and keeping walkways clear.
  • When climbing stairs, use the handrails, avoid distractions and take one step at a time.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes when working on slick floors, and walk cautiously when wearing high heels, open-toe shoes and shoes with slick soles.
  • Use slip-resistant mats near entryways, dishwashers, refrigerators and sinks.
  • Make sure you can see where you are going when carrying loads.
  • Learn and follow OSHA’s fall protection standards*:
    • Construction – six feet or more
    • General industry – four feet or more
    • Shipyards – five feet or more
    • Longshoring – eight feet or more

*In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

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