For residential construction workers, falls are the leading cause of death. To try and better protect workers, researchers have been particularly interested in how to prevent these falls from happening in the first place.
Recently, researchers looked at what options are available to prevent falls and why these prevention options are not more widely used on construction sites.
According to statistics from the American Society of Safety Engineers, in 2011 falls accounted for not only 64 percent of fatalities in residential building, but made up 100 percent of fatalities among framing contractors. This may have something to do with the fact that some framers find it harder to properly anchor a harness when working at high heights. However, it could also have to do with the fact that many skip safety due to productivity concerns.
In this recent research, safety audits were conducted at close to 200 residential sites. At these sites, the average compliance rate for fall protection and prevention was just 59 percent. This means many are bypassing safety recommendations.
In looking at why some are choosing to not following fall protection and prevention measures, among the reasons listed, productivity -- as mentioned before -- made the list. The fear is taking the time to learn new safety measures could lead to an increase in how long it takes to build a house. The thought is with the current economy, no one can afford the extra time.
In addition to the possible effect on productivity, resistance to change and a lack of time, money and knowledge related to the implementation of fall protection options was also listed as reasons why fall protection solutions are not always implemented on these sites.
Looking to the future, the hope is those with the building components and fall protection device manufacturing industries start working more closely together in order to come up with viable solutions to better protect construction workers from injuries and deaths caused by falls.