The construction industry is rife with worksite accidents. The ever-changing work environments, towering heights, heavy equipment, and a number of other critical factors make safety a great concern at construction sites. In a recent CPWR survey, it was found that individuals working for subcontractors at the time of a fall are 2.7 times more likely to die than others who are employed by a general contractor.

According to The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), worker falls at job sites are the major cause of job site death among construction workers. Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations for fall standard violations to employers, with a higher frequency than any other standard for the ninth consecutive fiscal year. 

What Causes Job Site Falls?

A number of factors contribute to accidents at construction sites. Workers can fall from different hotspots, such as ladders (when they’re faulty or misused), roofs, scaffolding, roof openings, etc. Electrical cords or exposed rebar can also lead to falls. But there are offsite factors that play a serious role in saving the life of workers at a construction site. 

About 48.8% of the workers interviewed in the CPWR survey said that the victims had no fall protection at the time of the fall. CPWR found that ensuring fall protection use is related to the employer’s policy and enforcement. Jessica Bunting, CPWR’s director of research to practice noted that if the construction company enforces fall protection, workers are more likely to use it. 

Also, a lack of planning is associated with a lower likelihood of workers using fall protection. Aside from employers not providing fall protection and employees not using available fall protection, other factors that are likely to cause falls at construction sites are:

  • Insufficient or ineffective planning 
  • Improper use of fall protection 
  • Lack of relevant training 
  • Improper use of access equipment 
  • Failure of a walking/working surface 

This stat is worrisome and calls on both employers and employees to take safety at job sites more seriously. Not only does job site death lead to the death of workers, but it also causes the company its corporate image and brings about unprecedented expenditure. 

Here are important safety tips that employers and employees can adopt to prevent falls at a construction site.

Preventing Falls on Construction Site

Provision and Use of Proper Safety Equipment 

The first and most important point in ensuring workers’ safety at the construction site is providing adequate safety equipment. This includes hard helmets, protective eyeglasses, safety gloves, safety boots, high-visibility vests, safety eyewear, safety harness, hearing protection, etc., which are some of the personal protective equipment that workers should wear at all times while on the job.

Important equipment that is used daily, such as ladders must be safe and up to code. A huge number of falls on construction sites are from bad or improperly positioned ladders. This can be prevented by inspecting the ladders and ensuring that they are safe for use at all times. When it comes to preventing falls from ladders, some additional precautions that employees can take are:

  • Inspect ladders for cracks and defects before each use
  • Ladders should be positioned safely to prevent accidents
  • Use strong support to secure the side rails of ladders
  • Tools should be carried in a belt or using a rope to raise them.
  • Never use the top three rungs or the top two steps of the ladder.
  • An employee should always be on the ground to monitor the ladder and the workers using it.

Employee Safety Training

Employers can drastically reduce incidences of falls at construction sites by providing adequate safety and work site training to new employees. Employees must understand the causes of falls, why they should use employee fall protection, and wear protective gear at all times on the site. To help them better understand the implications of poor safety practices, employers should consider using audio and visual presentations during training. 

All employees, including new hires, must be thoroughly briefed on the company’s safety policies, procedures, and requirements as included in your safety plan. This training should be requested as often as possible to help employees stay reminded of them. They should also provide a guide to employees, explaining what steps they should take after a fall occurs or how to get immediate medical attention for an injured worker.

Ensuring the Work Space is Safe

A huge part of safety responsibility lies with the employer. Employers must ensure that the workspace is secure and up to accepted standards at all times. Dangerous obstructions must be removed from the work site to reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring. In addition to this, workers must be made to wear a safety harness when necessary. 

A safety harness can be the difference between preventing a fatal fall and a worker losing his life in a fall. Mandarin the wearing of safety harnesses, employers can make their workplace safer. There should be allowance for free movement of workers and machines for seamless flow of traffic on the work site. Unprotected openings, sharp edges, slippery floors, and holes are common danger spots you’ll find on construction sites. Care must be taken to remove all such threats from the site. 

As an additional protective measure, workers can use protective features like guardrail systems, safety net systems, or all arrest systems, when they are exposed to falls from high levels (especially six feet above lower levels). 

Routine Worksite Inspections

Ideally, before work begins each day, the entire workspace should be inspected by the site manager or other qualified personnel. All machines, tools, and protective equipment at the construction site should be inspected and verified to be in the best conditions before work resumes. 

Electrical tools and machines should be checked and properly grounded. Scaffoldings and ladders should be checked as well, with a focus on their capacity to serve their intended use. Workers should be mandated to examine their personal protection equipment before wearing them. It’s also important to note that each work site has its own peculiar safety requirement, and these must all be taken into consideration. 

Wrapping Up

To ensure up-to-date protection of workers at construction sites, employers can make reference to OSHA’s standard requirements for fall protection at heights over six feet in the construction industry.

To avoid OSHA citations, it is in the best interest of employers (including employees) to ensure the safety of all site workers. Companies hiring new staff, especially candidates with little or no prior experience on construction sites must pay particular attention to adequate safety training. 

If you are an employer in the construction industry and need help hiring qualified talents with requisite safety training and on-site safety experience, feel free to reach out to us at TradeLink Solution.

TradeLink Solution is a construction-focused staffing company specializing in residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and sustainable energy candidates for direct placement. For more than 15 years, we have consistently helped our client companies find suitable possibilities, connecting them to the perfect company.
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