Falls Remain Deadliest Hazard for Workers

June 5, 2018

Falls have consistently been one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities for over 11 years, according to a study recently released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH reports that falls are the second-leading cause of fatal work accidents in the United States, accounting for 14 percent of all worker fatalities.

Falls are also the leading cause of death in the construction industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The NIOSH study examined fatal falls listed in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from 2003 to 2014. They used the Current Population Survey to estimate the rates across different occupations and for different groups of workers. During that time period, they found that 8,880 full-time equivalent workers – an annual rate of 5.5 per one million – were fatally injured from falls.

The highest number of fatalities were from construction and extraction, which accounted for an average of 42.2 deaths; installation, maintenance and repair accounted for an average of 12.5 deaths.

The most common types of fall were falls to a lower level, which resulted in 7,521 deaths, followed by 1,128 falls on the same level. Then, all other types of falls, which amounted to 231 deaths. The BLS also notes the prevalence of falls to a lower level; it reports that they accounted for 370 out of 991 construction fatalities in 2016.

NIOSH researchers also reported that 45 percent of fatal falls to a lower level happened in organizations with 10 or fewer employees, and that Hispanics, men, and older workers experienced higher fall rates.

Safety and Prevention Challenges

The study’s authors stated that preventing fatal work injuries from falls remains a challenge – one that necessitates collaboration amongst regulators, industry regulators, professional associations, labor unions, employers, employees, safety professionals, and researchers. The authors recommend that employers follow the guidelines set forth by the National Fall Prevention Campaign (NFPC) – a collaboration amongst NIOSH, the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration (OSHA), and the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

The NFPC guidelines state that employers should do the following:

  • Reduce or remove fall hazards whenever possible
  • Provide safety equipment for those working at heights of six feet or higher
  • Educate workers on fall hazards
  • Train workers on the proper use of safety equipment

OSHA also suggests that employers plan ahead to ensure that work is done safely by deciding how tasks will be completed and which safety equipment is necessary for each task.

Additionally, OSHA recommends that workers be provided with the appropriate kinds of ladders, scaffolds and other safety gear necessary in order to get the job done safely. For example, personal fall arrest systems may be a suitable option for workers who are exposed to vertical drops of six feet or more. Employers should ensure that each worker’s PFAS fits and that they are subject to regular safety inspections.

Members of the NFPC hope that by following NFPC and other applicable OSHA guidelines, employers will be able to prevent more deaths from falls.

Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Injured from Falls

If you were injured in a fall accident at work, contact a Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced legal team can help you get the compensation you deserve. We proudly represent injured workers throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Berks CountyBensalem CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery County, and Philadelphia County. To discuss your case, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.

Our legal team provides skilled representation to those residing in and around AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenolden, HaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.