A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Fatal Fall Facts

My wife took a tumble down the stairs the other day. Luckily she only suffered a sprain. Some years ago my brother fell from a 3 foot high ladder while installing electrical wiring, shattered his ankle and now walks on a prosthetic ankle.

Those two incidents scared them and me for certain. They were among the lucky ones, those who did not die in the fall.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the OSHA website on the stats of fatal falls on construction jobsites and was interested in the following from 2015, the latest stats available from BLS.

First, in 2015, there were 350 fatal falls on construction sites. That means that 350 families lost a family member, most likely a father or brother.

According to the same stats, the construction worker who fell was between 45 and 54 years old. That stat makes me wonder whether the more experienced construction workers think that they are immune after so many years on the job and take unwarranted risks that lead to a fall to their death. Doubly concerning is that, according to BLS and AGC, the average age of skilled construction workers today is 49 years old making them more likely to fall.

Like my brother, the OSHA stats say that 1/3 of the fatal falls occur from a height of 15 feet or less, meaning that you do not have to fall a full story to be killed in a fall.

Lastly, the stats show that one in four fatal falls are from ladders. How many times have you seen someone standing on the top of a ladder stretching to make that final connection or weld or to tie those cables or anchor that conduit or even paint that corner?

Don’t think that it is just the young and inexperienced worker on your team who is more likely to fall; be certain to train all of your field crews, even your foreman, in ladder safety so that they will all be able to go home to their families tonight and come back to work tomorrow.

By the way, I have no idea how many non fatal falls occurred, but I do know that they can be prevented by safety training and by everyone on the jobsite being aware and watching the backs of their fellow workers.