National Stand-Down: Falls


May7-11 each year is National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Slips and falls are one of the most frequent causes of accidents both on and off the job. Each year in the United States, more than 300,000 people suffer disabling injuries from falls. Slips and falls can be fatal as well; they rank second only to automobile accidents, causing nearly 12,000 deaths a year. 


To avoid falls remember the following: 


Be aware of where you are walking. Look down continuously for spilled liquids, materials, equipment, changing surface levels, etc. Make sure the area is well-lit or use a flashlight if lighting is poor. 


Make sure your shoes are in good shape and correct for the job. Discard worn-out shoes with smooth soles and other defects. If conditions are wet and slippery, wear non-slip shoes or boots. Avoid footwear with leather soles which have poor floor traction--especially on smooth surfaces. 


Avoid unguarded floor openings. On construction sites, when covers are placed over floor openings, avoid walking on the cover unless it is secured and will not move or collapse. Never jump over pits or other openings.


Do not run when going up or downstairs. Check to see that stair treads are in good shape, with no obstructions on the steps. Always use the hand railings that are provided. Avoid carrying large loads when going up or down stairs and ensure that stairs are well-lit. 


Never use broken or defective ladders. Set the angle of the ladder at the proper four-to-one ratio (height to width angle). Make sure the ladder is on solid footing and will not move when you climb upon it. Whenever possible, tie your ladder to the structure to improve stability. Anchorage at the bottom is also a good idea. Never stand on the top two steps of a step ladder. 


Before use, ensure scaffolding is inspected by a documented competent inspector. Take the initiative to check the following yourself: 

  • Ensure it is secure, stable and correctly set-up. 
  • Check each guard rail to include midrail and toeboard, that each is secure and in place. 
  • Check the base for stability. 
  • Check to see if using wooden planks that they are in good shape and not cracked. 
  • Tall scaffolds should be tied into a structure to increase stability. 

Sometimes, even though you have tried to be careful, you will fall. Don't move until you are sure you haven't broken any bones. If, and only if, you are certain there are no broken bones get up slowly. Lastly make it a point to report the incident to a foreman, supervisor or manager at work and, if at home make sure a family member knows what has happened. 

For more information on fall prevention, please see this edition of
Wachs Weekly!