Research Paper: Falling Accidents in the Construction Industry

Pages: 5 (1874 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture  ·  Buy This Paper

Accidents From Falling in the Construction Industry

Numerous accidents occur in the construction industry, but many of them can be avoided with proper safety procedures.

The Chosen Fall Accident

A construction worker in Queens, NY fell through the floor of the building on which he was working and hit his head on a steel girder, dying at the hospital from his injuries.

Causative Factors Associated with the Fall

Previous complaints had been made about the construction work taking place on that site, and the weather was 12 degrees at the time the accident occurred.

Sample Fall Protection Program

Fall protection programs must consider every reasonable possibility in order to mitigate the risk construction workers face.

Summary and Conclusion

When workers do not follow proper procedures and/or when proper procedures are not required, offered, or enforced, the rate of accidents rises.

References

Introduction

The construction industry is one in which there are often accidents. This is not necessarily because safety measures are not taken, but because the nature of the work is dangerous and things can and do go wrong. In some cases there is carelessness involved, but in the majority of cases it is simply that a person had an honest accident occur that caused serious injury or even death. Many of these accidents are related to a person falling from a significant height, and a number of the accidents could have -- and should have -- been avoided. One such accident will be addressed and analyzed here, in an effort to shed light on this important issue. Additionally a sample fall protection plan will be created in order to show how the fall being analyzed could have potentially been avoided. That will help to provide further insight into the reason behind the fall, and how it is possible for construction companies to reduce the number of falls that take place, thus reducing the number of injuries and deaths in their company and in their professional as a whole.

The importance of fall avoidance in construction work cannot be overstated. Even falling from a relatively low height can be highly detrimental, as it is not always the height of the fall but the nature of it that can be significantly problematic. In other words, some falls from shorter heights are just as dangerous if not more dangerous than falls from higher areas because of the risk for hitting objects on the way down or the surface on which the person will be landing. In order to address the issue properly, it is important to understand that falls can occur without warning in many cases, and that a simple slip that would otherwise be very benign can become a life or death issue when a construction worker is high in the air or in a precarious position where a fall could lead to serious injury or death. Even a "simple" fall can have truly devastating consequences.

The Chosen Fall Accident

The fall accident chosen here took place in Queens, NY in January of 2014. A construction worker who was helping to create an apartment building fell through the floor of it, slamming his head on a steel girder on the way down (Burke & Tracy, 2014). He was on the first floor, but there was a basement below him and he fell 15 feet (Burke & Tracy, 2014). The girder struck his head, and he was then rushed to the hospital, where he died from his injuries (Burke & Tracy, 2014). While not all falls are fatal, even falls that do not seem like they would be that dangerous (such as falling from the first floor) can cause death. Because of the accident, work on the project was halted until the site could be carefully investigated in order to determine if something should have been done to prevent the accident (Burke & Tracy, 2014). If it is determined that safety measures were not being followed, there could be a lawsuit against the company for unsafe practices, which could become a serious financial issue for that company (Burke & Tracy, 2014).

Important to note is the fact that the accident is not the first issue to occur on that site. In 2012 work was halted because neighbors in the area complained that the construction was damaging the foundations of their homes (Burke & Tracy, 2014). While not the same as an accident, this could indicate that something unusual was taking place at the site, or that the degree of construction was extremely vigorous in that it was causing damage to nearby homes and businesses. In relation to the current issue -- the death of the construction worker from the fall he sustained -- the general contractor for the project was not able to be reached for comment (Burke & Tracy, 2014). That is often the case when an accident and death occurs on a construction site, as the company will want to investigate what actually happened before making a statement.

Causative Factors Associated with the Fall

A fall on a construction site, especially a fall that results in serious injury or death, is generally not the product of just one issue. Often, there are a number of things that actually caused the fall to occur, and they all have to be addressed. Here, one of the causative factors worthy of note was the temperature. It was 12 degrees at the time the accident took place (Burke & Tracy, 2014). While construction workers in Queens are often very used to working in bone-chilling temperatures, the cold still makes things more difficult. A person's hands do not grip things as well, and the materials used for construction are more brittle than they would be in warmer weather. That could have contributed to the worker falling through the floor, and being unable to catch himself as he fell. It could have also contributed to the firmness of the surfaces he impacted as he fell, adding to the risk he faced from falling 15 feet from the first floor of the structure into the basement area.

Another factor is an apparent lack of protection for the worker, both in keeping him from falling and in protecting his head. While a safety harness may not have seemed necessary because he was on the first floor, it should be used anytime a construction worker could fall from the level on which he is working. Additionally, there was no mention of the construction worker wearing a hardhat or other protective headgear that could have kept him from striking his head on the steel girder when he fell. OSHA requires hardhats on construction sites. Even if it was not a requirement, it is common sense. While it is possible that he was wearing a hardhat and this was not mentioned in the article, he definitely did not have a safety harness on or he would not have been able to fall 15 feet. A harness could have prevented the accident because he would not have fallen far enough to strike his head on the steel girder, but it was likely assumed that a harness was not needed in the area where he was working.

Sample Fall Protection Program

A fall protection program must be direct and to the point. It also must be followed in order to be valuable. If the plan is not enforced, there is no need to have it at all. Part of a sample protection plan that would address the monitoring of employees and how they would be physically restrained in order to avoid a fall could be as follows:

Fall Protection Systems: It is the policy of this company that employees are to be protected from on the job injuries. As such, there will be safety monitors assigned to this project. They will be responsible for monitoring the employees in order to ensure they remain in compliance with required OSHA safety measures for this particular job. No more than five workers will be monitored by one individual at a time, to help ensure adequate coverage and knowledge of employee activity. The safety monitor will warn an employee who is violating any aspect of the safety rules for this particular job, and must be competent in recognizing and addressing potential fall hazards. The safety monitor will wear a green hat, jacket, or armband, making him easy to recognize so other employees can clearly identify him if they have questions or concerns regarding monitoring and safety.

Required Fall Protection Gear: Employees will all be required to use the provided fall protection gear. Even small or short falls can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Hardhats are to be worn at all times when on the jobsite, without exception. Additionally, any employee who is working off the ground in any capacity will be required to wear a safety harness. This rule applies to employees working on the highest point of the building all the way down to employees working on the first floor. Only employees working in the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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