Falls in construction are a well known cause of work injury. A common misconception is that fall injuries are primarily of concern to individuals that work at heights. This is not an accurate representation of the danger presented by slips, trips, and falls, even at minimal height. In heavy and highway construction, also known as horizontal construction, falls account for approximately 25% of workers compensation claims. These consist of falls from trucks, trailers, and construction equipment (45%); ladders, stairs, and scaffolding (20%); and walking or working surfaces (5%). Fortunately, a recent national focus on fall prevention has raised awareness of the issue and improved the quality of resources available to safety professionals. Resources are published daily at sites like OSHA’s Stop Falls Initiative, CDC’s Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction, and StopConstructionFalls.com in support of this important work safety trend.
As a leading cause of injury in the workplace, the risk of falls from trucks, trailers, and equipment is an important hazard for which to mitigate risk. Communicating the need to maintain three points of contact, wear proper footwear, and clean debris from ladders and steps is a good first step. For many types of equipment, upgrading to access ladders that provide three points of contact and durable weight support can provide additional injury risk management. United Rentals is one example of a company that has provided a Safety Best Practice document recommending all employees at their 800+ locations upgrade to the Trucker portable side truck mount ladder. The Trucker ladder provides 3 points of contact, ANSI rated weight support, and slip resistant tread in a sturdy, lightweight design.
Indirect Costs from Fall Injuries
It is important to remember the indirect costs of work injuries when considering falls from minimal heights. It is easy to take for granted the risk of a fall from a 4′ flatbed trailer, particularly under the stress of work timelines. Nevertheless, while these may not always be a fatality risk, the consequences of a work injury extends far beyond broken bones and injury claims. Individuals can suffer long term complications that affect their ability to work and your company’s ability to excel. Even when injuries are minor, your company’s workers’ comp EMR (Experience Modifier Rate) is affected, causing insurance rates to go up and potentially limiting your ability to win valuable contracts. Clearly, the national focus on construction fall protection is a worthy cause for the sake of workers and the industries that employ them.
Powered industrial trucks are common across industries for transporting, storing, and staging materials, as well as many other practical uses. Considering the wide range of applications and utility for trucks and trailers, it is not surprising that they are commonly cited for OSHA safety citations. The sheer size and power of the truck combined with the variety of transported materials are the focus of regulations for OSHA standard 1910.178.
The Top Five industries cited for Powered Industrial Truck violations sheds light on the importance of truck safety risk management in the workplace.
Manufacturing (665 Citations)
Wholesale Trade (165)
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services (145)
Retail Trade (70)
Powered Truck Safety in Industry
OSHA has structured Industry Standard 1910.178 to ensure businesses focus on operating properly equipped trucks, consider the safety factors of transported materials and operating environments, and generally to protect against the power and size of industrial truck equipment. Fire hazards, chemical considerations, and proper labeling are the focus of the standard.
Trucks are common in many industries, particularly those with material transport needs and at construction job sites. Not surprisingly, each of the top 5 industries cited regularly conduct these activities. The standard does not apply to “compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, nor to farm vehicles, nor to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling.”
Fall Protection for Truck Trailers
In addition to standards related to Powered Industrial Trucks, truck trailers provide safety risks to consider when loading, unloading, staging, and performing related work requirements. Providing safe access to trailers as well as an adequate work area for loading dock employees is a vital element to complete trucking protection. Trailer access products such as Trucker safety ladders and portable work platforms will trucking fall protection on the road, loading dock, and job site.
National Work Zone Awareness week is wrapping up today after five day of events and outreach initiatives to spread the word about an important work safety agenda. Work Zone Safety refers to construction and maintenance on highways and roads, encompassing a wide range of individuals, from pedestrians and drivers to road workers, municipal employees and law enforcement.
Work Zone Safety: “We’re All In This Together”
National Work Zone Awareness Week is a collaboration between the Federal Highway Administration and ATSSA with support from organizations including Associated General Contractors and WorkZoneSafety.org, to bring awareness to the risks involved in highway work zones. In 2010, 576 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones, a marked improvement over a 10 year period as informed drivers and state awareness programs are helping to increase safety. With road construction beginning to ramp up after the winter months, National Work Zone Awareness Week serves to remind us of the importance of caution when traveling through work zones.
