Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the workplace. In 2020, falling from heights was the leading cause of death in the construction industry with 351 fatalities. Injuries from these incidents can range from minor bruising to lacerations to severe injuries such as head trauma and dislocation. Employers can pay an enormous amount for slips, trips, and falls, with costs ranging from $30,487 for a sprain injury to $75,190 for a dislocation. Employees and employers can avoid fatalities by simple measures such as checking equipment, wearing proper footwear, and avoiding distractions. Employers should also make a point of creating a safe workplace atmosphere for their workers.
Plan Ahead of a Project
It is employers’ responsibility to plan projects so that employees work safely from heights. Determine how the project will be completed, what jobs will be involved, and what safety equipment may be necessary. A discussion of job tasks with employees is critical, as this ensures that they have adequate training to perform the tasks at hand. Besides planning and training, employers should also ensure that workers have access to proper fall protection equipment. This includes guardrails, safety harnesses and lanyards, and other equipment designed to prevent falls from heights.
Inspect the Project Site
Reviewing the project site for any safety hazards is an essential part of keeping your employees safe and healthy while they are at work. Staff should know any hazards in the workplace and how to avoid them. For instance, check to see if the pavement outside or the flooring of the project site has any cracks or holes. Place warning signs in, on, or near the hazards and remedy them as soon as possible. A guardrail and toe boards are required on machinery or equipment where employees are at risk of falling into dangerous machinery or equipment.
Check the Weather
Doing any work, especially construction work, can be dangerous, especially if your employees are working on a roof or in a high-rise building. Make sure the area where you plan to set up any equipment for your construction project is level. It is also a good idea to check the weather forecast before working outdoors. Work-related activities should not be carried out during inclement weather.
Examine Safety Equipment
Safety harnesses, nets, handrails, and stair railings may be needed depending on the job tasks. Check all equipment thoroughly before using it and never use old or damaged equipment. For instance, stepladders and ladders should have a locking mechanism to prevent the front and back from closing. Make sure that all workers have the right footwear for their job. Shoes with rubber soles provide a better grip than leather ones do. If you plan to work outdoors for long hours during cold temperatures, be sure to let workers know to wear thick socks and thermal undergarments to keep their bodies warm. You can have workers use safety nets, harnesses, and other fall protection gear when working at heights. Harnesses are designed to keep your body close to the structure while still allowing you enough room for movement so that you don’t slip off easily.
Provide Ongoing Safety Training
Keeping employees safe and preventing serious accidents requires regular meetings about on-site safety. Frequent site safety meetings allow workers to learn crucial safety procedures and ask questions as well as provide comments. These meetings also provide an opportunity to identify any potential hazards in your workplace so they can be eliminated before they become issues.
Fall prevention meetings should include the following topics:
- How to deal with slippery floors or other hazards that can cause falls.
- The best way to get out of a dangerous situation when someone slips or trips in the workplace.
- How to avoid falls by using equipment correctly and safely, including ladders and scaffolds.
Keep Walking Surfaces Clean and Free of Clutter
Clear paths reduce the risk of employees tripping over unexpected objects and slipping and falling. A common obstruction for employees is power, internet, and phone cords. Make sure that wires are hidden behind walls or under non-skid rugs. Organize supplies so they are easily accessible without creating a safety hazard or tripping hazard for employees. If possible, place supplies in bins or shelving units so they are easy to reach and can be stored out of the way when not needed.
Have Proper Lighting
There is a tendency for darkness or shadows to conceal steps or other hazards. Lighting must be sufficient in dark areas where employees work to avoid trips and falls, especially when carrying heavy tools or parts of machines. A properly lit area with spotlights or illuminated steps can reduce the chances of an employee slipping or falling.
Remember Slips and Falls are Preventable
Most slip and fall accidents can be avoided by reviewing your job site and ensuring everyone has safety equipment. The key to spotting potential problems in the workplace is to regularly assess it. Taking proactive steps to prevent dangers will help you keep your employees safe.