Injuries from falling are too common in construction

Fall accidents are the most common cause of serious injuries in the workplace and most falls occur in the construction industry - one in five serious fall accidents occur on a construction site.

One of the most common accidents at a construction site are falls.

Damage from falls is not limited to accidents when working at high altitudes, but serious injuries also occur when falling at the same level in the form of slipping and tripping. Even with safety measures in the form of training, safety routines, and appropriate equipment, the risk of falling is ever-present at a construction site. The risk is higher as the conditions in the construction environment are constantly changing.

The accidents occur in all occupations, but are more common where individuals often move both indoors and outdoors

One of the “Fatal Four”

Fall accidents are globally recognized as a problem in the construction industry. Industry media in the United States has defined four leading causes that have led to the most serious injuries and deaths in the construction industry. The "Fatal four" is to be hit by a falling object, electric shocks, getting stuck between two objects and fall accidents. 51 percent of all workplace accidents in the United States occur in the construction industry.

Fall accidents are one of the most common accidents in Sweden

In Sweden, approximately 11,000 work-related accidents occur every year. About 8,000 of these cases are falls on the same level and just over 2,000 of them lead to serious injuries. Almost four out of ten serious accidents at work are fall accidents. Half of them result in life-long injuries. This is stated in a study by AFA Insurance from 2019, in which over 17,000 fall accidents were examined.

Construction workers are one of the largest risk groups

In 2019, it was reported that 11 construction workers lost their lives in occupational accidents, eight of which were accidents from falling. This was an increase from the previous year. It was also the reason why the Swedish trade union Byggnads decided to check the security of 1,200 scaffoldings around the country. Byggnads, together with the Swedish construction Industry’s Central Work Environment Council, has for more than 20 years produced reports of occupational injuries in construction operations, where fall accidents constantly account for at least a quarter of the damages. In 2018, 26% of reported work injuries in construction operations consisted of injuries from falling.

In 2018 there were as many fall accidents from heigths as on the same level falls at Swedish construction sites

How fall injuries can be prevented

More frequent training, regular inspections and safety meetings, as well as securing that everyone present on the worksite has the same knowledge of the conditions, are all examples of administrative actions that prevent accidents. Furthermore, preparing the site based on the season and weather, such as applying gravel to surfaces that can become slippery. Being proactive with safety on a worksite results in lower costs from the penalties of accidents and, above all, fewer injuries. Falls from height can be prevented with adapted fall protection for ladders, pallets, and scaffoldings.

The right equipment can be crucial

Obviously, there is a requirement for protective equipment in construction. However, the quality and characteristics of the necessary equipment varies. In order to prevent fall injuries, you should ensure that you have shoes and gloves that are suitable for the surfaces and work you are doing. If the accident occurs, head protection is indispensable. The head is at great risk, even a simple stumbling can cause a fall that leads to a severe head injury. The average absence due to illness by mild concussion is 5 days, which leads to high costs for both employers.

Read more about how Guardio Armet provides increased brain protection thanks to MIPS here.

Occupational injuries in Construction 2018

  • Accidents from falling
  • Falls from ruptures materials
  • Lost control of machinery or transport
  • Lost control of hand tools or objects
  • Physical movement with or without physical overload
  • Other, such as fire, leakage etc
Source: Report “Work Injuries in Construction 2018”
from the Swedish Construction Industry Central Work Environment Council

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