Falls are one of the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths in construction—yet are very often preventable.
By law, employers must set up their work places to prevent employees from falling off platforms, ladders, and elevated work stations or into holes in floors and walls. The height at which fall protection is required varies by workplace (shops and construction sites) as well as by state regulation.
OSHA also requires that, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working above dangerous equipment and machinery.
To prevent employees from being injured in falls, members need to:
- Ensure ladder safety is part of an effective fall-protection program.
- Guard every floor hole, including skylights, that a worker can accidentally fall through, using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover.
- Provide a guardrail and toe-board around every elevated open-sided platform, floor, or runway.
- Provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and being injured if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machinery or equipment (i.e., a vat of acid or conveyor belt), regardless of height.
- Provide additional fall protection that may be required on certain jobs, including safety harnesses and lines, safety nets, stair railings, and hand rails.
OSHA requires employers to:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas clean and dry.
- Provide required personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language they can understand.
For more information on fall protection, visit the OSHA Fall Protection web page or contact Mike McCullion, SMACNA’s director of market sectors and safety at (703) 995-4027 or firstname.lastname@example.org.