Most people think construction work is dangerous. It’s difficult to argue otherwise. Among the top 25 most dangerous occupations in the United States, about 32% are construction-related jobs. And the data supporting that statistic are hard and cold:
- Subcontractors’ construction workers’ fall-related injuries and deaths are higher than general contractors’ employees.
- Non-union companies’ workers’ injuries are higher than union companies’.
- Hispanic construction workers’ injuries and deaths are higher than other ethnicities’.
- Falls are the biggest safety risk to construction workers.
Construction work doesn’t have to be as dangerous as it is or as dangerous as it’s perceived.
More than 300 construction workers died from falls in 2020, and witnesses said inadequate planning was the primary cause. “Inadequate planning” would include the fact that almost half of the construction workers had no fall protection in place. If you’re a construction site project manager, supervisor, or company owner, that’s on you.
7 Causes of Construction Workers’ Falls
Project site workers mirror their supervisors. If management has a slap-happy attitude about safety, especially fall protection, that impacts employee mindsets.
Jessica Bunting, director of research for the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) says the lack of planning on jobsites is associated with failure to use safety devices. “Employees’ beliefs about their company’s fall protection policy are strongly associated with their use of fall protection.” She also noted fatalities are reduced among construction worker falls when they have received self-rescue training.
In a CPWR survey, primary fall causes included:
- Insufficient/ineffective planning
- Didn’t use provided fall protection
- Misuse of fall protection
- Lack of fall protection training
- Improper use of access equipment
- Unstable/collapsed walking/working surface
- No fall protection provided
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