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Articles Tagged with fall

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Since 2011 the number of construction workers who died in a fall accident increased by 45% according to the recent report “Trends of Fall Injuries and Prevention in the Construction Industry” released by the The Center for Construction Research and Training.

The report focuses mostly on data from 2011 to 2017 and found that despite a slow down in construction accident fatalities between 2016 and 2017, the number of deaths related to fall accidents continued to rise. 389 construction workers fell to their death in 2017 compared to 388 in 2016.

construction deaths and fall deaths 2003 to 2017
Among the 389 fall fatalities, 367 were to a lower level. Falls from roofs are the most common and account for approximately one third of the fall fatalities. Falls from ladders are the second most common causes of fall fatalities and account for approximately a quarter of them.  All in all falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds account for more than 70% of all falls to a lower level.

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harness safety equipment on scaffold The leading cause of construction workers deaths are falls. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a brochure with information on how employers and construction workers can better prevent fall injuries and deaths. Every year in the US more than 31o workers die and more than 10,350 are injured after falling from heights. Workers on roofs, workers on ladders and workers on scaffolds have the highest risk of getting injured in a fall. According to statistics from the US Department of Labor, in 2016, 124 workers died after falling from a roof, 104 of them died after falling from a ladder and 60 of them died after falling from a scaffold.

Roofers have the most dangerous occupation

81% of people dying after falling from a roof are construction workers. Most common factors contributing to this fatal accidents are inexperience, lack of fall protection,  no safety harness, fall protection system not proprely installed, working alone, bad weather conditions. Falls can be prevented by implementing a serious fall protection program, making sure workers all have proper safety equipment and are proprely trained to use it,inspecting fall equipment, using proper anchorage, using buddy system and monitoring weather conditions

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Fall Prevention Campaign887 workers lost their life after falling at their job sites in 2017 according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the highest number of fall deaths ever recorded by the BLS since the agency started to track these numbers almost 30 years ago. Fall fatalities account for 17% of all job-related fatalities and 40% of all construction job-related fatalities.

The most at risk are often construction workers with little training and experience who have been hired to work on construction sites after the recent boom in construction led to a labor force shortage in the industry. 60% of construction workers who died in a fall in 2017 were working for small companies (1 to 10 workers). As a comparison small construction companies only hire a third of the workforce in the construction industry in the US. Small companies are often hired for residential construction, a sector where fatal falls more than doubled between 2010 and 2015. Hispanic workers are the most at risk of dying in a fall accident. Language barrier, little training and also the fear of immigration authorities preventing undocumented workers to report dangerous conditions to OSHA are among the factors that led Hispanic workers to perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry.

Fall related violations are the most common OSHA violations

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New-York-Slip-and-Fall1Every day 223 older adults visit the emergency room after being injured in a fall in NY State, 140 are hospitalized and 2 die. Fall is the leading cause of unintentional injuries and deaths among older New Yorkers and among older people in the US as well. In the US every 19 minutes an older person dies from injuries related to a fall.

For people over 65 year old, falls often have serious consequences that can affect their global well being, their mobility, their independence and their mental health. 60% of the older New Yorkers who are hospitalized after a fall end up in a nursing home or a rehabilitation center. 11% of them suffer traumatic brain injury and 27% of them suffer from hip fractures.  In most cases falls occur at home. 60% of older adults hospitalized for a fall in New York fell in their own home.

Obviously as people get older, they loose some of their strength,  they sometimes have physical disabilities, their vision is decreasing and they take more medication which can lead to drowsiness. All these factors increase the risk of fall.

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Virtual reality (VR) can help prevent construction accident injuries and deaths. Recently, the American Society of Safety Professionals developed a virtual reality app for fall protection training. The app provides an immersive experience where the trainee is transported on the roof of a building, has to identify hazards and select the the proper equipment and tools to execute a dangerous task. The advantage of virtual reality is that it can virtually put workers in dangerous situations and let them experience how their actions can affect outcomes without taking any safety risks. So far the app is pretty basic but as technology continues to develop, it has a great potential to become a fantastic training tool for fall prevention.

