Safety When Working at Heights

August 22, 2019

Those who work at heights are at risk of suffering serious injuries or fatal falls. In the construction industry, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. In 2017, 887 workers died because of falls – the highest number recorded in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Employers are required to follow safety regulations pertaining to working at heights however fall protection remains one of the most frequently cited Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) violations. It is therefore important for both employers and workers to be aware of the proper safety precautions to take when working at heights.

Industry Requirements

OSHA sets forth different requirements for fall protection depending on the industry. Employers in the general industry must provide fall protection for elevations of four feet. Protection must be provided at five feet in the shipyard industry, at six feet in the construction industry, and at eight feet in longshoring operations. However, regardless of the fall distance, employers must provide fall protection whenever workers deal with dangerous equipment and machinery.

Employers may also be required to provide additional fall protections for employees working at heights, such as:

  • Control zones
  • Designated areas
  • Floor hole guards
  • Guard rails
  • Hand-rails
  • Hazard assessments
  • Safety harness and lines
  • Safety nets
  • Stair railings
  • Toe-boards
  • Warning lines

Safety Tips for Working at Heights

OSHA provides guidance when it comes to preventing falls from heights. In addition to conventional measures such as personal fall protection systems, employers should also:

  • Comply with scaffolding safety requirements – One of the most common reasons scaffolding accidents occur is due to inadequate support; employers should therefore ensure that load-bearing planks are secured, and scaffolding is properly installed.
  • Ensure workers use ladders properly – When workers use the wrong type of ladder, do not ensure that ladders are properly supported, or ignore weight restrictions, they put themselves risk of being injured in ladder accidents.
  • Inspect and maintain equipment – Employers should regularly inspect and maintain all equipment to ensure that it is in safe working condition.
  • Provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) – Employers must provide workers with the proper PPE for the job – different PPE may be required depending on a worker’s height, the height at which he or she is working, and the task to be performed.
  • Train workers – Workers must be trained on both the hazards of working at heights and the proper safety precautions to take in order to prevent injury.
  • Use caution when selecting an anchor point – Having the right anchor point is essential to protecting employees from fall hazards.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Assist Those Injured While Working at Heights

If you sustained fall injuries when working at heights, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be eligible for benefits including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

We represent injured workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenolden, HaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.