Did you know that construction is among the largest sectors in our state economy? Chances are that you probably know someone who works in this vitally important field. And even if not, your life has been has been touched by what construction workers do — building and repairing our homes, schools, workplaces, hospitals and roadways.
Sadly, too many construction workers are exposed to risk for injury or illness every day on the job while trying to make a living.
The DPH Massachusetts Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation Project (MA FACE) is helping to raise awareness about one cause of construction worker deaths: falls in construction.
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, both nationwide and here in Massachusetts. Between 2009 and 2013, 71 construction workers died on the job in Massachusetts – more workers than in any other industry. Over half of these workers (39) fell to their deaths, and most of these were employed by small contractors with 10 or fewer employees.
What’s surprising is the height from which these construction workers fell. Most think that fatal falls only happen from high surfaces like huge city buildings, but over half of the Massachusetts deaths occurred from 25 feet or less, about the height of a typical two-story home. Eleven of these workers died falling from a height of 15 feet or less.
Also alarming is the increased risk faced by Hispanic construction workers when it comes to fatal falls. During these same five years, six Hispanic workers fell to their deaths. Hispanic workers in Massachusetts make up merely about 7% of the construction workforce, yet they accounted for 15% of these fall deaths.
We know how to prevent falls in construction, so these these terrible incidents should not just be accepted as part of a construction worker’s job. Join construction workers across country during the week of June 2nd for a National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down. This is a chance for employers to talk to employees about safety and the importance of fall prevention.
For additional information about preventing falls in construction, MA FACE has a series of fall prevention brochures for residential contractors, covering the safe use of ladders, scaffolds and personal fall arrest systems. All brochures are free and available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
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