The construction industry experiences a higher frequency of workplace injuries than most sectors. Highlighting the need for improvement, falls, ladder accidents and scaffolding safety issues consistently rank as top concerns identified by OSHA each year. Given the indispensable nature of these tools in the construction sector, the industry must focus on improving these statistics.
Read on to learn valuable slip and fall prevention tips, protect the wellbeing of your construction workers and mitigate risks that can lead to costly claims and reputational damage.
Understanding Construction Slip & Fall Risks
Construction sites are inundated with slip and fall risks. Workers may experience a loss of balance from slippery surfaces, trip over objects obstructing pathways, or fall from a ladder or scaffolding. Winter weather conditions introduce additional risks with icy walkways and freezing temperatures. Watch for hazards such as:
- Water puddles
- Loose construction materials
- Grease, oil or sawdust
- Extension cords and cables
The Importance of Good Construction Housekeeping
A clean and organized work environment is important for efficiency and safety. Avoid employees tracking in snow and moisture by strategically placing doormats at building entrances to allow employees to clean off their shoes completely.
Be mindful of potential tripping hazards (e.g., trash, unused materials, objects left in walkways), as they pose a risk of accidents. Extension cords, tools, carts and other items should be removed or properly barricaded off. Instruct employees to identify and report any obstructions. Utilize trash barrels and recycling bins to keep passageways free of debris.
Enhancing Slip & Trip Safety Through Prevention
Walking in designated areas and staying focused on surroundings are fundamental safety practices. Reinforce to workers that engaging in horseplay or taking shortcuts through the job site is an invitation for accidents. Train employees to seek spotting assistance from coworkers when carrying heavy loads that hamper their vision.
Falls from elevated positions (e.g., ladders, scaffolding) can have severe consequences. It’s important to incorporate ladder and scaffolding safety into your risk management program. Require employees to adhere to the following ladder guidelines:
- Select a ladder of the appropriate length and ensure it’s in good condition.
- Place the ladder on a stable surface; avoid placing it on machinery, crates, stock or boxes.
- Ensure the ladder’s base is positioned one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height.
- Avoid overreaching while on the ladder.
- Maintain balance and control over your body when working from a ladder.
- Never climb a ladder with your hands full.
- Always transport tools using the appropriate carrying devices.
Scaffolding entails additional risks that require careful consideration and proper mitigation. Prevent these risks by:
- Ensuring scaffolding is properly assembled according to the manufacturer’s specifications
- Thoroughly inspecting for defects and that standing and working planks are level and clean
- Utilizing toe boards to prevent tools from falling and workers from slipping
- Promptly reporting any instances of improper use of scaffold safety measures
Winter-Specific Construction Slip & Fall Precautions
Winter months present unique construction hazards, stemming from the presence of snow and ice. These conditions significantly heighten the likelihood of slips and falls, which can cause severe worker injuries. Therefore, it’s imperative to undertake appropriate precautions during this season. Suggestions to prevent winter-related slip and fall incidents:
- Invest in footwear designed for snow and ice, featuring slip-resistant materials (e.g., rubber or steel). Avoid plastic and leather-soled shoes or boots.
- Exercise caution when entering and exiting vehicles, using them for balance and support.
- Adhere to designated safe foot traffic areas, looking ahead to identify potential hazards.
- Avoid challenging inclines as they may be more treacherous in winter conditions.
- Take careful, deliberate steps to maintain a center of balance and walk slowly. Refrain from keeping hands in your pockets to maintain balance and react promptly if a fall occurs.
- Utilize handrails, walls or anything stationary to assist in stability.
- Test potentially slippery areas by tapping your foot before committing to a step. Avoid roof edges, floor openings and other drop-offs.
- Dry your shoes or boots on floor mats when entering a building to remove excess moisture.
- Report any slip and fall hazards immediately.
Slip & Fall Insurance Protection
Construction worker injuries can be severe, leading to costly medical expenses, lost wages and potential employer liability issues. It’s important to collaborate with a trusted insurance advisor who specializes in the construction sector. These professionals understand the intricacies of your industry and can tailor an insurance program to meet your company’s unique needs. By selecting the appropriate insurance coverage, you can safeguard your company from potential financial exposures while ensuring adequate protection for worker injuries.
We’re Here to Help Prevent Worksite Slips & Falls
Safety on construction sites is a collective effort. Slips and falls are preventable with the right knowledge, good housekeeping practices and preventive actions. Connect with a member of our team for additional slip-and-fall tips to empower your team to stay safe during the coldest months.