The regrettable truth about accidents in the workplace is that far too many of these tragedies are preventable. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the construction industry, where falls are the leading cause of fatalities. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over a third of work-related deaths in construction in 2010 were due to preventable falls.
In an effort to stem the tide of these tragic accidents, OSHA has introduced a fall prevention outreach campaign to call attention to the dangers of workplace falls. The campaign emphasizes three elements critical to preventing avoidable falling injuries:
- Plan. The need to plan ahead before tackling a job requiring working from significant heights is crucial. Planning involves determining how the job’s tasks will be accomplished and, importantly, what equipment will be needed to ensure the safety of the workers completing those tasks.
- Provide. Once the type of equipment necessary for ensuring workers’ safety is determined, the employer must actually make that equipment available to workers. This can include certain types of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear, such as personal fall arrest systems.
- Train. Even the best safety equipment available is useless without the knowledge necessary to use it properly. Employers should train workers both in the use of all equipment and hazard recognition as well, so employees can identify and avoid dangers before they become a safety threat.
By adhering to these three simple guidelines, employers can drastically reduce the occurrence of preventable falls and resulting workers’ compensation claims as well. Avoidable workplace tragedies needn’t plague our workers when workplace safety is made a top priority.