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Fall Protection in Construction

It’s a sad fact that the construction industry is a dangerous one. If the proper steps aren’t taken to ensure workers safety, the risk of injury or fatality is high. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claims 46 hundred construction workers were killed on the job in 2011, which is third lowest annual total in the two decades since the fatal injury census started. The worst thing about this fact is every onsite injury is preventable.

“Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths,” according to OSHA’s fall protection page. “Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.”

Overhead platforms, elevated work stations, and holes in the floor and walls all pose hazards for workers, and it’s the responsibility of employers to make sure that precautions have been taken to keep workers safe. Once a workers height reaches four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry or eight feet in long shoring operations, OSHA mandates that fall protection measure are taken. This also applies to workers that are above dangerous equipment. Here are employer requirements to prevent falls and other injuries:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety and harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
  • Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
  • Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
  • Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.

There are a lot of things for employers to keep track of, but keeping up with OSHA’s high standards is the best way for construction companies to keep their workers safe. These construction dangers can be limited if employers take proactive steps to provide for the safety of their employees. We at Metro Hydraulic encourage you to do your part to make sure your work environment is on par with these regulations. Tweet @MetroHydraulic and tell us your safety stories today!

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