Fall Awareness on Construction Sites

Falls from heights are the leading cause of construction deaths. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 there were close to 800 construction deaths and almost 300 of those were fall fatalities. Here’s more information about fall awareness on construction sites.

While working at height is a necessary part of construction work, it is also extremely dangerous. Using the correct type of equipment and minimizing the distance and consequences of falls are important ways to prevent injury and death.

If you or your employees will be working at height, there are important things to remember:

While working at height NEVER:

  • Overload ladders
  • Overreach on ladders or stepladders
  • Rest a ladder against a weak structure
  • Use ladders or stepladders for heavy tasks
  • Use ladders for more than 30 minutes at a time
  • Use ladders for especially heavy tasks
  • Allow inexperienced or untrained workers to work on ladders or at height

While working at height ALWAYS:

  • Ensure that there is a safe path to and from the height at which work must be performed
  • Make sure all equipment is stable and strong
  • Keep equipment properly maintained and check it on a regular basis
  • Avoid work on or near fragile surfaces
  • Provide personal protective equipment and other protection from falling objects
  • Have an emergency plan in place, including those for rescue and evacuation

In an effort to keep workers safe at heights, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) to raise awareness of fall hazards when working on structures such as ladders, scaffolds, and roofs. This campaign emphasizes the following three steps:

Employers must decide ahead of time how a specific job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment will be needed. Employers also need to plan to have all necessary equipment (including safety equipment) and tools at the construction site.

To protect workers who are six feet or more above lower levels, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job. This equipment includes ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. It is important for employers to provide the specific type of ladders and scaffolds appropriate for each job.

When workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment, falls can be prevented. Workers need to be trained on the specific piece or pieces of equipment they will be using.