Construction sites can be incredibly dangerous, with many opportunities to fall from elevated work platforms into holes in floors or walls or falling after tripping over an object. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falling is one the most common causes of serious injury and death while working on a construction site. In fact, these incidents have historically accounted for about one-third of all construction industry fatalities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, simply falling to a lower level accounted for 12 deaths in New Jersey in 2016. The construction sites might have avoided many of these deaths might had they maintained proper fall protection.
Fall protection laws
OSHA has established guidelines which construction companies and other businesses must follow:
- Using fall protection when workers will be working at six feet or higher above another level
- Using protection at lower than six feet if working around dangerous equipment
- Installing protection on certain areas such as ramps or elevated walkways, on steep roofs, near wall openings and around unprotected edges
- Providing protection where there is a chance for objects to fall onto workers
Types of fall protection
There are many types of adequate fall protection that OSHA either provides or approves of:
- Safety nets
- Personal fall arrest systems
- Warning lines
- Safety monitoring systems
In unique situations, there are exceptions to using the mandatory OSHA systems, in which case it is up to your employer to develop a fall protection plan that meets certain requirements.
Ensure your safety
As a construction site worker, it is up to you to ensure your complete safety while working. If you suspect that your employer has not provided adequate protection around your job site, inform your supervisors of your recommendations. Taking the right precautions to avoid accidents on the job can help you avoid missing work or needing to file a workers’ compensation claim due to injury.