Worksite Accidents: A Preventable Problem
The construction industry accounted for almost 20% of workplace fatalities in 2021, with falls, slips and trips being responsible for slightly over one-third of these deaths. For managers and owners in the construction business, it’s a real problem. Worksite accidents can reflect poorly on your business, invite scrutiny, incur fines and cut into overall productivity.
To explore accident prevention solutions, we recently sat down with Dana Blose, Loss Control Director and head of the Builders Safety Academy to discuss this challenge, and he had a lot to say. Dana studied Industrial Technology at The University of Southern Maine, has worked within the insurance industry in loss control reporting and subsequently accumulated a decade of experience in safety and loss control within the context of insurance and construction. Today, Dana serves on the Builders Loss Control team, consulting with independent agents and construction professionals in jobsite safety. His expertise is vast.
|Interviewer:||“At Builders, worker safety remains a top priority. Nobody believes this more than Dana Blose, Loss Control Director at Builders. Now I really want to talk about accidents involving falls because we hear so many stories about how devastating they can be. But before we get to that I want to ask about general safety and prevention at Builders, what you do, and why it’s vital to our policyholders. So: can you tell me what sets Builders apart as a carrier?”|
|Dana:||“Builders stands out among other companies because our specialty in workers’ comp and construction over the last 31-plus years. The construction industry is highly complex and especially dangerous, and the accidents that occur are sometimes severe – if not fatal. Plus, as you hinted at, falls from heights can be especially deadly. Founded by homebuilders ourselves, we know the hazards, and we know what it takes to keep workers safe. And that’s just where we begin.”|
|Dana:||“So, what we offer at Builders is a more holistic approach. We offer real solutions to prevent and limit injuries on the jobsite that our customers rely upon to keep their business up-and-running. Our claim team delivers outstanding service when a worker is injured while keeping in mind that each claim represents a real person and their family, and has further impact on the business productivity and reputation. We go beyond cutting a check when something bad happens by working to reduce and eliminate injuries before they happen.”|
|Interviewer:||“So what kind of resources do you offer?”|
|Dana:||“We offer both policyholders and independent agents actionable training plans and programs from our own Builders Safety Academy – which includes a library of best practices from agencies spanning OSHA to DOT, training events, live webinars, instructional videos, all delivered to agents and jobsites through our consultative services. For workers’ safety, only a proactive approach will do.”|
|Interviewer:||“You just mentioned insurance agents in that mix, so tell me how Builders partners with agents to keep workers safe?|
|Dana:||“Our agents go well beyond offering reliable products to protect workers – they are the front line in helping keep workers safe. They know the jobs, they know the hazards and they know what solutions it takes to keep a business running.”|
|Interviewer:||“That seems to be a topic very near and dear to you.”|
|Dana:||“It is. The relationship we’ve developed with our agents and their clients fosters the foundation for safe jobsites. As a mutual owned by our policyholders, we look to provide tools and information to decrease work-related injuries – and so do our agents.”|
|Interviewer:||“Great. So, tell us more about the partnership between Builders and their insurance agents on safety and prevention. What does Builders offer agents in terms of safety? And what would be a good example of that?”|
|Dana:||“Good question. Agents are in a unique spot because they’re trusted advisors to the construction pros they serve. So, what we say to agents is: ‘look, your agency can host its very own safety training event for all your clients involved in dangerous work, and when you do, we’ll provide the safety training for your clients, such as a 10-Hour OSHA Class.’ This strengthens an agency’s bond with their clients and makes their teams safer and easier to insure in the long run. And again: workers fare better as well. It’s a win-win all around. More accident prevention is always better.”|
|Interviewer:||“Safety regulations might seem a bit broad and abstract to some, so is there a particular focus in accident prevention that policyholders would benefit most from improving?”|
|Dana:||“Yes! There certainly is one and you mentioned it at the beginning! It’s finally time to talk about falls from heights, so let me offer up some thoughts: If preventing falls is not a top safety priority for your site, it should be. Any decision-maker hoping to protect workers, mitigate accidents and improve their reputation should start there. Fall prevention entails tools like guardrails, harnesses and developing habits like keeping a sharp eye out for windows, debris, ledges and other hazards. So to help, I’ve listed off some recommendations for fall prevention that readers can put into practice on their jobsite.”|
|Interviewer:||“Well thanks! But why falls? Lots of different mishaps occur on the jobsite.”|
|Dana:||“It’s not just because falls are so devastating, as you mentioned earlier. Falls are among the most common types of workplace accidents, accounting for one third of construction fatalities, and so preventing that awful statistic is a crucial place to start.|
Ultimately, Builders is known for doing right by the injured worker. But do you know what’s better than sticking by the injured workers we insure?”
|Dana:||“Making sure that workers don’t become injured workers to begin with.”|
|Interviewer:||“Well said. So there you have it. Builders is unique among all other insurance companies because our team is dedicated to workplace safety and injury prevention, taking a proactive approach over a reactive one. That’s Insurance Built Strong. Thanks for joining us today.”|
|Dana:||“My pleasure. So, if I wave my hand, can you make a Builders Safety Academy link appear for the readers?”|
|Interviewer:||“I think that’s in our website budget. Give it a whirl.”|
|Dana:||“Did that work?”|
|Interviewer:||“We’ll know soon enough. Ok, now for that list of fall prevention recommendations—”|
|Dana:||“—Do I have to wave my hands again to make that list appear?”|
|Interviewer:||“That won’t be necessary, Dana. Hey, thanks for sitting down with us!”|
|Dana:||“My pleasure. I’m here to help. Now…Voilà!”|
Here are 14 measures Dana provided for preventing falls, based on recommendations from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and other subject matter experts:
- Foster a safety culture: Encourage a culture of safety by promoting open communication, providing regular safety meetings and training sessions, recognizing and rewarding safe behaviors and involving workers in the development and improvement of safety programs.
