(Part I) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

What is a fall hazard?

A fall hazard is anything at your work site that could cause you to lose your balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall. Fall hazards are present at most work sites and many workers are exposed to these hazards on a daily basis. Any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard.

OSHA generally requires that fall protection be provided at six feet in construction industry. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.

Most common fall hazards in construction are related to unprotected edges, openings, scaffolds and ladders.

What are the major types of fall hazards in construction?

1. Unprotected roof edges, roof and floor openings, and work at leading edges, etc.. Almost all sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings, or floor holes at some point during construction. If these sides and openings are not protected, injuries from falls or falling objects may result, ranging from sprains to death.

Falls to a lower level are a major cause of fatalities in construction. Factors such as improperly covered or protected floor holes and openings are a common fall hazard.

2. Improper scaffold construction. It is difficult to work on a scaffold with heavy equipment, building materials and very limited space. Without fall protection or safe access, it becomes hazardous. Falls from improperly constructed scaffolds can result in injuries ranging from sprains to death. Guardrails or personal fall arrest systems (for fall prevention/protection) are required for workers on platforms 10 feet or higher.

The majority of the workers injured in scaffold accidents attribute the accident to factors like the planking or support giving way, or to lack of guardrails or other fall protection.

3. Unsafe portable ladders. You risk falling if a portable ladder is not safely positioned each time you use one. While you are on a ladder, it may move and slip from its supports. You can also lose your balance while getting on or off an unsteady ladder. Falls from ladders can cause injuries ranging from sprains to death.

Factors that contribute to falls from ladders are ladder slip (top or bottom), overreaching, slipping on rungs/steps, defective equipment, improper ladder selection for a given task, not having a portable ladder extend 3 feet above the landing, no worker training, and improper use of the top of stepladders. (Cont’d)

(Part I) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

(Part II) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part II) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part III) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Caught–In or –Between Hazards

(Part III) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Caught–In or –Between Hazards

(Part IV) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Electrocution Hazards

(Part IV) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Electrocution Hazards

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