In terms of work-related accidents, most people associate the risk of falling with work at multi-story construction sites. But the reality is that even a fall from a ladder can cause catastrophic injuries. It is true that the impact on the body will be more severe the higher the fall, but a fall from the second step of a ladder can be fatal if the victim's head strikes a hard object.
For that reason, safety precautions to prevent falls are essential, regardless of the height at which you must do your job. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes regulations related to personal protection equipment, such as fall harnesses, safety nets and more, some forethought beyond the specified safety regulations may help prevent fall injuries.
Tips for preventing falls
Federal and state safety guidelines do not include all safety measures. Making some of the following steps part of your personal safety protocol might keep you out of the emergency room:
- Trust your buddy -- Make use of the buddy-system that involves teaming up with a co-worker who can have your back. Your work partner can ensure the ladder is steady while you climb, and in the unfortunate event of a fall, your buddy can call for help.
- Plan your project -- Every time you climb up or down the ladder, you are at risk of falling. By planning the job step-by-step and executing it in that way, you can reduce your number of trips and thereby minimize injury risk.
- Insist on PPE -- Your task will determine the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) you need. Regardless of whether you need only a sturdy ladder, a safety harness or other protection, you are entitled to the appropriate PPE for the job. Furthermore, you can legally refuse to work at elevated levels without proper protection.
- Fear vs. Anxiety -- Having fear will make you take extra care, but being anxious can be overwhelming and put you in danger. Learn to embrace your fear and use it to your advantage rather than allowing anxiety to conjure up thoughts of adverse outcomes.
- Mental and physical health -- To be safe at heights you must be in good shape. Physical health is vital, but it will be of no use if you suffer fatigue due to a lack of sleep. Fatigue can lead to inattentiveness and errors that could have devastating consequences. Note that dehydration can cause dizziness, so be sure to drink enough healthy liquids.
It is sad but true that some employers prioritize profits rather than employee safety. If this is the case at the firm that employs you, you may need to take special precautions to look after your own safety. However, if you suffer a fall while working at an elevated level, the Oklahoma workers' compensation insurance program will have your back. Along with compensation for medical expenses, benefits may include a wage-replacement package to provide income until you have recovered and can return to work.