Five Industries that Would Benefit from Fall Detection
Different industries face different challenges and dangers, but there are some like the threat of falls that unfortunately exist across many industries.
- By Gen Handley
- Aug 26, 2020
In 2018, close to 900 workers were injured from falls, slips and trips on the job, across many industries in the US. Some of the industries where falls make the biggest impact are: construction, utilities and public works, water and wastewater management, agriculture and the broad category of energy. Fall protection obviously comes in many shapes and forms, but we will focus each industry, looking at the safety essentials for their unique circumstances.
Those who build our homes
Construction is a major industry in this country, employing more than 7 million workers and building close to $1.3 trillion worth of structures each year. On top of being a major contributor to the economy, it is also an industry with a major number of fall-related injuries and deaths with 259 fatalities and more than 20,000 nonfatal injuries in 2017. According to Injury Facts, those in the construction industry work in conditions where fatal falls from height is more than seven times the rate of other industries. Employers can use guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems that will help protect these workers – protections that are complimented by worker monitoring system.
Those who keep our electricity and clean water flowing
Those working in the utilities and public works sector are our unsung heroes, keeping our needed electricity and clean water running for ourselves and our families. Unfortunately, they are also exposed to a high potential for fall injuries. These employees must be mindful of working surfaces and conditions, and follow proper ladder and harness safety. Some general tips to avoiding these injuries include:
- Install railings and handles where possible trips and slips could occur.
- Ensure views are unobstructed and clear.
- Maintain your flooring and walkways so they are in good condition
- Encourage staff to be mindful when walking, and do not rush or run.
- Encourage staff to take wide turns at corners.
- Equip staff with flashlights so they can see where they’re going in dark areas.
- Place mops and cleaning equipment throughout workplace to clean up spills.
- Provide harnesses and other equipment (with training) for those working from heights.
For those working for the electrical industry, they obviously face the daily hazards of electrocution and burns, but because they’re working from dangerous heights, they experience injury and even death from falls, even falling from a ladder after touching a live wire. According to a NFPA study, falls, slips, and/or trips were the number one cause of contract worker deaths with 34 percent accounting for all fatalities.
Those who come to our homes when we are sick
Especially during the era of COVID-19, we rely on the healthcare workers who come out to homes when we are unable to do so. When they come out the community, they are at risk of some dangerous hazards including violence, assault, musculoskeletal trauma, infected needles, and slips and falls.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2009 incidence rate of lost-workday injuries from slips and falls was close to 40 workers per 10,000 employees, which was 90 % greater than the average rate for all other private industries combined. And in a 2018 NCBI study, healthcare aids had experienced slips, trips or falls in or immediately outside their clients’ homes in the previous 12 months. This coming fall and winter, we may experience and second wave of COVID-19 and we need to protect those who will make sure we come out on the other side.
Those who put food on our tables
According to the CDC, agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries like falls from drowning in grain bins and other structures, tall ladders, and elevated equipment like combines and tractors. The Great Plains Centre for Agricultural Health says, rollovers were the most frequent mechanism of injury at 25 percent and followed by falls at 20 percent. Heat is also a major concern because it causes many falls and injuries, particularly during the hot summer months. The first step is to identify all of the hazards on your agricultural operation and look at employing fall protections in place like safety harnesses and lifelines, guardrails or barriers, travel restraints that limit a worker's movement beyond a safe area, and/or an automated fall-detection system.
Those who heat our homes and fuel our transportation
Especially during the frigid winter (depending on where you live) it’s hard not be thankful for the oil and gas, and energy workers who keep the heat flowing in our homes and workplaces. These workers are so important that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires fall protection for all oil and gas workers to prevent falls from the mast, drilling platform, and other elevated equipment. To combat this issue, the American Petroleum Institute recommends the following steps be taken:
- Use appropriate fall protection safety devices when working above a certain height (typically > 4 to 6 ft above working surface) or when immediate fall hazards are present.
- Always inspect fall protection equipment for visible defects before use and do not use equipment again once it has arrested a fall.
- Workers should be trained in the use of, and inspection of, fall protection devices before using.
- Secure all tools and equipment before ascending.
- Wear a full body harness.
- Assure that the anchor point can withstand a 5,000 pound load.
Worker safety across the board
While each industry has its own specific hazards, there are general steps that every employer can - and should - take to protect their workers including a strong worker safety program, a thorough assessment of any safety hazards, a strong workplace safety culture as well as an easy-to-use fall-detection system that will signal an alert if any fall event should occur within their team.