At our companies, safety is what guides us every step of the way, whether on a job site, plant or anywhere our work takes us. But what sets us apart is that we don’t forget about safety at the end of the workday; we take it home with us. There are many safety precautions we observe in our line of work that have relevance to daily life, and we’re sharing them here on our blog.
In our industry, we’re accustomed to working in all kinds of potentially hazardous settings: heavy equipment, high-speed traffic, hot mix asphalt, aggregate crushers, and much more. All of these elements require extensive safety precautions and attention-to-detail to keep ourselves and others safe in work zones and at our facilities.
So it may come as a surprise that the most likely safety incident that employees in the construction industry will experience is one that is actually not limited to our line of work. Slip, Trip or Fall (STF) incidents are the most common event that workers in the construction industry will encounter, and they’re also extremely common among the general public.
Over 8 million people received emergency treatment for fall-related injuries in 2019, and falls are the number one cause of death for older adults. STF events can happen in any setting, at home, work or in public spaces.
Here are a few tips we use every day to avoid STF injuries and to keep ourselves safe while working at heights or climbing into equipment.
Avoid overreaching: When reaching to climb onto something (a ladder, equipment, vehicle, etc), you risk injuring your shoulder by overreaching. When climbing into a truck, avoid reaching too far overhead if possible. Instead, use the closest part of the handlebar to start your climb.
Maintain 3 Points of Contact: The goal is free hands, so you try to keep two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot, on steps and railings at all times.
Use Upper Body Strength: Use your upper body strength to control the lowering of yourself on/off ladders on fixed and mobile equipment. This will slow you down and significantly reduce the force upon your joints.
Plant Your Foot Before Coming Down: Most importantly, on the last step from fixed or mobile equipment before the ground, plant your foot and find your footing before transferring your weight from the ladder to the ground. This ensures you know where the ground is, if it is even or slippery, and if you are moving with intent.
Ladders Last: The practices above are effective, but the most effective control we can put in place is one that eliminates the hazard.