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Ways to protect construction workers from falls

There are a number of ways to protect construction workers from serious accidents and injuries. Construction worker fall accidents are a significant cause of serious construction worker accidents and injuries. Two types of falls that are common on construction job sites include scaffolding falls and ladder falls from which workers can be better protected.

Approximately 2.3 million construction workers frequently work on scaffolds. By protecting construction workers from accidents involving scaffolds, approximately 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities could be avoided annually. There are a number of ways to protect workers on scaffolds, some of which include ensuring the scaffold is sound and erected on solid footing and able to carry its own weight in addition to four times the maximum load without settling. Employers also should ensure that unstable objects are never used to support the scaffold planks, that scaffolds are properly equipped with guardrails, midrails and toeboards and that scaffolds are properly maintained and inspected.

In addition to scaffolding hazards, ladders are a source of danger to construction workers. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates a total of 24,882 injuries and 36 fatalities each year can be attributed to ladder and stairway falls. In total, half of the injuries were serious enough to require time away from work. Construction workers can be better protected from ladder falls by using the correct ladder for the task at hand, properly inspecting ladders before use, properly maintaining ladders on the job site, never overloading ladders, and ensuring ladders are properly rated for the weight of the user.

There are a number of safety precautions that can help keep construction workers safe on the job; nevertheless, when a worker has been injured, there are also different resources and legal options available to ensure that the worker is properly protected following an accident or injury.

Source: United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Worker Safety Series, Construction," accessed June 9, 2015

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