As the summer heats up and production schedules fill up, businesses may want to consider taking a few minutes to remind staff who work outdoors about workplace hazards. Falling on the job is one of the most common sources of employee injury and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released recommendations to prevent falls at the worksite.
According to OSHA, falling is categorized as one of the “fatal four” for workplace accidents and was the cause of 35% of construction deaths in 2011. Fall injuries can be caused by improperly built scaffolding, and can occur if employees are standing on unstable ladders or not wearing personal protective gear.
The updated instructions remind employers to check equipment safety and advise workers to stay aware of all potential workplace hazards. Businesses may prevent falls from ladders by checking the equipment for any breakage or bends that reduce the ladder’s structural integrity. In addition, workers may reduce their risk of falling by staying off of the top step, hoisting, not carrying tools when they’re using a ladder and keeping their weight centered between the side rails.
The same principles can be applied to scaffolding. Employers may want to train staff on how to build scaffolding so that it is secure, as an improperly constructed structure can cause falls if it shakes when employees move about. Employers can look into updating the connecting joints within their scaffolding, inspecting all of the elements for curving and ensuring staff understand the importance of not building the structure too high, as scaffolding can sway if its height and weight are not balanced. If there are many projects calling for tall scaffolding, businesses may want to consider investing in equipment that safely can reach large heights.
Due to the high number of workplace accidents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction in 2012 to address the issue and inform employees. The campaign seeks to educate employers about what types of equipment are suitable for working at various heights and how to train workers on staying safe.
Taking time to educate all staff members on ladder basics, scaffolding standards and equipment usage may help businesses prevent fall-related injuries and promote safety this summer.
Check out Ladder Safety, a free video found in CopperPoint Mutual’s SafetyNet page of training films. The video is available to view either English or Spanish and can be found under the Safety tab at copperpoint.com.