Falls are still the number one reason workers get hurt or die on the job. In 2014, a person died every day due to a fall. The most frequent reasons for falls are: slipping on walk surfaces and ladder rungs; tripping over clutter in walk areas; and inappropriate use of ladders.
It’s easy to spot and fix these hazards, but first we must perceive these conditions as safety hazards. If we continue to ignore them, workers will continue to get hurt.
Slipping, Tripping and Jumping
Here is a recently reported list of preventable accidents:
- A worker slipped on the muddy floor of an equipment cab and fell into the control levers. He suffered bruised and fractured ribs.
- A worker slipped off the rung of a ladder while attempting to get off a large excavating machine. He fell more than four feet to the ground, spraining an ankle and breaking a wrist bone on impact.
- While off-loading pipe from a flatbed truck trailer, a worker stepped on a piece of unsecured pipe. The pipe rolled under his foot, and he fell off the truck bed, twisting an ankle and breaking an arm.
- A worker jumped from an excavator cab five feet to the ground below. He severely injured his knee on impact.
- A worker stepped on a piece of rebar, which rolled under his foot, causing severe bending and strain on the ankle.
If you pay attention to work area conditions and engage in preventative behavior, you can keep accidents like these from happening.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics evaluated 1,400 ladder accidents and found:
- Fifty-seven percent of the victims in the study were holding objects with one or both hands while climbing or descending the ladder.
- Thirty percent had wet, greasy or oily shoes.
- In 53 percent of the cases, workers had not properly secured or braced the bottom of straight ladders, and in 61 percent, the ladders were unsecured at the top.
- In 66 percent of the cases, the accident victims never received training to inspect ladders for defects before using them.
These findings clearly indicate that it’s important to focus on safe climbing techniques. Don’t carry objects while climbing. Keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Don’t climb with wet, muddy, greasy or oily shoes, and inspect your ladder.
It’s up to each of us to do our part to eliminate falls, put an end to the injuries and reduce fatalities. No one wants to lose a worker per day to falls. Let’s work together to eliminate that statistic.