Annual research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that the year 2010 saw about 5,701 construction work injuries through all fields, including construction of residential and non-residential buildings. The BLS also reports that Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that saw an increase in workplace accidents from 2009 to 2010. From year to year, one of the most consistent causes of construction worker injuries and fatalities has been falling from roofs, scaffolding, ladders, or other equipment.
The 2010 study revealed that falling from ladders accounted for 20 percent of fall-related injuries, with falling from a roof being the next largest cause, amounting to 18 percent. With falling being such a serious risk among construction workers, it is important to use the proper precaution to ensure that you and those with whom you work remain safe on the job.
General Fall Prevention:
It is important for construction workers who work high off the ground to make use of fall arrest equipment; most notably, personal fall arrest equipment. Some major components of personal fall arrest equipment include:
Body harnesses: Vest-like gear which attaches to a vertical and/or horizontal lifeline.
Lifelines: Sometimes called webbing, lifelines can be vertical or horizontal, and attach to the worker’s harness to limit free fall distance in the event of an accident.
Guardrails: Like scaffolding, guardrails are erected by workers to allow for no objects to slip through slats and fall to lower levels.
Safety nets: Safety nets should always be used when workers are more than 25 feet above ground.
Preventing Falls from Ladders:
Since the most construction falls are from ladders, it is appropriate to set particular focus on ladder safety. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing and using a ladder for your work:
Inspect the ladder: Check for defects which may indicate structural damage. For example, damaged or missing rungs, damaged or split side rails, and the absence of safety devices.
Clean the ladder: Dirt, mud, or paint could increase chances of slipping or disguise other of the ladder’s deficiencies.
Use the right ladder: Check the length of the ladder to make sure it can hold the weight needed to complete the job.
These are just some tips to stay safe from falling on a construction worksite. For information on scaffolding safety and standards, please see “Scaffolding Accidents Which Lead to Injury,” found on the Carpey Law website. Please the articles on our site for data on construction accidents.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.