In 2019, OSHA reported that nearly 20% of worker fatalities within the private industry were related to jobs in construction. The following year, the organization stated that fall protection within the construction industry ranked #1 within the top 5 most frequently cited standards above hazard communication, respiratory protection, scaffolding, and ladders (Occupational Safety and Health Organization, n.d.). Considering these alarming statistics, it goes to show that construction companies need to raise the bar substantially when it comes to preventing workplace injuries, specifically those related to falls. Here, we’ll review several steps civil construction companies can take to reduce the risk of falls in the workplace within specific settings and discuss how SR Trident participates in a yearly campaign to raise awareness of this issue.
Falls can occur in a number of places within a worksite; however, most companies generally focus on preventing falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds. Employers should strive to provide year-round training that further educates their employees on how to properly implement a fall protection program, how to wear appropriate fall protection equipment, and how to assess workplace hazards. There should be specific guidelines in place for each location where falls can occur, as each setting has its own unique risks. For example, here are a few recommendations from NIOSH that employees should adhere to when working on roofs, ladders, and scaffolds (NIOSH, 2019):
- Use correct anchorage for fall arrest systems
- Provide a fall arrest system lanyard connection point
- Extend the side rails of the ladder 3 feet above the roof edge
- Inspect ladders regularly and ensure they are in good condition
- Maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder at all times
- Use the NIOSH Ladder Safety App to set the proper ladder angle
- Set up scaffolds per the manufacturer guidelines and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards
- Use guardrails or a fall arrest system when more than 10 feet above a lower level
- Ensure scaffolds are fully planked
While the above recommendations can certainly help companies take a major step forward in regard to maintaining best practices for preventing falls, there are plenty of others to reference and implement from NIOSH’s full guide.
In addition to abiding by NIOSH’s recommendations, one of the best ways companies can educate their employees on the risk of falls is through holding an annual workshop or stand-down event. In 2012, the National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction campaign was established through the NORA Construction Sector Council to raise awareness of fall prevention practices. This campaign provides participating companies and organizations with a wide variety of materials including fact sheets, infographics, training materials, hazard alert cards, and more that can be used as a part of a voluntary event where employers take the time to educate their employees about this sector of safety and have an open conversation with them about their company’s safety policies and goals.
SR Trident participates in this national safety stand-down each year with its employees and reviews topics such as personal fall arrest equipment used on their projects, proper inspection methods, potential fall hazards on the job site, and ladder safety. SR Trident strives to create a culture of safety awareness among its management and employees to eliminate both unsafe work conditions and unsafe work practices. The company firmly believes that everyone benefits from a safe and healthful work environment and that the health and safety of people must never be sacrificed for the attainment of business objectives. As such, SR Trident will proudly continue to host this event each year as a form of continuing education on safety for its employees.
NIOSH . Prevent Construction Falls from Roofs, Ladders, and Scaffolds. By Romano N., Webb S., Moore M., and Lincoln J. Morgantown, WV: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2019-128 (Revised 11/2019),
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). (n.d.). Commonly Used Statistics U.S. Department Of Labor. https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats