Fatal falls are still very common in the construction industry

Feb 26 2016

Our post earlier this week focused on a basic but crucial idea in workplace safety: Employers need to take responsibility for making sure that a work environment is as safe as it can be. This means safety training must be thorough, safety equipment must be administered and employee compliance must be monitored. If any of these factors is missing, the result may be an injurious or fatal accident.

As an example, consider deadly falls. These accidents are almost entirely preventable if safety gear is in place and being used. Yet in 2014, 40 percent of deaths in the construction industry were the result of falls.

Recently, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration completed its investigation into the death of a 53-year-old roofer. In August of last year, the man had been working on a roof when he fell 40 feet to the ground below. OSHA determined that no fall-prevention devices were in place. Common devices include safety nets, guardrails and harnesses.

It’s possible that the company owned such equipment, but it was not being used. OSHA also found that workers hadn’t been trained about fall hazards, there was no safety and health plan developed and there was no safety monitor working at the time. The company now faces fines of nearly $117,000.

It would be comforting to think that this was a rare occurrence and a freak accident. But sadly, this type of scenario is common.

If you work in construction or any other dangerous profession, it is important to take personal responsibility for safety on the job. But it is ultimately up to employers to ensure that safety training is in place, safety equipment is provided and safety monitoring is conducted.