Fall protection and safety is a major concern on construction sites. Whether it’s repairing a roof, building a new home, or constructing the next skyscraper in Nairobi, there are many ways in which workers can become injured. Safety precautions and procedures need to be established to safeguard the lives of your workers — especially when it comes to fall safety.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, 20.5% of the 4,251 worker fatalities in the private sector in 2014 were in construction, and falls are the leading cause of death in construction.
Falls from ladders, scaffolds, roofs, and other elevated workspaces are preventable. Learn how you can prevent these accidents and protect your workers with our 5 safety tips:
Provide proper equipment
Hard hats, protective eyeglasses, safety-toed footwear, and gloves are personal protective equipment that your workers should wear at all times while on the job.
Equipment, such as ladders, that your workers will be using on a daily basis should be safe and up to code. Falls from ladders are all too common on construction sites and can be prevented with the proper inspections and safety practices. Your employees should take the following precautions when using a ladder:
- Inspect ladders for cracked, broken, or defective parts prior to each use.
- Safely position portable ladders so the side rails extend at least three feet above the landing.
- Secure side rails of the ladder at the top to a sturdy support and use a grab device when three-foot extension is not possible.
- When carrying tools, carry them in a belt or consider raising them with a rope.
- Never use the top three rungs, or top two steps of the ladder.
- Have another employee on the ground who can monitor the ladder and worker.
Provide a safe work space
Consider this scenario: Your workers are building a new home and putting the shingles on the roof. Their power cords and tools are being used in the process. One of the workers is walking across the roof, slips on a cord, and tumbles to the edge of the roof. Instead of a fatal fall happening, the worker is saved by the safety harness and lanyard that he is wearing.
By making it mandatory for workers to wear a safety harness, you can promote a safe workspace and prevent fatal injuries. Almost all sites have unprotected openings, sides and edges, or floor holes at some point during construction. If these sides and openings are not protected, injuries from falls or falling objects may result.
Use at least one of the following whenever you are exposed to a fall of six feet or more above a lower level:
- Guardrail systems
- Safety net systems
- Fall arrest systems
A full, fall prevention and safety plan should be created and implemented before any construction begins on your projects.
Train your employees
Falls and falling objects usually result from unstable working surfaces that are not securely positioned.
By training your employees on how to properly use their tools, equipment, and machinery, you will help decrease the risk of injuries. It is also important to train them on the various safety requirements and procedures as included in your safety plan. Audio and visual presentations can be given to educate employees on the importance of fall protection and procedures. In addition, weekly toolbox meetings with management and workers can be scheduled to keep training and communication ongoing about these safety practices. Communication is key to fall prevention!
Inspect site daily
Before the workday begins, the site manager or other qualified personnel should inspect all machines, tools, and protective equipment at the construction site. Extension cords, drop cords, and electrical tools should be checked and properly grounded.
Check scaffoldings and ladders as well to make sure they are secure to climb and use by your workers. Before workers begin their day, examine their personal protection equipment to ensure that it is properly secured, especially if they will be working at high distances.
Clean up site daily
A clean space is a safe space. Cleaning should be an integral duty of your workers and management team. Work areas should be clean and hazard-free at all times and a clean-up of the entire site should happen at the end of each day.
This will help prevent any unexpected accidents due to negligence. For example, if someone falls over debris left around the construction site and is injured, you may be liable to cover costs associated with the injury.