Why It’s Important to Manage Fall Risks on a Commercial Construction Site

Despite major improvements in safety standards, commercial construction remains one of the most dangerous industries. In 2021, no other industry experienced more workplace deaths. While there are many factors that can jeopardize safety in a construction environment, the leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities is falling. Falling remains the number one hazard on OSHA’s Fatal Four List.

Fall risks are a part of almost every construction site; however, these risks are even greater when installing framing on a large, complex commercial building, which is the type of project Unique Building Group (UBG) works on every day. As a result, mitigating fall risks and practicing industry-leading safety standards is our top priority.

What Is A Fall Hazard?

Fall hazards are anything on the work site that could cause someone to lose balance or support and ultimately fall. The most common fall hazards are ladders, scaffolds, and unprotected edges and openings; however, any surface, including the ground-level floor, can actually be a fall hazard. In construction, falls most often occur due to:

  • Unprotected edges, holes, or openings
  • Failure to correctly use fall protection equipment
  • Slippery, cluttered, or unstable floors or surfaces

Falls can happen when walking or climbing, and they can also occur at any elevation; however, falls from heights are often more dangerous. As a result, OSHA considers any work done at a height of four or more feet to be a risk

How Do Mitigate Fall Risk On A Commercial Construction Site

The most effective way to avoid falling on a commercial construction site is by following OSHA safety protocols around fall prevention and fall protection as well as maintaining a clear work site. 

  • Fall Prevention – Consists of protocols, controls, and practices that prevent falls from happening in the first place. Proper fall prevention techniques include training, education, and following safety procedures. For example, OSHA requires fall protection be provided any time a worker is working more than four feet above ground in a general industry and six feet above ground in construction. Fall protection must always be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery. 
  • Fall Protection – There are three acceptable methods of fall protection on a commercial construction site.
    • Guardrails – The most common prevention system, guardrails are placed along edges, holes, and openings, and they stop you from falling in the first place.
    • Safety Net Systems – If you do fall, a safety net system is designed to break your fall. Safety nets should be positioned directly below the working area and as close to the working surface as possible (never more than 30 feet below the surface).
    • Personal Fall Arrest System – These wearable systems also kick into action if you do fall. A fall arrest system contains a full-body harness, an anchorage, and connector. The system activates when a worker falls and ultimately breaks the fall. 

It’s the construction company’s job to provide workers with functioning fall protection equipment, and at UBG, we take that responsibility very seriously. We always ensure our equipment is tested regularly and in good condition. Fall protection is required when working at certain heights or in certain circumstances. For example, if you’re working on scaffolding that 10 feet or higher, both guardrails and a personal fall arrest system is required.

It’s also essential for workers to undergo regular fall protection and prevention training.

Why Managing Fall Risk Is So Important

Because fall risks are the most common cause of injury and death in commercial construction, managing the risk is critical for both worker safety and job site performance. The health and safety of construction workers is paramount and having the right systems and equipment to prevent fall risks is essential for keeping them safe.

Additionally, job site accidents can also lead to costly project delays, which can have both performance and budget impacts. In order for a commercial construction subcontractor to deliver strong results on the job, preventing falls through robust safety procedures is critical.

The good news is falls are entirely preventable.  By eliminating hazards, ensuring fall protection equipment is in place, and educating workers, construction companies can easily maintain a strong safety record.  In order to protect our workers, our partner’s workers, and deliver high-quality results, UBG always makes safety and fall prevention our number one priority.

If you’re looking to partner with a complex framing subcontractor with an excellent safety record, get in touch with UBG today.