CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In the past three years, there have been six deaths related to construction falls in West Virginia, according to a study released by Charleston’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration office.
Connie Brown, director of OSHA Charleston, said these falls continue to be the leading cause of death for construction workers.
Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. In addition to those who have died, more than 10,000 construction workers are injured as a result of a fall.
Brown said most of the workers who are out in the field are people that “take short cuts” when trying to complete a task quickly by not using the fall protections provided. She said, sometimes, those protections are not even provided at work sites.
“A lot of these are smaller employers that are just not able to be on site to enforce the rules and regulations or they might have multiple sites and they can’t be in all places at once,” said Brown.
Brown said a fall is preventable through what she calls a “plan, provide and train” system.
“The best protection a worker can have is an employer who takes the time and effort to plan ahead, provide the correct fall prevention equipment and train each worker in the proper use of that equipment,” she said.
According to the study, fall hazard related inspections have comprised nearly 25% of total inspections done by OSHA in West Virginia this year, which is up from about 15% in 2014. The Charleston OSHA office has completed 45 fall inspections as of May 5 of this year.
Last week, OSHA held its second annual National Fall Safety Stand-Down event to raise awareness about preventing these types of falls. The voluntary event was for employers to take the time to discuss the importance of safety to their employees.
“Terrible injuries and even deaths can happen at a 10 foot height, so you have to wear the proper equipment, you have to use the ladders appropriately. If you can’t use a safety harness, look at safety nets,” said Brown, “The main thing is this is preventable.”