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June is National Safety Month! Every week, Neumann Safety Manager James Machamer will share industry insights to promote National Safety Month and help foster a safer work environment. This week’s topic is Slips, Trips, and Falls.

Slips, trips, and falls were the second leading cause of workplace deaths and the third leading cause of workplace injuries resulting in days away from work in 2020. Falls can happen from any height, anywhere, and it’s crucial to always be on the lookout for hazards.

The following statistics show the importance of worksite safety:

  • Slips, trips, and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths (second only to motor vehicles).
  • Construction workers are the most at risk for fatal falls from height–that’s 7x more than the rate of other industries!
  • In 2020, 805 workers died in falls, and 211,640 were injured badly enough to require days off work.

Even though more injuries and fatalities occur from heights, 136 workers (almost 17%) were killed in same-level falls in 2020. Same-level injuries and fatalities occur when:

  • The injury was produced by impact between the injured person and the source of injury without elevation.
  • The injured person’s movement produced the injury.
  • The person’s motion was generated by gravity following the individual’s loss of equilibrium.
  • The point of contact with the source of the injury was at the same level or above the surface supporting the person at the inception of the fall.

According to OSHA, loss of traction is the leading cause of workplace slips, trips, and falls. Slips happen when you move too quickly, wear improper shoes, or ignore where you’re going. To reduce the number of slips and trips, it is vital to inspect walking-working surfaces regularly and to maintain their safe condition. Hazards include sharp/protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice. These conditions must be corrected before use, and the hazard guarded to prevent workers from using the walking-working surface.

While fall safety is a concern across all industries, it is of increased concern for the construction industry. Whether working from a ladder, roof, or scaffolding, it’s essential to plan, assess the risk, and use the right equipment. Determine if working from a height is absolutely necessary or if there is another way to complete the task safely.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910 regulations detail general industry safety regulations and apply to most worksites. Alternately, the OSHA 29 CFR 1926 standards focus on the construction industry and identify the specific work-related risks. This makes sense, as construction has distinct environmental and job hazards not commonly found among general worksites.

Neumann prioritizes implementing safety protocols and fall prevention systems to keep our entire team safe. Together, we will continue to build a safer construction industry.