Work Zone Construction Safety: An Important Agenda
National Work Zone Awareness Week was initiated in 1999 and has coincided with a reduction in work zone crashes and fatalities each year since 2002. While there is always room for additional construction safety measures and caution in work zones, statistics support the effectiveness and importance of the campaign.
Crashes in work zones caused 720 fatalities in 2008, a 39 percent decrease from 2002, when 1,186 work zone fatalities occurred
In 2010, 576 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones
Approximately 85% of work zone fatalities are drivers and their passengers
18%of work zone crashes injure construction workers, and 8% cause fatal injury
38% of highway contractors had motor vehicles crash into their construction work zones during the past year
45% of all work zone fatalities for 2010 were 35 years old or younger
Highway Safety Equipment and Work Zone Safety Initiatives
Since National Work Zone Awareness Week kicked off in 1999, innovation and technological developments have helped to manage injury risk associated with automobile crashes in highway work zones. Manufacturers such as Trinity Highway Products and Energy Absorption Systems produce highway crash cushions, crash rated traffic barrier, and shadow vehicle attenuator trucks to absorb and manage collision impacts. Highway safety equipment contractors such as Site-Safe Products specialize in work zone safety on highways across the country.
But the most important initiative for accident prevention is driver awareness. Products such as RoadQuake Rumble Strips help to alert drivers when workers are present. Always be mindful of work zone signage, put away any distracting devices, slow down, and observe posted speed limits when workers are present.
As National Work Zone Awareness Week reminds us, highway safety will help protect not only your family, but also the families of construction workers and municipal representatives operating in work zones.
Floor openings are a broad OSHA standard covering stairwells, ladderways, hatches, skylights, pits, manholes, and other walking or working surfaces that workers can fall into. In industrial workplaces, floor openings commonly provide multi-level access or access to storage or materials, and are often found when labor or construction is underway. Consider the Top 10 citations for OSHA safety standard 1910.23 in 2012.
Manufacturing (302 Citations in 2012)
Wholesale Trade (71 Citations)
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services (61 Citations)
Safety managers and operations personnel must keep in mind OSHA guidelines including proper railings, floor opening covers, toe boards, manhole guards, and platforms. Industries with the most frequent violations include manufacturing, transportation/energy, and mining. The common thread among these industries? Material storage, operational setting variations, and multi-level access.
If your work area provides access to multiple levels for which standard equipment will not safely facilitate, custom solutions may be necessary. Proper equipment will protect your employees, manage worker’s comp safety risk, and prevent OSHA citations.
Innovative Access Solutions, LLC
For custom access design, Innovative Access Solutions is an experienced and knowledgeable producer of OSHA safe solutions, across industries. For more information about IAS, visit IAScustom.com or call (800) 388-6884.
The National Bureau of Labor’s 2011 Census of Occupational Injuries brought to light a theme that occupational safety management professionals have observed for years: Slips & Falls are a leading cause of occupational injuries. Combined with Roadway Incidents, the two categories make up over a third of all fatal occupational injuries. Trucking, Transportation & Warehousing is the industry sector with the most fatal work injuries and a Top 3 work injury rate. Safety professionals in these industries should consider leading fall protection risk areas and consider mitigation tactics for each.
Sounds easy, right? Have a look at our premier infographic ‘Slips & Falls in Trucking’ to see this concept illustrated for painless consumption.
Fall protection is a topic that small business owners often overlook. It may seem taxing to invest in equipment that provides safety features such as three points of contact, slip resistant flooring, and safety guardrails, but a reassuring way to look at it is as an ROI investment. The potential for employees to fall and injure themselves, particularly at heights greater than 4′, is a significant cost management risk which can be mitigated at marginal investment cost. Consider the following risk factors associated with failing to protect your employees from injuries resulting from falls.
Workers Comp Claims: The cost of broken bones is one of the most expensive worker’s compensation claims.
Insurance Premium Rates: When an employee is injured at work, Workers Comp premium rates may increase as your claim risk factor is increased.
Another factor to consider is employee morale. Small businesses must function as a well-oiled machine to meet the demands of a growing customer base. Even the slightest hit to morale resulting from an injured co-worker can affect performance, quality and timelines. Research has shown that a safe working environment supports optimum productivity and employee satisfaction. Taking steps to protect employees that work at heights will provide risk management benefit and support your goal of attaining high productivity.