November 2002

The myths and facts about falls | Essentials

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The myths and facts about falls

by Leslie Kazmierowski, CPCU
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Falls cause the largest number of fatalities—about 28 percent—in the construction industry per year. There always are a number of factors involved with falls, including unstable work surfaces and human error. Roofing workers have the fifth-highest work-related death rate in construction with an average of 30 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. This is about twice the average for all other construction trades.

Studies have shown the use of guardrails, fall-arrest systems and other fall-protection systems can prevent deaths and injuries, but many roofing contractors and workers still are misinformed about falls. Following are several myths and facts about falls. All statistics are according to data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Myth: Roofing workers on residential (steep-slope) projects don't get hurt often.

Fact: Roof edge falls account for half of all roofing-related fall deaths. For residential roofing workers, roof edge falls account for 70 percent of work-related fall deaths. In addition, residential roofing workers have about twice the percentage of fatal falls from ladders compared with...

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