Billions of dollars are spent each year on worker’s compensation benefits and the medical costs associated with falls on the job. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes fall injuries are a serious problem across a number of industries, especially in construction.
According to the OSHA website, there were 291 fatal accidents to construction workers in 2013, all resulting from a fall to a lower level. For this reason, OSHA has developed strict standards for the industry, including the use of harnesses and other fall prevention equipment. The agency also maintains that having safety equipment is not enough – the employer needs to take the responsibility for teaching workers how to use it as well.
Construction workers may have the highest risk of death from work-related fall accidents, but other workplace environments that may seem safe also pose a risk of falling for employees. The health service and wholesale and retail industries are cited as the highest count of non-fatal fall injuries in the workplace. Nurses in the nursing home industry, for example, are at an increased risk of fall injury, most resulting from accidents that could have been prevented with proper safety measures in place.
Accidents in Other Industries
Another industry with a high incidence of fall accidents in the workplace is the wholesale and retail trade. Reasons cited for this include a lack of fall prevention equipment and training. Standards set in place include guidance on maintaining safe walking and working surfaces, including stairways, to prevent falls. Hand rails on stair rails and traction stickers are some of the recommended practices mentioned in order to help prevent slips and falls in a retail and wholesale work environment.
Falls are a consistent problem in all occupational settings according to the OSHA, because they can result from common acts such as changing a ceiling light bulb or retrieving a box from a high shelf. Because of the circumstances that surround each fall, the range and extremity of injury will differ dramatically, but all that require medical care will cost the employer.
To alleviate these costs and avoid higher worker’s compensation premiums, employers should be taking every precaution to reduce the risk. This means training as well as the introduction of fall prevention equipment in the workplace.
Best Safety Practices
Adopting safety standards to avoid falls in your business is not only a good practice to protect your employees, it also protects your business from financial losses. Conduct your own comprehensive safety test in your workplace, identify the possible fall risks, and correct them now in order to avoid injury and worker’s comp claims in the future.