Solving the Crime of the Construction Site Killer
Construction Worker Fall Prevention
Every construction job comes with the risk of injury or death, which is why safety is one of the most important topics that should be discussed on a continuous basis. Based on the latest available reports from OSHA, in 2013, there were around 88 construction worker fatalities per week, on average. With advances in safety training and a focus on safe daily work habits throughout the industry, the numbers of fatalities have significantly decreased within the last decade. But for the fatalies and accidents that remain, we must not lose sight that the majority of these incidents could have been prevented and take action to eliminate them completely.
Falls are the number one killer on construction sites, accounting for 36.5% of all construction deaths. And, the number one most frequently cited violation of OSHA standards in 2013, was fall protection safety. Every injury or death is preventable, and these common violations, that are easily managed with the use of proper fall protection equipment, should not continue to be a common occurrence.
A common myth that many workers believe is that you have to fall from a large distance to sustain injury or death. The truth is, injuries and fatalities can occur at any height, especially if a head injury results.
Earlier this year, Consolidated conducted its own on-site “National Stand-Down Training to Prevent Falls in Construction” using OSHA’s Safety Stand-Down curriculum. At our Werner Electric construction site in Grand Chute, approximately two dozen workers from Consolidated and its subcontractors participated in a morning of activities to discuss OSHA’s startling fall-related statistics, prevention of falls using safety equipment, and train workers on inspection of equipment, rescue plans, and job-specific hazards.
The number of participants in this nationwide campaign surpassed OSHA’s expectations, and over a million workers across the country have participated in the event. The fall prevention campaign began two years ago, and will continue for years to come in hopes of reducing the number of falls.
“On every level, the participants gained some knowledge from reiterating this information,” said John Meulemans, Safety Manager at Consolidated Construction. “It was eye-opening for the newer guys, but our veteran workers received just as much, if not more, benefit from hearing these statistics and consequences again. It brought it back to the forefront. They will be approaching every elevated job with more procedure and caution.”
Key tips to prevent falls:
- Use cones & warning signs to alert everyone of hazards on site
- Utilize ladders properly, inspect condition, and ensure they are secured in place
- Bad accidents are related to bad housekeeping; ensure a clean work zone
- Supervisor Checklist
- Conduct toolbox talks with construction staff often!
- More tips provided by OSHA
John Meulemans is Consolidated’s full-time Safety Manager, developing and directing the company’s safety and preparedness program. He regularly conducts site safety audits and safety training, facilitates staff accreditations in safety, and manages safety records and reporting. He has been with Consolidated Construction since 1993 and is an active member of the Associated Builders and Contractors Safety Committee.