How Can Falls at Construction Sites Be Prevented?

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Construction workers face hazards every day. More than 1,000 construction workers die of accidents at work each year, and nearly 40 percent of those fatalities are due to falls. Many of these accidents could have been prevented. Falls are common in the construction industry simply because there are many places from which a worker can fall while on a job site. Nearly 24 percent of falls on construction sites involve ladders. Workers misuse ladders by standing on the top step, overreaching, and failing to properly secure the ladder at its base.

Prevention is Key

Employers should conduct regular safety hazard inspections of the job site. Areas to identify include the following:

  • Unprotected ledges
  • Roofs
  • Scaffolding
  • Openings in walls or floors
  • Hole coverings

Certain types of equipment, such as aerial lifts, can prevent falls. However, aerial lifts present hazards if the lift platform is not properly secured with chains or doors. Exceeding the load limit of the platform or positioning it on uneven ground can cause it to tip over, causing injuries.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems

Workers performing tasks at heights should be provided with a personal fall arrest system (PFAS). This may include safety nets, harnesses, and guard rails. Those working at heights should be provided with a tight-fitting full-body harness connected to a lifeline. Moreover, the lifeline must be securely anchored to hold 5,000 pounds per employee. It is estimated that 70 percent of roofers work without access to harnesses and other PFAS equipment.


Many workers fall each year because scaffolding was constructed improperly. Scaffolding should be set up on a level base. There should be a secure and safe way for workers to enter and exit the scaffolding. The areas where workers walk on the scaffold should also be fully covered.

Unprotected Edges

Unprotected edges are unavoidable on most construction sites. Construction workers and supervisors can follow these tips to minimize falling hazards due to unprotected edges:

  • Use ropes or hazard tape to mark the unprotected edge as off limits
  • When using hole coverings, make sure they can support twice the estimated weight of a worker with tools.
  • Keep work areas around unprotected edges free from debris so the edges are easily seen.

Excessive noise on the job site can also contribute to the risk of falls. When workers attempt to call out to warn their colleagues about a hazard but cannot be heard over the noise, more accidents occur.

Avoid Falls

Fall protection was the most frequently cited standards violation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2018. That alone indicates that there many steps employers can take to help workers avoid falls.

Companies can start by providing PFAS and other safety equipment for employees working at heights. They can also conduct periodic safety hazard inspections, removal of debris, and cordoning off dangerous areas. Training workers about hazards, and how to use equipment properly, is also part of the prevention effort. Employers can check out the latest resources at OSHA for more assistance.

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If you suffered from a work-related illness or injury, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Protecting your rights is our top priority. We will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To find out the potential value of your Workers’ Compensation claim, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.