While millions of people go to work inside buildings that can be hundreds of feet tall, there are countless others who work on top or along the outer walls of those buildings. They are the window washers, the construction workers, and the roofers, who make working in these buildings possible.
More than 14% of all fatal work injuries in 2011 were caused by falls, slips, or trips from elevated areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths in the United States. If you work on roofs, ladders, scaffolding, or any other place that is off the ground, here are ways you can keep yourself safe.
The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is on Securely!
Most falling injuries reported are in the construction industry. That’s why it’s important to always wear a properly fitted harness. Keep it connected and inspect harnesses before working on the roof of any building.
Guardrails or toe boards should be present when working around holes or skylines. Even if you aren’t on a roof, rails are important to keeping workers from falling into machinery or hazardous substances even if they are only a few feet above the ground.
If none of these safety measures are available, do not get on the roof until they are provided.
There’s a lot that goes into ladder safety like choosing the correct placement, securing, and facing the ladder. But you can greatly reduce your chances of falling off a ladder by planning ahead. Work with your supervisor to determine which type of equipment should be provided, the best places to put the ladder, and how to share that information with the rest of your co-workers. Avoiding injury can be contagious if others see you following the rules.
Don’t Scoff the Scaffold
Just like equipment used on roofs, scaffolds should always be inspected to make sure they are level, stable, and fully planked. The guardrails should be completed along the entire edge of the scaffolds and should always have an easily accessed area to properly climb one. If there is no defined entrance, workers may begin to climb the cross braces, which are meant to evenly support the beams, not directly support bodyweight.
Scaffolds should always be the correct height needed for you to do your job. If something isn’t high enough, contact your manager or project lead. You shouldn’t have to risk more injury by standing on the guardrails or placing a ladder on top of the scaffolds to reach a high point.
Working high above the ground is a necessity. Some of the hardest working people put themselves at risk every day to make sure the job gets done. If you follow these safety guidelines, you’ll be able to complete jobs successfully throughout your career