Falling Down on the Job
It’s generally understood that using a ladder presents a certain amount of risk.
- Among construction workers, about 81 percent of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms involve a ladder. 1
- About 40 percent of ladder-related injuries occur when a ladder slides out at the base due to an incorrect setup.2
But, did you know falls involving stairs are the next most common for the contractor industry? Falls around stairways happen when workers trip over equipment, slip on smooth stairs, or just take a misstep. And because the person is on the stairs, he or she can tumble quite a ways.
Although anyone who uses stairs (and that’s most of us!) is at risk for falls, contractors are routinely exposed to that hazard.
It’s been Federated Insurance’s experience that falls are the most common cause of workers compensation injury claims for contractors. Falls typically injure multiple body parts, but strains and sprains are the most common injury reported.
Everyone working around stairs should be aware of the risk and keep in mind these fall prevention basics:
- Running or taking two steps at a time is risky. Slow down, plant your foot firmly on each step, and don’t take the next step until you know your foot won’t slip. Use a handrail when available.
- Make sure your footwear has good traction. Smooth soles can add to your chances of falling.
- When carrying tools and materials, make sure your load is not too much to handle. If it’s an “oversized load,” make multiple trips or ask for help. Bundle the items so nothing creates a tripping hazard. Dangling cords, dropped tools, or items swinging around your legs can easily trip you.
- No horseplay around stairs!
If someone falls, everyone at your company is affected in one way or another. Some may need to work longer hours. A replacement may need to be hired and trained. And somebody needs to file the work comp claim, and stay in contact with the injured employee to make sure he/she gets the necessary medical help. Isn’t it just easier to prevent the accident in the first place?
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) April 25, 2014 / 63(16); 341-346; http://www.cdc.gov/Mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6316a2.htm?s_cid=mm6316a2_w; accessed 6/2/2014
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Workplace Safety & Health Topics, FALL INJURIES PREVENTION IN THE WORKPLACE; http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls/mobileapp.html ; accessed 6/2/2014
This article is only for general information and recommendations regarding risk prevention and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations presented may help reduce or eliminate the risk of loss, but are not guaranteed to do so. Seek qualified counsel with questions specific to your circumstances. ©2016 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.
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