Falls are a hazard found in many work settings. A fall can occur during walking or climbing a ladder to change a light fixture, or as a result of a complex series of events affecting an ironworker 80 feet above the ground.
According to recent fatal injury statistics (BLS.gov), there are more than 600 fatal falls annually. Many workers may be surprised to hear that about 2 out of every 3 falls are from less than 20 feet high. Workers should be very aware of their work at any height.
Particularly at risk of fall injuries are those working in:
- Healthcare support
- Building cleaning and maintenance
- Transportation and material moving
- Construction and extraction occupations
OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(1) Unprotected sides and edges. 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...
When holding your safety meetings about fall prevention, make sure these points are emphasized.
- Never work near unprotected skylights, sides, or edges.
- Supervisors and workers should perform a walk-around inspection of their site before starting work to find any possible fall hazards.
- All workers using man lifts such as telescopic boom lifts or other types of aerial lifts should have training prior to use.
- Fall protection, as required by the manufacturer of the lift, must be worn when working on articulating and extensible boom lifts to avoid being thrown out of the basket of the lift.
- Workers need fall protection when working near any unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level.
- All workers need to have training to recognize and avoid potential fall hazards.
- Never stand on the top step of a ladder.
- Always face the ladder when climbing up or down the ladder and working.
OSHA Standard 1926.1053(b)(13) The top or top step of a stepladder shall not be used as a step.