Make Fall Safety a Top Priority

It may come as a surprise that the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death is falls. In 2014, nearly 32,000 people died in falls at home and at work – and for working adults, depending on the industry, falls can be the leading cause of death.

Hazards in the Workplace


In 2013, 595 workers died in falls from a higher level, and 47,120 were injured badly enough to require days off of work. A worker doesn't have fall from a high level to suffer fatal injuries. While half of all fatal falls in 2013 occurred from 20 feet or lower, 11% were from less than 6 feet, according to Injury Facts 2016®

Construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from height – more than seven times the rate of other industries – but falls can happen anywhere, even at a "desk job."

NSC data for 2013 includes falls from height and falls on the same level, by industry:

  • Construction: 21,890 injuries, 302 deaths
  • Manufacturing: 21,430 injuries, 42 deaths
  • Wholesale trade: 12,640 injuries, 25 deaths
  • Retail trade: 29,690 injuries, 32 deaths
  • Transportation and Warehousing: 21,970 injuries, 35 deaths
  • Professional and business services: 19,300 injuries, 91 deaths
  • Education and health services: 47,740 injuries, 13 deaths
  • Government: 66,940 injuries, 54 deaths      

Falls are 100% Preventable

      
Whether working from a ladder, roof or scaffolding, it's important to plan ahead, assess the risk and use the right equipment. First, determine if working from a height is absolutely necessary or if there is another way to do the task safely.

  • Discuss the task with coworkers and determine what safety equipment is needed
  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use the equipment
  • Scan the work area for potential hazards before starting the job
  • Make sure you have level ground to set up the equipment
  • If working outside, check the weather forecast; never work in inclement weather
  • Use the correct tool for the job, and use it as intended
  • Ensure stepladders have a locking device to hold the front and back open
  • Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder
  • Place the ladder on a solid surface and never lean it against an unstable surface
  • A straight or extension ladder should be 1 foot away from the surface it rests on for every 4 feet of height and extend at least 3 feet over the top edge
  • Securely fasten straight and extension ladders to an upper support
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes and don't stand higher than the third rung from the top
  • Don't lean or reach while on a ladder, and have someone support the bottom
  • Never use old or damaged equipment; check thoroughly before use

Millions of people are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every year. A fall can end in death or disability in a split second, but with a few simple precautions, you'll be sure stay safe at at work.