Working in construction can be very rewarding, but it can also be dangerous. Construction injuries and fatalities from falls on a site account for 25% of the construction accidents in New York.  These falls are costly and often deadly – and they are completely preventable.

If you work in construction, here are some things that you can do to protect yourself and your co-workers from preventable construction site injury:

  1. Check the equipment. Construction employers are required by New York and federal law to provide employees with fall-protection equipment whenever they are working 6 feet or more above a lower level.  If you or a co-worker are going to be working on multiple levels, check for safety equipment such as guardrails, a personal fall arrest harness, etc.
  2. Get trained. It’s not enough to have the equipment if you don’t know how to use it properly. Make sure that you know how to properly set up and use all of the fall protection equipment available.
  3. Inspect the equipment. Make sure that all of the safety equipment works exactly as it is supposed to work, before you trust it with your personal safety.
  4. Working on a roof? Use a personal fall arrest harness. Make sure that it fits properly and is regularly inspected. Check that your anchor points are safe, and that any openings are protected or covered.
  5. Working on a scaffold? Be sure that you and your co-workers know how to properly set up the scaffold, including how to install guardrails. Make sure that the scaffold has stable footing and is level before you climb.
  6. Working on a ladder? Be sure that you are using the right ladder for the job. The ladder should be high enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on the top rung. If you are using the ladder to access another level, secure and extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe handhold. Secure the bottom of the ladder, and use safety cones or barriers to ensure that passersby don’t walk under or near your ladder.

Construction site falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. And they are preventable! Protect yourself, and insist that your employer protect you, too.

For more information on safely working at height, visit osha.gov/stopfalls.

Next in the Series:

After a Fall: Know Your Rights, and Protect Your Loved Ones