Other simulators such as welding simulators are now used by 30% of union chapters in the US. Virtual sprayers to learn how to paint have also been in use for the last 5 years saving a lot of paint and material. A virtual lift simulator was presented last year at the Iron Workers annual conference as well as a beta version of a virtual training room where several trainees can work together in the same space.  More and more unions are considering adding VR in their training programs especially now that VR providers are trying to bring the costs down.

 

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Construction_workers_not_wearing_fall_protection_equipmentContractors who failed to protect construction workers from fall accidents and contractors who didn’t follow excavation and trenching safety rules were the ones hit with the biggest OSHA violations. Before Trump was elected, OSHA used to publish a high volume of press releases “shaming contractors” for violating safety rules. The number of press releases decreased but the penalties are among some of the highest OSHA has ever proposed. However many of them are negotiated down. Here are the top 10 recent largest fines:

  1. $1,523,710 for Great White Construction in Jacksonville, Florida related to fall protection and eye hazard violations. This commercial and residential roofer was cited 22 times for the same violations before being fined.  OSHA also listed the contractor in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
  2. $1,475,813 for Atlantic Drain Service Co. in Boston, Massachusetts.  This fine is related to an accident during which two construction workers died after a trench collapsed on them. Atlantic was cited for 18 safety violations and a new regulation was created that requires contractors to disclose their safety history when applying for a building permit in Boston. The owner of Atlantic was charged with manslaughter.
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New York Construction Site with protection against fallFalls are the main cause of deaths in the construction industry. Each year more than 200 hard hats die and more than 10,000 are seriously injured in fall accidents. The National Safety Stand Down Week aims at reducing falls from scaffolds, ladders and roofs by encouraging contractors and anyone working in the construction industry to take 3 simple but efficient measures that can prevent these fall accidents.

Many accidents can be prevented

  • by planning ahead how to execute the task safely
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Prevent falls in Construction Campaig
Falls are the number one cause of death in the construction industry. In 2016, a total of 991 hard hats died in construction accidents. Almost 40% of them, 370,  lost their life after they fell from a height. Most of these accidents may have been prevented.

To increase awareness and to prevent more injuries and deaths related to falls, OSHA and several other partners advocating for safe construction practices are asking employers all over the country to organize Safety Stand-Down events and discuss safety with their employees.  Employers are invited to focus on Fall Hazard and Fall Prevention. Safety stand-down can be conducted in various ways. Toolbox talk during a break or inspections of safety equipment, development of rescue plans or discussion related to specific job hazards are examples of activities that can be organized during a safety stand-down. The OSHA website proposes various suggestions and ideas to employers on how to organize a successful Stand-Down. OSHA also has an event page for Stand-Down events by regions that are free and open to the public. OSHA also encourages all employers to share their Stand-Down experience. Employers who are participating in the campaign will also receive a Certificate of Participation.

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT PREVENTION EVENTS ORGANIZED BY THE NYC DOB

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Construction worker helpin another one to set up safety harness
In New York almost half of the fatal accidents on construction sites are caused by falls. Most falls are preventable. OSHA is requiring that any worker who is working at a height of 6 feet or more from the ground and who is near an unprotected side or edge be protected with either or both of the following safety equipment:

  1. Fall restraint systems such as guardrails or safety nets
  2. Personal fall arrest system (PFAS) that includes full body harness, shock-absorbing lanyard vertical lifeline and a solid anchorage point.
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Fall Protection SystemThe Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) looked over 33 years of data from the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program and found out that falls were responsible for 42% of hard hat deaths. The CPWR searchers also found that  54% of the workers who died after falling did not have access to a personal fall arrest system and 23% had access to it but did not use it.  The study also found that roofers, siding and sheet metal contractors were those who most often were not provided with a personal fall arrest system. These numbers  clearly show the importance  of  holding contractors accountable for the safety of their employees when they work at high elevation.

NY STATE SCAFFOLD LAW MUST BE KEPT

In New York, the Scaffold Safety Law (Section 240(1) of the NYS Labor Law)  holds an owner and general contractor responsible for the death or the injuries of a worker if the worker wasn’t provided with the necessary safety equipment when working at height. Big construction companies and insurance companies have been trying to kill this law for years. However the Scaffold Law remains the most effective manner to make sure construction workers are protected from falls. This is particularly important in New York City where a lot of hard hats are participating in the construction of high rises buildings.