Once the third leading cause of work-related death across all industries, falls have surpassed workplace homicide to become the second leading cause after motor vehicle crashes.
Last year alone, some 717 workers died of injuries caused by falls from ladders, scaffolds, buildings or other elevations.
In a new report, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends strategic precautions to prevent fatal, work-related falls.
"Worker Deaths by Falls: A Summary of Surveillance Findings and Investigative Case Reports," allows individual workplaces to identify the risk factors for falls, and develop effective preventive measures.
It is designed to be useful for employers and workers as well as for safety professionals, according to NIOSH.
NIOSH recommends that employers design and use comprehensive fall-protection programs to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries.
At a minimum, employers should:
- incorporate safety in work planning;
- identify all fall hazards at a work site;
- conduct safety inspections regularly;
- train employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions; and
- provide employees with appropriate protective equipment and train them in its use.
As tools for such programs, the report includes:
- Extensive recommendations for preventing falls from ladders, scaffolds, buildings, fork lifts and stationary vehicle and trees.
- All 90 case reports that NIOSH issued from investigations of fatal job-related falls under its Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program.
"Worker Deaths by Falls" is available for free by calling the NIOSH toll-free information number, (800) 356-4674.
by Virginia Sutcliffe