Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries. And approximately one in five falls are fatal. Your employer has safeguards in place, such as guardrails and fall protection supplies and procedures, but there is a lot you can to do to reduce the chance of an incident. Here are some things to consider:
HOUSEKEEPING: Keep floors in work areas as clean and dry as possible. Good housekeeping habits are the best way to ensure good footing, which is essential to preventing falls. Scrap lumber, trash, wire, and slippery areas caused by water, grease, or oil can cause falls. Housekeeping is especially important in high traffic areas like hallways where pedestrians may not be paying close attention to where they put their feet.
LADDERS: Select a ladder that suits the purpose. Many workers believe that they can use any ladder for any job. Make sure your ladder is in good condition and that the foundation is secure. Use both hands when climbing and always face the ladder when going up or down. Do not carry tools with you.
SCAFFOLDS: Scaffolds need to be inspected daily by a competent person. Use a tagging system:
- green – scaffold safe to use
- yellow – use caution when using scaffolding. The tag should list the precautions needed for safe use.
- red – do not use scaffold
Even if it will be used for only a short time, scaffolding should be constructed like a permanent structure. Provide guardrails and toe boards to help prevent falls. Whenever you’re on a single-point or a two-point suspended scaffold, wear appropriate fall protection. Be sure it’s tied to a secure independent life line.
FLOOR AND WALL OPENINGS: Cover floor openings or protect them with standard guardrails and toe boards. Protect wall openings, except for doorways and stairways through which persons could fall. This protection should be secured and substantial enough to prevent displacement.
STAIRS: Falls on stairways are usually caused by running, carrying objects that block your line of sight, failure to use handrails, or just not paying attention. Watch your step and pay attention to what you are doing.