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The Impact of Slip-And-Fall Accidents In the Construction Industry

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Admin

Construction is an essential industry in the U.S. Not only is it one of the largest industries in the country, but it contributes around $1.6 trillion to the economy. The construction industry employs more than 7 million people, making construction workers 4.7% of the total workforce.

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Construction builds infrastructure and shapes skylines. It attracts residents and investments. But there is a massive problem marring this economic progress.

Construction work is dangerous, with on-site falls being a leading cause of worker injury and death. Typically, falls from heights make the news, but slip-and-fall accidents are equally devastating to employees and the industry. In 2020, 31 out of 10,000 construction employees suffered injuries after slipping, tripping, and falling at work.

This rate is 50% higher than other industries in the U.S. And, worse, 20% of on-site deaths happen in the construction industry as well.

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The Prevalence Of Slip and Fall Accidents

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the alarming picture together. In 2021, around 1 in 5 workplace deaths occurred in construction. A third of these happened due to trips, slips, and falls. A large number of falls occur at ground level, which highlights the prevalence of slip-and-fall accidents.

Deaths are the most tragic outcomes of these falls, but non-fatal injuries are more frequent. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated that slips and falls account for nearly one-third of all reported workplace injuries. They also account for almost 40% of fatalities in the construction industry.

Injuries typically involve broken bones, sprains, neck injuries, and more, leading to increased medical costs and lost wages. These injuries put a complete strain on overall worker productivity and morale.

Moreover, the CPWR (Center for Construction Research and Training) revealed that slip and fall accidents cost the construction industry at least $24 billion annually.

Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Construction sites are some of the most dynamic work environments. Hazards come and go, but when they are not removed efficiently, they can cause slip-and-fall accidents.

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For example, uneven surfaces are common on construction sites. Loose gravel and debris usually cover these surfaces as well. This creates a significant risk for slips and trips.

Furthermore, spilled liquids can create slick floors and surfaces. When workers carry heavy materials wearing heavy or plastic boots, it is easier for them to slip on these surfaces.

Construction sites are also cluttered with said materials, waste, and tools. Sometimes, workers do not adhere to the rules of maintaining an organized workspace, which increases the risk of tripping over obstacles.

When there is inadequate lighting on a construction site, typically at night, obstacles become all but invisible to workers. This may cause them to trip and fall unexpectedly.

Additionally, when workers do not wear the correct safety boots (slip-resistant) or if they opt for worn-out shoes, they are in danger of slipping and falling on-site.

Workers who work on elevated surfaces without guardrails or safety nets can also suffer severe slip-and-fall accidents.

Consequences of Slip-and-Fall Accidents

The consequences of slip and fall injuries are vast and often severe. As mentioned earlier, slip and fall accidents can cause anything from minor sprains to broken bones. They can also cause head trauma, spinal cord damage, and death.

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Serious injuries leave workers with long-term health and mobility issues and loss of income. The families of workers who die because of slip and fall accidents have to carry on without a breadwinner. Not to mention, families will also have to deal with the impact of the ongoing trauma and grief.

In both instances, medical bills will pile up, placing a burden on workers and their families. Ongoing medical care and rehabilitation for severe injuries become a lifelong expense.

Continuous slip-and-fall accidents decrease morale and make other workers scared of working on-site. This leads to productivity declines and a reduction in safety culture.

This is made worse by legal disputes and worker compensation claims arising from construction accidents.

Preventing Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Fortunately, slip-and-fall accidents are preventable. Construction companies, big and small, must implement and enforce safety measures and establish a culture of safety awareness. This way, they can reduce the number of incidents, both minor and severe.

Construction sites should be inspected regularly to identify and remove slip and fall hazards. This means checking surfaces for unevenness and ensuring drainage to minimize slippery conditions. It also means implementing a system that creates an organized work environment.

Fall protection systems must stay in place for all workers who work at heights. This includes guardrails and safety nets as well as harnesses.

Housekeeping should be a part of the daily construction activities. Workers must remove debris daily to keep walkways clear. If there is a spill or leak, workers should clean it up immediately.

Furthermore, all construction workers must wear safety gear and shoes at all times. And they must undergo comprehensive safety training regularly.

Managers and supervisors must prioritize clear communication about safety protocols in case of an incident. Workers must have their own system for reporting unsafe conditions.

Moreover, if there are immovable hazards, signage displayed throughout the site should warn workers.

There is some evidence that incentivizing safety on site positively impacts workers and can decrease the number of slip and fall accidents. Incentives may include recognition programs and rewards for teams and crews with an accident-free work record.

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A Better Future For Construction Workers

Slip and fall accidents in the construction industry have a massive impact overall. On top of worker injuries, death, and lost productivity, the financial losses can be extreme.

But the prevalence of these accidents does not mean that they must continue unabated. If owners and managers take matters into their own hands, they can implement proactive measures like training and awareness. This can reduce the number of construction accidents.

However, the responsibility for safety on site does not only lie with construction companies. Workers must do their part by participating in safety training, always wearing safety gear, and reporting unsafe conditions immediately.

It is only with collaboration that construction workers, companies, and regulatory bodies can create a safer working environment on site. This will help grow the construction industry without taking away from worker well-being.

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