It is estimated that there are approximately a quarter of a million workplace injuries in Canada annually. In fact, it’s difficult to know exactly how many there are due the number of unreported incidents.
Of those reported, however, an astounding 42,000 workers are injured due to fall-related injuries. In fact, more than 50% of workplace fatalities are from falls 25 feet or less. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Board, this number is significant because it represents almost 20% of “time-loss” injuries.
This in turn, affects budget, completion dates, insurance, and workflow. So let’s start with what we know. Here are eight fall prevention tactics that you can implement today:
- In most jurisdictions and depending on the situation, you are required to be tied off at 3 metres. That being said, it might not seem like a tremendous height, but best practices recommend that workers be tied off if they are above 2 metres. This takes us right into our second point: perceived risk.
- Most injuries occur during the daily, repetitive tasks that workers perform almost absentmindedly. When thinking about safety around your site, assess the level of perceived risk by your team. Sometimes the most mundane tasks can be the deadliest.
- Slips & Trips: some of the most common workplace injuries are from a low height. Inspect your equipment before each use, replace old or damaged equipment, and make sure all legal certifications and third party inspections (as applicable) are up to date and documented.
- Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully, even if you’ve been using the “same old” equipment for years. Updates and innovations may be turning that “familiar” piece of equipment into a new tool, with a new learning curve and new associated dangers, so take note.
- Check please! Make sure you check, double check and re-check your equipment. Rope wears over time so pay close attention to frayed ends and distorted or torn parts of the equipment. Need a reminder? Install clear instructional signage, warning /hazard signs, and make sure training sessions are held as often as needed.
- Whether you are indoors or out, any work environment can contain fall and trip hazards. Always keep an eye for general cleanliness, debris, even common workplace items (cords, lunch boxes, tools, etc.) that are in the way.
- General housekeeping is also an easy chore to avoid or put off so keep it as a regular task in your workflow and make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Conduct regular inspections and always be looking for signs of messiness like greasy soles, unkempt tools boxes or work areas, and equipment that is not up to standard.
- Lighting: as a general rule, you’ll want to find the right balance between natural and artificial light. Of course, when high up on a ladder outside, for example, this can’t always be achieved. Turn your focus instead to protective eyewear with appropriate UVA/UVB blockage.
Bonus Tip: Are your workers tired?
Similar to perceived risk, being tired on the job is something we’ve all experienced and probably take it as just a part of life. But as the manager, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on extreme cases of fatigue. This goes for injuries that might not be reported as well. Many people don’t report minor strains, but it can lead to bigger, more serious injuries because of muscle fatigue or slow reaction time. Don’t let casual comments about muscle strain or minor injuries go unchecked.
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