Falls remain leading cause of construction industry deaths
Prevention, protection options numerous but not always used
One man – a company owner – has turned fall prevention in the construction industry into a moral crusade. A fall victim has made a video to warn others about the mistake he made on the job – an error that left him paralyzed. In one bizarre accident, a Boston construction worker who fell 30’ avoided serious injury when he landed on bubble wrap. Others who fell were not so lucky.
Here is a sampling of the year’s construction fall-related stories as featured on www.ISHN.com:
No fall protection, no fall protection training
A construction company in American Samoa that routinely neglected to ensure workers were anchored or tied off to body harnesses came in for scrutiny by OSHA after a worker suffered a fatal fall in May.
"I wasn't coping"
When Jason Anker was 24 years old, he took a roofing job – something he’d had little experience with – working for his father-in-law. Nearing the end of the workday, Anker saw a situation he knew was risky (the ladder he was to use wasn’t tied on), but said nothing.
Workers injured when a beam collapses in Florida, a stairway in Connecticut
Although falls continue to cause a large number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry, two recent incidents in two different states demonstrate the variety of falls that can occur.
Teenage construction worker seriously injured in same town, different accident
The co-owner of a small tree service company in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, was not wearing his safety equipment when he fell to his death July 11 while trimming trees, according to his partner in the business.
ASSE journal article surveys types, explains resistance
It’s not news that falls from height cause the majority of work-related fatalities among residential construction workers (64 percent, according to a 2011 report by the BLS).
OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) - Construction Sector on this nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented and lives can be saved. Here's how:
Working at heights carries risk. About five American construction workers are killed every week by falls from heights, 251 of them in 2011 alone. New data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) show you don’t have to fall very far for the fall to be deadly.
This true tragedy is taken from the files of NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program: A 17-year-old female laborer fell about 26 feet from a residential roof to a stone patio. Nine days later she died from her injuries. The victim was working for a construction company replacing a residential roof. (How common is this work? You and friends may have done this yourself.)
By Dave Johnson
Last May, 28-year-old Adrien Zamora fell 40 feet from a scaffold while restoring an 11-story building in New York. It was his first day on the job, and he had not been given a fall protection harness or the necessary safety training. He left behind a wife and their two young daughters.
It’s “a moral choice”
It isn’t often that the results of one’s safety efforts in the workplace are easily measured, but in the case of Jeremy Bethancourt, that measurement is 11. And counting. Since the Arizona businessman began developing and implementing strengthened fall procedures at Scottsdale, Arizona-based LeBlanc Building Co. in 2006, 11 construction workers employed by LeBlanc have had falls arrested, saving them from likely serious injury or death.
True stories of fatalities can help train workers
Two short, dramatic worker safety videos presenting the hazard of fatal falls on the job are now available online. Produced by the California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the videos illustrate true stories about the death of a worker who fell through a skylight and a solar installer who fell off a roof.
Fourteen feet up without fall arrest systems
OSHA has cited roofing contractor KG Framing and Construction LLC with 12 safety violations, including one willful and three repeat, for failing to provide roofers with protection from falls at a commercial shopping site in Maryland Heights.
Ryan Roofing Inc. in Salina, Kansas cited by OSHA
Six months after an accident that resulted in a worker being paralyzed, OSHA has concluded its investigation into the incident and issued three citations against the employer, Ryan Roofing Inc. The worker is paralyzed after falling 20 feet from the roof of a commercial building the company was replacing on Oct. 3, 2012.
Falls down, but still at top of list
OSHA says that if the construction industry focused on eliminating the top four causes of fatalities among workers, 410 worker fatalities a year could be prevented. Out of 4,114 worker fatalities in private industry in 2011, 721 (17.5 percent) were in construction.
Conte Roofing Co. cited
A call from the Moonachie, NJ Police Department last October alerted OSHA to a serious accident at a worksite – caused by a hazard that the agency has focused considerable resources on reducing.
Emergency responders in Boston said a construction worker who fell 30 feet was spared serious injury when he landed on bubble wrap, according to UPI. A spokesman for the Boston Fire Department said the 38-year-old worker fell 30 feet off a building and landed in a pile of bubble wrap taken from the construction site`s scaffolding.
Could architects & designers collaborate in the U.S.?
The Access Industry Forum (AIF) has introduced a dedicated work at height information helpline for DIOHAS, the Designer’s Initiative on Health & Safety, whose members include professionals from the major architectural practices, other construction disciplines and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).