Construction is among the most dangerous industries and in recent years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there are more than 800 fatal on-the-job injuries to construction workers annually - more than any other single industry.
Fall hazards can be found in a variety of work activities, including:
- Working from ladders
- Work on rooftops, near skylights, or floor holes
- Working near excavations or pier holes
- Working on scaffolding, scissor lifts or boom lifts
- Using make-shift platforms or scaffold-like surfaces including buckets
- Inside of attics or overhead crawlspaces
- During road construction on bridges or overpasses
OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(1) states that Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Fall hazards and fall prevention must be a part of your annual workplace safety training program and while you may have a longer OSHA annual compliance training component in your training plan, it is still a good idea to have a safety meeting on fall protection and fall hazards identification at least quarterly. During these fall hazards safety meetings, make sure to incorporate these important points.
- Workers must recognize possible fall hazards, especially when working at heights above 6-feet from a lower level. In general construction activities fall protection is required when working at heights above 6-feet from a lower level.
- If unprotected sides and edges exist, a guardrail may be an option to prevent fall hazards.
- Workers should never be exposed to a fall hazard without proper fall protection in place.
- Fall hazards at ground level must be protected.
- Barricades, temporary barriers, and warning lines may help alert workers to possible hazards.
- Danger, warning, and caution signs must be used properly to warn workers of possible hazards.
- When working on scaffolds, employees must have fall protection such as guardrails installed when they are more than 10-feet above a lower level.
OSHA Standard 1926.451(g)(1) states that Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet (3.1 m) above a lower level shall be protected from falling to that lower level.