- Develop a comprehensive fall protection program: Establish a written program that outlines your company’s policies, procedures and training requirements related to fall prevention.
- Provide adequate training: Train all employees on fall hazards, prevention methods, proper use of equipment and emergency procedures. Ensure workers understand the importance of fall prevention and how to apply the knowledge in their daily tasks.
- Conduct regular job hazard assessments: Identify potential fall hazards at the worksite and assess the risks associated with each task. This will help you determine the appropriate control measures to implement.
Fall Prevention Methods
- Use guardrail systems: Install guardrails or barriers around open edges, roof perimeters and other elevated areas to prevent falls. Ensure they meet OSHA’s standards for height, strength, and construction.
- Utilize scaffolding safely: Erect and use scaffolding according to OSHA standards. Ensure proper assembly, stability and inspection of scaffolds. Train workers on safe work practices when using scaffolding.
It is estimated that 2.3 million construction workers, or 65% of the construction industry, frequently work atop scaffolds.
- Implement personal fall arrest systems (PFAS): Use PFAS, such as harnesses, lanyards and anchor points, when guardrail systems are not feasible. Train workers on the correct usage, inspection and maintenance of PFAS equipment.
- Use warning lines and safety monitors: Implement warning line systems or designated safety monitors in controlled access zones to prevent unauthorized access to areas where work is being performed at heights.
- Provide safe access and egress: Ensure workers have safe and secure access to elevated work areas using properly constructed ladders, stairs, scaffolds, or elevated platforms. Regularly inspect and maintain these access points.
- Inspect and maintain walking/working surfaces: Regularly inspect all walking and working surfaces, including floors, scaffolds, roofs and elevated platforms. Repair or replace any damaged or unstable surfaces promptly.
- Secure tools and materials: Implement measures to prevent tools, equipment and materials from falling. Use tool lanyards, tethering systems and debris nets to secure items at heights.
- Provide adequate lighting: Ensure that work areas are well-lit to enhance visibility and reduce the risk of tripping or falling due to poor lighting conditions.
- Promote good housekeeping: Maintain a clean and organized worksite, free from clutter, debris and tripping hazards. Encourage workers to promptly clean up spills, remove obstructions and report any potential hazards.
- Regularly inspect and maintain equipment: Conduct regular inspections and maintenance of all fall protection equipment, including guardrails, scaffolds, ladders, harnesses and lanyards. Replace or repair any damaged or faulty equipment immediately.
Remember, it is essential to comply with relevant regulations, standards and guidelines specific to your country or region, in addition to consulting with subject matter authorities to ensure comprehensive fall prevention measures are in place on your construction jobsite.
Further Workers’ Compensation Safety Resources
Improving jobsite safety is vital, but you might be reading this and wondering where to begin. Perhaps the easiest place to start is our Builders Safety Academy, which provides a whole raft of safety literature, live training, educational videos on demand and much more.
Beyond that, here are four valuable workers’ compensation safety resources in the United States that can provide information and support for workplace safety:
OSHA Technical Manual (OTM) | Section V: Chapter 4 | Fall Protection in Construction: This chapter delves into the technical aspects surrounding fall hazards and the methods used to safeguard against them. This information equips OSHA compliance officers with the knowledge necessary for effective inspections and investigations. Throughout this section, you’ll find convenient links to relevant OSHA standards. Full article.
Scaffolding eTool | Supported Scaffolds: This page deals with supported scaffolds, which are constructed using one or more platforms that rely on support from outrigger beams, brackets, poles, legs, uprights, posts, frames or other similarly rigid structures. Among these scaffold types, frame scaffolds are the most frequently encountered. Consequently, this eTool employs the frame module to outline requirements that apply universally to all supported scaffolds. Full article.
Scaffolding eTool | Frame or Fabricated Scaffolds: Fabricated frame scaffolds hold the distinction of being the most prevalent scaffold type due to their versatility, cost-effectiveness and user-friendly nature. Residential contractors, painters and various other tradespeople often employ them in either single or double tiers. However, their modular frames can also be assembled to reach several stories in height, making them an ideal choice for extensive construction projects. This training resource is designed to facilitate a thorough review of the safety guidelines pertaining to frame scaffolds. Full article.
Scaffolding eTool | Scissor Lifts: Scissor lifts serve as mobile supported scaffold work platforms, finding application across diverse industries like construction, retail, entertainment and manufacturing. They facilitate the safe vertical movement of workers and their relocation within various work environments. While scissor lifts share some safety concerns with stationary scaffolding when extended, ensuring their safe operation relies on a thorough understanding of equipment capabilities, limitations and the diligent practice of safety protocols. Full article.
These resources can serve as valuable references and guides for workplace safety initiatives and workers’ compensation-related information in the United States. Remember to consult the specific websites and resources for the most up-to-date information and guidance.
So far, we’ve provided quite a few resources for you. But if you ask our opinion, the best way to start protecting your team is to reach out for the personalized live training you need, provided by Dana Blose himself. Fortunately, this is only a click away. Take the plunge and improve your business for the better.
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