Fall Hazards

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.

Download a recording form here.

Skid-Steer Loader Safety

A critical incident involving the operation of a skid-steer loader happened this past week in Indiana. Fortunately, the incident didn’t result in a fatality – but it could have easily.

Incident Summary

The operator was using a skid-steer loader with an attachment requiring several hydraulic hoses to power various parts. After the machine was in operation for a time, one of the hoses disconnected from the attachment. The operator stopped the machine and exited the cab to disentangle the hose, which had fallen between the attachment and the front tire. Once he freed and reconnected the hose to the attachment, he reentered the cab. As he did, his foot slipped and pressed down on the pedal control of the hydraulic system. This actuated the hydraulics and lifted the attachment suddenly. As the attachment lifted to full height, it crushed the operator in the pinch point between the lifting attachment and the cab structure. The operator sustained severe bruising to the upper body and head, along with deep lacerations to the right arm requiring emergency treatment.


Observers said the operator wasn’t totally familiar with the controls of this particular type of skid-steer loader, and he left the machine running when he exited the cab. An examination of the skid-steer revealed that the seat belt was fastened and pushed to the back of the operator’s seat, and the parking brake wasn’t activated.

Root Causes

No one likes unexpected interruptions when they are focused on getting a job done. Interruptions can make many people feel impatient and aggravated. We typically want to eliminate the distraction and get on with the job as fast as possible. This impatient mind frame causes us to do things without thinking, and sometimes in a way that we might not ordinarily do them. This could lead us to take risks that we normally wouldn’t take – like in this case when the operator left the engine running and didn’t activate the emergency brake. The hydraulics would not have engaged when he slipped on the pedal if the operator had taken these two steps.

Sometimes, workers with years of experience become overconfident in their ability to do a task – even if it’s a task they don’t do regularly. A worker may have operated a variety of machines, but that doesn’t guarantee expertise on every machine, especially newer models with reconfigured controls. New machines and tools are often changed and improved, and workers need to familiarize themselves with the safe and correct operating procedures for each one.