If you’ve been a contractor for any length of time, you have probably fallen from a ladder or scaffold or know someone who has. According to OSHA, falls are the leading reason for fatalities among contractors in construction industries. Approximately one-third of all fatalities are directly related to falls.
In 2016, 991 construction worker deaths were reported in which 370 were falls to a lower level. In most of the circumstances, contractors were not wearing fall protection properly and ins some instances they were not wearing fall protection at all.
The worst part is in all the cases reported, OSHA says the deaths were preventable.
To reduce falls and fatalities, OSHA recommends that contractors follow three important steps: “Plan. Provide. Train.”
Before beginning work on a job site, it’s important to plan. The first thing you as a contractor should be thinking about is safety. Then, you can consider what needs be done. If you don’t plan, then you will be unprepared and more likely to skip important steps out of convenience.
“When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site,” OSHA states.
By planning ahead, you ensure the project is completed on time and on budget – and most importantly you ensure the safety of everyone involved. The most important piece of any job is the worker and his or her well-being and safety.
As a contractor, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have what you need to ensure your safety and that of your employees and fellow contractors. You should ensure that you provide fall protection and any related safety equipment to include ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear for anyone worker more than six feet or more above a lower level.
It’s vital that you ensure all safety equipment is working as intended and that it fits properly. It should also be inspected in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or best practices.
You should always ensure that you and your employees or fellow contractors are trained on the proper setup and use of fall protection equipment.
When using ladders, you should always know the three points of contact:
- Keep the ladder on a secure and level surface;
- Ensure it is secured and that the metal braces are locked;
- Refrain from overreaching.
Contractors and employees should know how to setup scaffolding to include:
- How to install and setup guardrails;
- Ensure that the scaffolding is tight, and stability will be maintained;
- That the scaffolding is level.
Safety should never be compromised for convenience. By doing these three simple things you will ensure your safety and the safety of everyone around you. While you can put a price on a project, you can put a price on a preventable injury or fatality.