Fatalities related to fall hazards are far too common, particularly in the construction industry, where 351 workers died after falling at construction worksites in 2020, and many more were seriously injured. Falls are the most common cause of death in the construction industry, in part because many of the tasks require employees working from heights.
Fortunately, the hazards can be avoided, and employers can prevent falls with three simple steps.
1. Plan ahead
A little prevention goes a long way. Planning ahead means having the right equipment and ensuring your workers are properly trained.
2. Provide the right equipment
Make sure ladders and scaffolds are in good shape. Make sure you’ve got harnesses and equipment to tie off. Even at low heights, falls can be fatal, so generally, when a worker is working 6 feet or more above the ground, they should be wearing fall protection or have other protective measures in place like guardrails. Some sectors in construction have different fall height requirements that might be different, but as a rule if you protect workers from falls at 6 feet, you are covered.
3.Train everyone to use the equipment safely
Do your workers know when to wear a safety harness? What to look for when inspecting a ladder? Where to tie off fall protection equipment when working on a roof? Addressing these and other safety questions is the goal of our annual Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which we’re hosting this year May 2-6.
We’re joining employers and organizations across the country to raise awareness about the dangers of construction falls and how to prevent them. A safety stand-down is a voluntary event for employers to discuss safety with employees. It’s as simple as scheduling a break to focus on fall hazards and prevention. Anyone can participate, and we hope you will too.
Find planning resources or an event near you at osha.gov/stop-falls-stand-down. We’ve got resources in English and Spanish on how to safely conduct construction work at heights, as well as required protections for workers in various construction-related jobs.
Help us share this lifesaving information and keep workers safe on the job. Follow @OSHA_DOL on Twitter, or the Labor Department on Facebook and Instagram, for facts and updates, and join the conversation online using #StandDown4Safety.
Scott Ketcham is the director of construction at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Follow OSHA on Twitter at @OSHA_DOL.