Fall accidents are some of the most frequent workplace accidents, with the construction sector accounting for the highest number of workplace falls in the United States. However, most of these accidents can be prevented by the use of personal fall arrest systems, sturdy equipment, and the promotion of a clutter-free, safe, fall-proof workplace.
According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, there were 605 workplace fall-related fatalities in the United States. An additional 212,760 workers were injured in similar accidents the same year.
Fall Accidents Causes
Workers in myriad industries may be at risk of fall accidents, but the core causes of these accidents remain the same across sectors. These are:
- Slippery floors
- Cluttered floors
- Uncovered openings
- Lack of warning signs near openings
- Unprotected corners
- Lack of guardrails
- Failure to provide personal restraint systems
- Failure to use personal restraint systems
- Improper use of personal restraint systems
- Unsafe ladders
- Unstable walking surfaces
- Broken stairways
- Lack of illumination in stairwells and staircases
Every year, workers’ compensation and medical expenses related to workplace fall accidents cost $70 billion. There is no doubt that those staggering costs alone are a significant incentive for employers to invest in stronger fall prevention programs and strategies in their workplaces.
Many fall accidents can be prevented simply by using the following strategies:
- Wiping spills of liquids and grease as soon as they occur
- Posting warnings signs around openings in the floor or walls, that can pose a possible fall hazard
- Providing personal fall arrest systems for workers working at elevations
- Training workers on using fall arrest systems efficiently and effectively
- Providing guardrails
- Promotion of clutter-free floors
- Providing workers safety ladders and stepladders
- Training workers in safe techniques for climbing up and down a ladder
- Providing good lighting around stairways, staircases, and other areas where falls are likely to occur
- Providing workers sturdy, comfortable and high-traction footwear
Overall, employers can substantially reduce the risk of falls in their workplace by establishing a comprehensive fall prevention program that trains workers to identify fall risks and avoid these, use personal protection gear, and follow all safety rules.