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June 21, 2022

Fall Protection: Safety Strategies and Tactics

For the 10th straight year, fall protection was the most-cited violation in 2020, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Considering these statistics, maintenance and engineering managers need to make training a top priority for front-line technicians who operate mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) and climb scaffolding or ladders to complete tasks in and around institutional and commercial facilities.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2020 shows a decrease of non-fatal injuries from 244,000 in 2019 to 211,640 in 2020. But the decrease in the injury rate can largely be attributed to the pandemic, which is why managers should not be too encouraged about the 2020 numbers, says James Junkin, a master trainer with Veriforce, which provides safety compliance and training services.

“When compared to the injury data from 2017-2019, we see an unfortunate increase from 227,760 to 244,000 injuries due to falls,” Junkin says. “This is a disturbing trend. The fatality data related to falls in 2020 has not been updated as of yet. However, we do have some prior year data from which we can draw conclusions. From 2014 through 2019, a troubling trend is emerging in which, on average, 838 workers fall to their deaths. Serious injuries and fatalities continue to occur despite fall-protection violations making up 30 percent of OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2020, which is another continued historical trend.”

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