Doing our part to prevent falls

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Eight-hundred forty-nine: That’s the number of workers in the U.S. who didn’t make it home in 2016 because they died from a fall at work. That’s the most ever recorded in the U.S. in one year.

Stats like this are why there is a National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls. The stand-down, happening May 7-11, provides an opportunity for employers and their workers to focus on fall hazards and to reinforce the importance of fall prevention. This can include anything from a brief toolbox talk to full-blown training.

On Monday, we hosted dozens of workers for fall prevention training at our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Pickerington.

Matt Patterson, a territory manager from Guardian Fall Protection, started with an informative presentation highlighting: 

  • Ways to eliminate hazards;
  • Determining the equipment needed for a job;
  • The importance of inspecting fall protection gear.

He reiterated, “You should be inspecting the entire personal fall arrest system every time you use it.” The training also reminded attendees that even falls from 6 to 10 feet can be deadly. It also highlighted that falls from roofs and ladders account for more than 50 percent of deadly falls.

Larry Johnson, the area director of the Columbus office for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was on-hand as well. He said, “OHSA’s goal is to have workers go home the same as they arrived at work each day.”

After the classroom portion of the training, attendees moved outdoors for a demonstration of the physical forces falls can put on the body.

The demonstration, led by Patterson, showed how various fall arrest equipment works and how to properly don a body harness.

Attendee Joe Fulcher, a maintenance director with a Zanesville company, said the course was a helpful refresher. “If you do something long enough, you can get complacent, this was a good reminder of how to do things safely and correctly,” he said.

Our Garfield Heights Claims Office hosted a stand-down event for 25 attendees on Monday. OSHA Cleveland Area Director Howard Eberts gave an overview of the number of injuries and fatalities due to a lack of fall protection. Representatives from the 3M Company provided the basics of fall protection, equipment and OSHA requirements seminar and BWC Tech Advisor Rich Gaul provided info on BWC grants to help Ohio companies purchase eligible fall protection equipment.

On Tuesday, our Youngstown Customer Service Office staff worked with Boak & Sons, Inc. to have a Safety Stand-Down event in the Youngstown area.

Boak & Sons hosted the event in its large warehouse complete with the needed equipment and set-up for more than 100 attendees from 37 companies.

Representatives from Malta Dynamics provided the training. It covered the ABCDs of fall protection: A-anchorages, B-Bodywear, C-Connectors, D-Descending lifeline. It also included a demonstration with The Grabber, a mobile fall protection system.

Stand-Down events like these are critical for stemming the tide of falls in the workplace. Nearly 30 percent of all claims filed with BWC are from fall injuries, and falls in Ohio result in an average of 14 fatalities a year. Most of these incidents were preventable through awareness, training and proper use of equipment.

Thank you to all who joined us this year!