3 Tips to Prevent Falls from Heights in the Workplace
Written By: Karl Schramm

Falls are among the top leading causes of injury and death in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2018 there were 320 fatal falls out of 1,008 construction fatalities. Have you considered what you can do to help prevent these workplace injuries? Below are three tips to help prevent fall from heights. 

3 Tips to Prevent Falls from Heights in the Workplace

1. Plan ahead

The first step to help prevent falling from heights is to plan ahead. When planning for a job, be sure to include the costs of the safety equipment that will be used. This could help you decide if a certain job is correct for you on the cost of the safety equipment. The next step would be to determine what tasks would be involved. Make sure you have the proper staff and equipment in place to complete these tasks. Once you decide if a job is correct for you, plan ahead and have all safety equipment ready.  An example would be if there was a roofing job, select fall protection that would be suitable for that type of work, such as a personal fall arrest system (PFAS).         

 2. Provide the right equipment and working conditions 

The second step to help prevent falls from heights is to provide the right equipment and working conditions. When a piece of equipment has had a malfunction, be sure to take the equipment out of use. You should provide the right type of equipment for each specific job you are completing. Do not use one-size-fits-all as a safety approach while working from heights. Having modifiable equipment can help prevent injuries. 

OSHA requires the following fall protection from employers:

  • 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 may include a safety harness and lanyard, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.

Another way to help provide the correct working conditions is to monitor the weather especially while working from heights. Rain and high winds while working from heights can lead to more injuries.   Completing these necessary steps can help prevent falls from heights.

3. Train workers

Before any worker starts working at heights, or uses any safety equipment to help prevent falls from heights, they should be properly trained on the dangers and how to use the equipment. Some examples of proper training guidance are listed below for working with ladders, scaffolds and while on a roof.

Ladder Safety: Employees must be trained to properly use a ladder.

  • Maintain three points of contact
  • Place the ladder on level footing
  • Always face the ladder
  • Secure the ladder by locking the metal braces at the center of the ladder
  • Don’t overreach
  • Don’t walk the ladder

Scaffold Safety: Employees must be trained to safely set up and use scaffolds.

  • During setup: fully plank scaffolds, complete all guardrails, ensure stable footing and make sure all footings are plumb and level
  • Ensure proper access to scaffolds
  • A competent person must inspect the scaffold before use
  • Don’t climb over cross braces
  • Don’t stand on guardrails
  • Don’t use a ladder on a scaffold

Roof Safety: Employees must be trained to avoid fall hazards on a roof and properly use fall protection equipment.

  • Make sure your harness fits and is not defective when using PFAS
  • Always stay connected/tie off
  • Ensure that all anchor points are adequate
  • Protect all holes, openings and skylights
  • Don’t sit or walk on skylights or other openings

For additional information and resources, visit the OSHA  website.

Society Insurance is Here to Protect Your Business 

Falls from heights are one of the most common types of severe injuries that a worker can suffer and they can lead to some of the most serious injuries as well. Protecting your business from these injuries should be a major goal for each business. Make sure you plan ahead, provide the right equipment and working conditions and train your employees thoroughly.

For further training and safety information visit our Risk Control Library or talk to your local Society agent.

Additional Resources

Author

Karl has a bachelor’s degree in insurance from Illinois State University. He began his career in risk control with Society Insurance in 2020. Previously, he was a workers compensation claimsadjuster for five years. Karl has earned his AIC designation.

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