Safety Tips: Prevent Falls on Construction Projects

Winter is now in full effect and regardless of the weather conditions, the construction site is still open and projects are still underway. With the recent ice storm that Southern Ontario experienced, in addition to the usual winter conditions, workers need to exercise even more caution due to extremely icy patches both on the ground and on building structures, fallen trees and power lines. Falls are noted the number-one cause of critical injuries and deaths of workers at construction sites in Ontario. Despite the added concerns due to the weather conditions, workers can be at increased risk of falling due to various reasons, many of which are not weather related, and all of which are preventable:
  • icy surfaces
  • missing protective devices (e.g., guardrails)
  • improper storage of wires and cords
  • unsuitable and/or poorly maintained guardrails and covers
  • unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures, including skylights in existing roof structures
  • lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., equipment not available, not used or misused)
  • other equipment that is misused or in poor condition (e.g., ladders, scaffolds, and suspended access equipment)
  • poor work practices (e.g., unclear job procedures, lack of training, or workers rushing to meet deadlines)
  • poor lighting, slippery surfaces, inadequate “housekeeping” (e.g., a messy, cluttered work area)
Appropriate methods for controlling these and other hazards must be included in construction site health and safety programs. Some methods for controlling hazards leading to falls include, but are not limited to:
  • engineering controls
  • personal protective equipment
  • thorough housekeeping
  • use of appropriate and adequate administrative controls
Everyone on a construction site is responsible for each other’s safety. Maintaining and practicing proper communication and teamwork will ensure a safe working environment for all.