Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 798 workers fell and died in 2014. The same year, 261,930 employees were hurt so badly that they missed work due to falls. That's not even counting minor falls that could result in pain and discomfort that employees worked through.
Clearly, falls are a huge issue. They're one of the leading causes of injury and death in the workplace. Why do they keep happening? Below are five reasons.
1. Edges aren't properly protected.
Maybe you work in a warehouse with a balcony where extra materials get stored. The balcony doesn't have a railing. Even though workers may not venture up there often, that unprotected edge can be a huge hazard. The same is true with staircases that have broken or missing banisters.
2. Walls or floors have unblocked openings.
This is often a problem in an office setting, but it can be a serious issue on a construction site. Work isn't complete. A window is getting installed, for instance, but it's not up yet. It's just a frame on the second story of a building. It's unavoidable, but its a hazard.
3. The work area is cluttered, dirty or slippery.
Remember, not all falls happen from heights. You don't have to fall off of a roof to be seriously injured. Plenty of workers get hurt when they slip on wet floors that no one cleaned up or trip over items left in walkways. It's critical for managers to stress cleanliness and organization, and they need to respond quickly to spills, broken pipes and other such hazards.
4. Workers ignore fall protection or don't use it properly.
Some workers aren't given fall protection equipment when it's needed. Others have equipment and opt not to use it, feeling the pressure of getting the job done quickly. Still others aren't trained and use the equipment incorrectly so that it doesn't protect them when they eventually fall. All of these problems can lead to deadly accidents for construction workers, roofers, window washers and many others.
5. Ladders get set up unsafely.
A ladder seems like a device that is incredibly easy to use, but the reality is that they're often used improperly. They're set up at too steep or too shallow of an angle. They're set up upside-down, so the claw feet don't dig into the dirt. They're not properly braced. Workers climb too high, past what is safe. Ladders are set up on unstable surfaces. These are just a few examples, but a fall from a ladder can be deadly.
Most falls in the workplace are entirely preventable. The issue is that someone did not take the proper steps, before the fall occurred, to make sure that the workplace was safe.