How to prevent falls in the workplace

Falling is a leading cause of death in the workplace.
Falling is a leading cause of death in the workplace.

I spent a good ten years of my career working for a manufacturing firm. Safety was of paramount importance to us and it paid dividends in the form of greatly reduced workers’ comp premiums. It was with interest that I read an announcement from OSHA and I wanted to pass it on to you.

Falls are deadly

In 2014 337 of the 874 construction fatalities recorded were due to falls. That is over 38% of the deaths were due to someone falling. To make workers and employers more aware of this very preventable injury OSHA is sponsoring a National Safety Stand Down during the week of May 2nd to May 6th.  A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. This Stand-Down focuses on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. You can find information on this by reviewing Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful Stand-Down.

Training is key

In their guidance called Welcome to OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign, OSHA says there are three steps to preventing injuries and deaths due to falls. These include:

  • Planning- planning the work is critical. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.
  • Provide the right equipment- Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. (Note: falls are also a leading cause of death and injury at home as well. Being 10 feet up on a ladder is why I hate doing Christmas decorations.)
  • Training- training employees on the proper way to set up ladders and scaffolding is critical. Additionally providing training on how lift equipment and use equipment while up off the ground is very important. How to use any and all safety equipment can save prevent pain and suffering and loss of life.

Set aside time

If you have workers who climb ladders of any sort, even if you are not in the construction business, set aside some time this coming May to review your safety processes and train your employees. I can tell you from experience it is never a pleasant experience having to explain to a family how and why their family member got injured. You can find further information on the Safety Stand Down by going here.

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