Stop Construction Falls

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University of Tennessee

Summary Statement

This online PowerPoint by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville's Construction Industry Research and Policy Center is part of a major national campaign to prevent falls in construction work that OSHA, NIOSH and CPWR initiated in 2012. This presentation focuses on three actions to prevent falls: planning the work, providing proper fall protection gear and training the workers. The presentation has numerous links to resources targeting small to medium-sized contractors.

The Construction Industry Research and Policy Center (CIRPC)

In partnership with: The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and others.

Stop Construction Falls1

  • One out of every 3 construction fatalities is fall- related.
  • In 2010, 246 construction workers were killed from falls (a rate of more than 3 per 100,000 workers).
  • Construction workers are six times more likely to be killed by a work-related fall than from a texting driver accident.2

Fall fatality rates in selected construction occupations3

  • Ironworkers - 38.7 per 100,000
  • Roofers - 23.8 per 100,000
  • Laborers - 7.5 per 100,000
  • All construction workers - 3.8 per 100,000

Economic damages from falls include:

  • Lost or reduced wages for employees
  • Lost productivity resulting from the accident and subsequent investigations
  • Increased insurance and administrative costs
  • OSHA penalties

What can be done to prevent falls?

Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction Logo

This national campaign to prevent falls in construction is a government-labor-management partnership including CPWR, NIOSH, OSHA, state government, private industry, trade associations, academia, professional and labor organizations.

Falls are the #1 cause of work-related deaths in construction and a leading cause of injuries. They can be prevented.

  1. How?
  2. Plan
  3. Provide
  4. Train

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely

When working from heights, such as ladders, scaffolds, and roofs, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely.

Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.

When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site.

For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

PROVIDE the right equipment

Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall.

To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.

Different ladders and scaffolds are appropriate for different jobs. Always provide workers with the kind they need to get the job done safely.

For roof work, there are many ways to prevent falls. If workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor.

Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect all fall protection equipment to ensure it's still in good condition and safe to use.

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

Falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment, so they need training on the specific equipment they will use to complete the job.

Employers must train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they'll be using on the job.

OSHA and others provide numerous materials and resources that employers can use to train workers on safe practices to avoid falls in construction.

Falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps:

  • Plan
  • Provide
  • Train

Construction industry sectors have different training needs

Use the following links to explore training opportunities for your sector:

Bridge construction

Commercial Construction


Toolbox Talks

Safety Pays. Falls Cost.

Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction Logo

  • Plan
  • Provide
  • Train

1 The Construction Industry Research & Policy Center (CIRPC) is proud to be a partner in the Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction. This campaign is a collaborative effort spearheaded by The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This safety presentation was compiled by CIRPC primarily from materials available from CPWR, NIOSH, and OSHA.

2 NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, Distracted Driving 2009, September 2010; (there were approximately 1000 annual fatalities from texting and thus an implied rate of 0.5 per 100,000 among 200 million licensed U.S. drivers)

3 CPWR The Construction Chart Book, 4th Edition, pg. 37