On April 26, 2012, a national campaign was launched to help prevent falls in the construction industry. The hints and tips presented in this campaign can be applied across other industries and even in domestic properties. The campaign was designed to increase safe working methods, including using the right equipment. A special emphasis was placed on residential construction workers and contractors. The campaign has continued for the past three years and a National Safety Stand Down was organized between May 4th and 15th this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out a clear message. This message was that the fact that falls can kill. Indeed, they are the main reason for fatalities in the workplace. Furthermore, falls account for over a third of all injuries at work. In 2013, 828 fatalities happened in the construction industry and 291 of these were fatal falls. Each of these deaths could, and should, have been prevented.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls can be prevented with ease and this can help to save lives. Only three steps are required to achieve this: plan, provide, train. Let’s take a look, therefore, at ways to avoid slip and fall accidents.
1. Plan, Provide, Train
Within the construction industry, in particular, it is incredibly important to plan ahead so that a job is completed safely. Since a lot of tasks are done from high locations, projects have to be planned properly. The company should decide how a task will be completed and what sort of equipment will be needed in order to complete this. Safety equipment should also be factored into the budget of a new job and should include Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS).
The second element is “provide,” which means that the right equipment should be provided to each worker. These include a PFAS, scaffolds, ladders and other tools. As every construction job is unique, different types of tools are required each time. Clearly, this links into the planning stage, where contractors should find out what these tools and equipment are.
Finally, workers should be trained. They must be fully aware of how to use each piece of equipment safely. They should also be able to do risk assessments and recognize various hazards. If workers have to use a piece of equipment or a tool that they are not familiar with, they should first be comprehensively trained.
2. Understanding Contributing Factors
Regardless of the type of industry someone is involved in, there are always contributing factors to slips, trips and falls. It is very important to be aware of these, as it can help reduce occurrences of accidents. Poor housekeeping is a main contributing factor and all businesses should be committed to checking their flooring, sign posting potential dangers, fixing any issues and removing clutter and debris.
Another contributing factor is poor lighting. When lighting is too bright or not bright enough, the human eye struggles to spot potential risks and hazards. A dark cable, frayed carpet, moist area or loose floor tile can easily be missed if the lighting is not appropriate.
Finally, human behavior is a contributing factor. People can, for instance, wear inappropriate footwear. Others may carry large and heavy objects, thereby obstructing their line of sight. Others may simply be preoccupied with something else, causing them to miss hazards.
Having an understanding of these contributing factors is vital to reducing the number of accidents. The National AG Safety Database has provided a range of details on these factors. It also provides hints and tips on how to minimize accidents.
3. Safety at Home
While many slips, trips and falls happen in public places or in the workplace, falls in the home are also very common and even a leading cause of fatalities. The dangers are particularly present in elderly people, with some 60% of fall fatalities happening in people over the age of 75. The National Safety Council has highlighted this issue and provided tips to keep a domestic property safe, particularly for the elderly.
The main tips are to ensure a home is not cluttered with furniture and other pieces of debris. Furthermore, carpets should be fully secured to the floor and any spillages should immediately be cleaned up. Stair strips should be non-adhesive and all bathroom floors should have no skid mats. It is also important to install handrails along the stairs and in the bathroom. It is also important that any items a person needs in the home is within easy reach. Finally, nightlights should be installed throughout the home.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to adequately prevent slips, trips and falls. A fact sheet has been provided by the National Safety Council that highlights what some of the most common locations for slips and falls are. Additionally, it discusses just how much these accidents cost, which currently stands at around 8.9 million visits to the emergency room each year. The fact sheet also provides safety tips that are easy to apply and could just save someone’s life in the process.
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