Falls account for one-third of on-the-job injuries, according to a report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In the construction industry, falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolding are the top cause of construction fatalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that falls from elevation accounted for 370 of the 991 fatalities recorded in the construction industry in 2016.
NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training has partnered to raise awareness and increase training in the construction industry to increase safety measures and decrease the number of injuries and deaths that result from falls.
“Rather than taking an approach that says, ‘This is what the workers should do,’ the real aim is to get information to contractors and site managers. They’re the ones that have to provide the equipment, to train the workers on what to do, and then to make certain that the workers actually use the fall protection apparatus,” say Christine Branche, principal associate director of NIOSH, in an interview about the safety campaign.
Safety Is A Team Effort
A national Safety Stand-Down is scheduled for May 7-11 – a full work week in which employers are asked to speak directly with employees about safety and reinforce the importance of fall prevention techniques. Among the safety campaign’s main messages:
Before starting each new job, contractors and workers should plan together to work safely at heights.
Contractors must provide the right equipment for working at heights, and workers need to use that equipment.
Contractors and workers need to be trained to use the equipment and to work safely.
It is right to place responsibility on contractors to provide the proper safety equipment and training that will help prevent construction site injuries and deaths. Some contractors do a better job of this than others.
A contractor that does not provide proper safety equipment and training, or that puts employees in perilous situations unnecessarily, may be held accountable for serious injuries and fatalities that occur on its watch.