Fatal falls decline 42 percent as construction activity slumps
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fatal work injuries involving falls decreased 2 percent in 2010 (from 645 in 2009 to 635 in 2010).
Overall, fatal falls are down 25 percent from the series high of 847 fatal falls reported in 2007. Since 2007, fatal falls in the private construction industry have decreased by 42 percent.
Fatal injuries resulting from being struck by objects or equipment were also lower, down 4 percent in 2010 to 402.
Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards. Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. OSHA lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.
Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.
Fall protection is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, and the longshoring industry.