Falls are a major danger in the workplace, and distressingly common. In 2014, 261,930 workers missed at least one day of work from falls, according to the Labor Department. 798 workers died. Falls most commonly occur in the healthcare, retail, and wholesale industries, but the highest frequency of fall deaths occurs in the construction sector. According to the Centers for Disease Control, America spends roughly $70 billion is spent every year in medical costs and workers’ compensation expenses due to falls. One in six workplace injuries that cause lost time are slips, trips, and falls.
Falls often result from poor lighting, uneven or obstructed surfaces, improper fall protection use, slippery surfaces covered in oil or water, and weather hazards. Bureau of Labor Statistics drop figures show that 15% of fatal falls involve a drop of of 10 feet or fewer; 59%, 11-30 feet; 17%, 31-50 feet; and 15%, of 51 or more feet. Older workers are especially vulnerable to fall deaths and injuries. Workers over 55 years old make up only 12% of the workforce but suffer 26% of workplace deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Falls are the leading source of traumatic brain injuries among older workers.
Employers are required to train employees that might be exposed to fall hazards. Careful cleaning, proper use of fall protection equipment, and ladder placement are all good ways to prevent fall injuries. When using fall protection equipment, always make sure that the harnesses are fitted correctly.