Understanding the Danger of Falling and Protecting
Yourself against it
By: The Working Man
If you work in construction, roofing or other industries that
work at heights, you probably figure that you know all about the
danger of falls. But did you know that every year over one
hundred thousand injuries and deaths can be blamed on work-
Roofers in particular have the fifth highest work related death
rate in construction, with around thirty deaths per one hundred
thousand full-time workers. About fifty roofers die on the job
each year, and most of the deaths are caused by accidental falls.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics lists falls as one
of the leading causes of occupation-related deaths. A U.S.
Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) study investigated ninety-
nine fatalities that had resulted from a fall. Their conclusion
suggested that every death could have been prevented if qualified
fall protection has been used. Forms of fall protection can
include of guardrails, warnings line systems, or personal fall
By law in the United States, anyone who works on a surface that
would allow a fall of four feet or more, or who works on a raised
surface that has an unprotected edge, or who works from bucket
trucks or other lifts that move must be protected from falling by
personal protective equipment if at all possible in the
particular job assignment, and the employer must provide the
Individual states and specific industries such as shipyard and
long shoring employment also have their own standards for fall
protection, most of which match the OSHA standards fairly well.
There are a number of ways to protect workers from falls,
including warning signs, designated areas, guardrails, safety net
systems, safety training, and personal protective equipment such
as travel restraint systems and fall arrest systems. If you are
working on your own or are not provided with personal protective
equipment, please research the subject and make sure that you
have such equipment and that it stays in good condition and is
adequate to keep you safe.
When a person's job assignment requires them to work at height
the employer is required to provide training so that the worker
has the skills and knowledge to safely perform the tasks
The worker is responsible to plan ahead for his own safety,
maintain his own fall protective equipment, check the anchorages
for any harnesses, know the distances he may fall and that his
PPE will stop him safely and won't allow him to swing into
something dangerous should he fall. He should also have a "buddy"
system with someone who can be aware of his circumstances at all
times, and how to call for help if an accident does occur.
No matter the country in which you live, websites such as
www.occupationalhazards.com and the like can offer
advice and information that may help you.
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