How common are falls in the workplace and can they be prevented?

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How common are falls in the workplace and can they be prevented?

Falls in the workplace can occur in many ways, whether it is a fall from a height, slipping and falling on a slick floor or falling off a surface with inadequate railings. Anyone from a construction worker to a medical worker to a retail worker can suffer a fall in the workplace. And, while no workplace can be made entirely safe, there are steps employers can take to prevent falls.

The statistics on workplace fall injuries

Falls are a common and sometimes deadly injury suffered in the workplace. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014 found that 261,930 workers missed at least one day of work because they suffered a fall injury in the workplace. That same year, nearly 800 workers lost their lives due to a workplace fall.

Most fall-related fatalities took place in the construction industry. Most nonfatal fall injuries took place in the health services industry and the wholesale and retail industry. Specifically, those who work in healthcare support, janitorial work, transportation and construction were most at risk for suffering injury from falls while on the job.

Ways to prevent falls in the workplace

There are a variety of circumstances that could make it more likely that a fall will occur. A worker can fall if the walking surface is slippery, cluttered or unstable. Falls can occur around unprotected edges. Floor holes and wall openings present a fall risk. A fall can happen if a ladder is positioned unsafely. Improper use of fall protection equipment can also lead to a fall.

There are ways to prevent falls, however. If workers are working from heights, employers should plan ahead with safety in mind. Employers should provide the right equipment to protect workers from falls. Finally, employers should ensure all workers know how to use the equipment safely.

Falls in the workplace can cause serious or even deadly injuries. Workers injured after a fall may want to seek workers’ compensation if their injury keeps them from working.