Maintaining the safety of workers on roof tops and in other elevated areas is critical to the success of building maintenance, repair, renovations and construction projects. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls are the number one cause of fatalities on construction sites and are responsible for up to one-third of all deaths in this industry. Reducing the number of falls is a major objective for both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). To that end, these two agencies joined forces in April 2012 to create the Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction through the proper utilization of fall protection equipment. This new initiative is designed to boost awareness and to provide information to help construction firms, contractors and workers to ensure maximum safety and protection against falls in the worksite environment.
Key Strategies to Promote Safer Worksites
The CDC and NIOSH have identified three areas in which safety improvements can generally be made by contractors and workers:
- Prior planning can prevent many accidents and ensure a safer working environment.
- Safety equipment should be in place to protect workers and should be used at all times when in elevated positions or anywhere that falls are possible.
- Training programs should provide guidance for workers and supervisors on the proper use of available equipment to ensure safer working conditions.
Material available from the project’s website indicates that falls were responsible for over one-third of all injuries that resulted in days away from work; this amounted to 25,150 injuries in 2010 alone. Between the years of 1992 and 2010, falls from an elevated level caused 6,678 deaths and were responsible for 97 percent of all fall-related fatalities.
Causes of Construction Site Falls
Experts attribute the high incidence of falls on construction sites to a number of different factors:
- Debris can reduce visibility and can lead to trips or falls on the worksite
- Uncovered holes and pits are constant hazards for construction workers
- Improperly installed or maintained scaffolding can pull away from buildings
- Failure to use proper safety lines and equipment on rooftops and at higher elevations can result in fatal falls
These hazardous conditions can easily result in serious injury or death for workers not protected by advanced safety equipment. In many cases, lawsuits and large settlements have resulted from the failure of construction companies to protect their workers against these dangerous conditions. Ensuring that workers and supervisors have the full array of safety equipment needed on each project can improve productivity and reduce the risk of these serious worksite accidents.
The Right Equipment Can Save Lives
Obtaining and implementing the right safety equipment can prevent most falls and provide added protection for workers. Roof anchors, walkways, railings, maintenance platforms and full-body harnesses and lifelines are the basis for most building maintenance system installations. The right combination of these safety devices and installations can create a safer working environment for construction workers. Putting a safety plan in place and ensuring that all workers have the proper training to use this equipment can significantly reduce the risk of on-the-job falls for most contractors and construction firms.
One of the most innovative fall prevention systems is the FlexWalk rooftop safety solution. This advanced and integrated fall protection equipment incorporates secure walkways and handrails and can be configured in a variety of ways to suit almost any working environment. FlexWalk is designed for rooftop use and protects tiles, panels and other roofing materials against damage.The roof anchor supports for this advanced fall protection system are specifically designed to leave standing seam roof panels intact to prevent leaks and damage during installation and use.
FlexWalk is an ideal addition to any rooftop safety system and can provide added protection for maintenance workers and construction crews. By implementing these and other safety measures, contractors, construction firms and building managers can reduce the risk of falls on their worksites and properties.