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Falls from Height

Falls from Height are relatively common, especially within work constructors, and, opposite to what most people believe, even small falls can be fatal. Statistics point out that one in three falls within this industry resulted from a low fall. Falls from ladders, roofs, and scaffolds are associated with maintenance or construction work.

The Center for Construction Research (2018) states that:

11.7% of fall-related fatalities resulted from falls from heights between 6 and 10 feet.

19.7% fall 11 to 15 feet.

And 17.4% fall 16 to 20 feet.

Even with the increase of multiple security measures, falls from Height remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry. A widespread saying in the safety world is: "It's not the fall that kills you; it's the sudden stop at the end of it." This speaks exactly about how the fall doesn't kill you, but the impact of the body against the ground does.

The most significant sources of fatal falls in the construction industry include roofs, ladders, and scaffolds, but these numbers are decreasing by -8.1%, -15.4%, and -23.3% (respectively). In addition, most accidents happened from 12:01 to 18:00, corresponding to the most active period of the day.

In the food and drink industries, fall accidents are also frequent. An analysis made by HSE showed that, over 150 falls, the workers fell from:

§ Ladders: 40%.

§ Vehicles/FLTs: 17%

35% fell from the back of a lorry.

31% fell from FLT forks.

13% from cab steps.

9% from the top of a vehicle.

4% from tanker steps.

§ Machinery/plant: 10%

§ Platforms: 10%

§ Stairs: 8%

§ Roof/false ceiling: 7%

§ Scaffold/gantry: 4%

§ Warehouse racking: 4%

Some of the variables that influence the consequences of a fall include:

Surface: falling on soft surfaces present a lower chance of calamity.

Height: generally, the higher the fall, the bigger the mortality rate. Brain injury/trauma is usually the foremost cause of death. Still, most victims died on the scene or while transported to the hospital.

Age: older workers are the most vulnerable group, as they are the most likely to be fatally injured due to a fall. Workers over 65, an age where the loss of balance is noticeable, present a higher risk.

Gender: this factor is mainly present because the construction industry controls men, so fall accidents happen more frequently to men than women.

Luck: Fate, or destiny are also a factor. There are cases (although scratching the almost non-existent' barrier) of individuals falling from over 100 feet and surviving. The odds of this happening are tiny, so it's better to prevent future risks.

Another common misconception is the main cause of falls from Height. Although about 90% of them are unintentional accidents, other reasons include suicide and workplace accidents. Nonetheless, the majority of these falls take place on construction sites.

What can be done to reduce the risk of accidents?

There should be safety measures in every workplace, but these must be reinforced in places of more considerable risk, like, as previously referred, construction industries.

The employees should have the proper training to prevent accidents and learn how to deal with them in an emergency. As a healthy consequence for the employer, this simple action significantly reduces the number of workplace accidents.

More safety changes:

Reduce the Height, duration, and frequency of the task

Increase the condition of the Surface being worked on as much as possible (e.g., changing the wood, making sure the Surface is always clean and dry.)

Put a safety mattress (or similar) when working from considerable heights to reduce the consequences in case of an accident.

When portable equipment is used by workers who don't have the full knowledge of the material, even for temporary access, hire a professional lifter.


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