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Lack of fall protection is the top workplace violation

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Worker Safety, Workers' Compensation |

Construction workers often need to perform tasks from elevated heights, whether it’s to work on ceilings, windows or power lines. Even though working from high places is important for completing projects, it comes with a lot of risks. To this day, falls are one of the main reasons why employees are hurt or die in the construction industry.

Failing to implement fall protection standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide fall protection at heights above six feet to help prevent construction workers from falling. To do this, employers must:

  • Remove any known safety hazards in work areas
  • Place covers on all floor holes or openings that workers might fall into
  • Install guardrails and toe boards around elevated, open-sided platforms, floors and runways
  • Provide additional fall protection, such as safety harnesses, nets and railings, if necessary
  • Supply workers with free fall protection equipment
  • Inspect and replace damaged equipment regularly
  • Educate workers about the risks of fall hazards in clear and understandable language

Even with fall protection guidelines, OSHA says that a lack of fall protection is still the most common workplace violation in the construction industry. At times, it’s the contractors who break the rules. Other times, it is the employees themselves.

Why does a lack of fall protection still happen?

Often, OSHA issues citations to businesses because employees either underestimate the risks of working at heights or simply ignore the rules.

Employees continue to disregard their safety by leaving debris all over work areas, keeping equipment unorganized or removing protective gear because it feels uncomfortable. These can happen due to a lack of training.

Meanwhile, contractors may not install safeguards due to financial constraints, believing that certain heights are safe or an inability to identify risks.

Both the employee and employer should do their part to avoid falls. However, it is ultimately up to the employer to implement and enforce fall protections. If an employee is hurt or dies due to a lack of fall protection, they could hold the company liable.