More construction workers die from falls than any other reason. Three-hundred-twenty of the 1,008 people who died while working in construction in 2018, fell to their death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says these deaths could have been prevented.
For every person who dies due to a fall, many more escape with injuries. OSHA has a three-point system to reduce the risks of working at height: Plan, prepare and train.
- Planning: An employer must consider all the situations where working above ground may be required when they bid for a job. Providing the necessary safety may increase the project cost, but employers need to include it in their quote. Otherwise, workers and their families could pay the price.
- Preparing: Everything must be in place for the job. If you need someone on the roof on Friday, make sure the appropriate equipment is there beforehand. It removes the temptation to skip safety to comply with deadlines. Preparing also means making the work area safe before people enter. If a worker needs to be close to overhead electricity cables, ensure you have arranged for the electricity board to turn off the power in advance.
- Training: Having the right equipment is one thing; knowing how to use it is another.
Next time you are required to work at height on a construction site, consider if your employer has taken these three steps. If they have not, you are at a higher risk of falling. While your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover you if you get injured, it is best to avoid injury in the first place.