How Can Falls Be Prevented in the Workplace?

Stout Law Firm March 10, 2017

Protecting workers from falls is one crucial matter that employers must be aware of to ensure workplace safety, especially those in the construction industry. Other industries that must take particular care when it comes to fall prevention are healthcare support, building maintenance and cleaning, transportation, and those who move materials.

Fall injuries can be costly and burdensome. The National Safety Council reports that every year in the U.S., the worker's compensation and medical costs that come with occupational falls are around $70 billion. Workers also miss days of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2014, over 260,000 workers, both from the private industry as well as state and local government, missed one or more work days because of fall injuries, and close to 800 workers died.

In order to help prevent these injuries and fatalities, OSHA recommends having a three-pronged solution: Plan. Provide. Train.

Plan ahead

If workers have work to do on roofs or scaffolding, or using ladders, it's important to plan ahead to make sure that the job is done safely. Employees need to know how the job will get done by breaking the job down to individual tasks. Think about all the possible falls that could occur and then identify the safety equipment that is needed for each task. The CDC lists the following circumstances under which falls may occur in a work environment:

  • Slippery, cluttered, or unstable walking/working surfaces

  • Unprotected edges

  • Floor holes and wall openings

  • Precariously positioned ladders

  • Improperly used fall protection

Provide the proper equipment

Workers can sustain serious injuries or die when they fall from a height of six feet or higher. So, depending on the height of the job or task, employers need to provide the proper scaffolding, ladders, and safety gear, such as a personal fall arrest system (PFAS), to help prevent falls. Employers should also perform regular inspections on all equipment to ensure it's still safe to use and in proper condition.

Train workers on fall safety prevention

You can have the right equipment, but if workers don't know how to use it correctly, then fall injuries can still happen. Workers need to be trained on how to use scaffolding, ladders, and all equipment, both fall protection and other kinds.

Hazards in the workplace increase the risk of accidents and injuries. This is why it is crucial to have proper training and equipment to prevent workplace accidents. Workers who believe hazards are not being fixed at work should contact OSHA and consider speaking to an attorney if they need any legal advice.