Fall Hazards: What Could Go Wrong?

Fall hazards are present in most of the construction sites and many workers are exposed to these hazards on a daily basis.

A fall hazard is anything at your worksite that could cause you to lose your balance and result in a fall.

Although any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard, most common fall hazards in construction are related to unprotected edges, openings, scaffolds and ladders.

Almost all worksites 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 in severe injuries.

Besides, in the absence of fall protection or safe access to work front, it is even riskier to work on a scaffold with heavy equipment, building materials and within very limited space. Therefore, majority of the workers injured in scaffold accidents attribute the accident to factors such as the planking and support giving way, or to the lack of guardrails and other fall protection.

However ordinary it may sound, falls from ladders can also cause deadly injuries.

It has been noticed that the factors contributing to falls from ladders are mainly improper ladder selection for a given task, ladder slips (top or bottom supports), overreaching workers, slipping on rungs/steps, not having a portable ladder extended 3 feet above the landing surface and not to mention the lack of adequate training for workers at worksites.

Guardrails, safety net systems and personal fall arrest system are three generally acceptable methods of protection for workers who are exposed to fall hazards in construction sites. In general, it is better to use fall prevention systems, such as guardrails, than fall protection systems, such as safety nets or fall arrest devices, because prevention is more proactive and efficient than having to protect.

There are many ways you can prevent a fall from a ladder in construction sites; starting with choosing the right kind of ladder for the job and tying the top and bottom of the ladder to prevent it from moving sideways or falling backwards.

Workers should strictly avoid carrying tools or other materials in-hand while climbing the ladder. Rather than carrying tools or other materials in your hands, use a tool belt, install a rope and pulley arrangements, or tie a rope around your materials and pull them up once you have reached the elevated work surface.