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How proper fall protection could reduce fall injuries at work

Not all jobs require employees to take physical risks on a daily basis. But in some industries, such as construction, employees may have to take such risks by working at heights for example.

In order to address the dangers associated with working at great heights, fall protection regulations have been established for construction sites. Despite these health and safety workplace injuries caused by falls still occur.

According to statistics from 2014, fall protection violations accounted for 359 of the 899 construction-related deaths. Additionally, they also accounted for over 20,000 citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the last four years. In order to reduce these numbers, safety consultants and construction companies have devises a five-step plan that they recommend for construction sites.

First, there should be uniform requirements when it comes to protecting against falls. This means having set heights where tie-offs should be completed, when guardrails should be used and when fall-protection mechanisms, such as safety nets, should be used. Second, fall safety expectations should be communicated early and often on the construction site. Next, employers and employees should know their gear. This means training and safety education.

Fourth, contractors should plan ahead. Many do not consider the costs associated with fall-protection and will often forgo necessary equipment because it is no longer in their budget. Lastly, contactors should close the "revolving door" of workers. In the current market, it is common to hire and fire employees, but rotating workers frequently can increase risks and hazards, especially when it comes to fall protection.

While there are steps to address the safety concerns regarding fall injuries on construction sites, workers should understand that they have rights following a workplace accident. Injured workers in West Virginia can seek workers' compensation benefits, which could help offset losses and arising from the work incident.

Source: ConstructionDive.com, "Checklist: 5 steps to improve fall protection on the job site," Hallie Busta, Nov. 3, 2016

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