Despite ongoing efforts by safety & health professionals and industry stakeholders to improve awareness and use of fall prevention and protection solutions, falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry. According to recent occupational data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 401 construction workers died from falls to a lower level in 2019. To better understand and prevent both fatal and non-fatal falls, more information is needed about their root causes. In 2021, CPWR worked closely with the ANSI Z359 National Work at Heights Task Force and the NORA Construction Sector Council Falls Work Group to develop and administer a fall experience survey, which aimed to fill in some of the gaps in information available on common underlying causes of falls from heights.
This preliminary report provides an overview of highlighted findings from the survey: Highlighted Findings from a CPWR Survey on Underlying Causes of Falls from Heights
Key Findings include:
- Respondents believe that lack of adequate planning is a key underlying cause of falls. Insufficient
or ineffective planning was the most selected primary cause for falls (27.4%).
- Lack of planning is associated with a lower likelihood of using fall protection. The odds of using fall
protection were 71% lower for individuals whose employer or competent person did not do any planning
compared to those whose employer or competent person did do planning or they were not sure.
- Nearly half (48.8%) of respondents said that no fall protection was being used at the time of the fall.
- Employee beliefs about their company’s fall protection policy are strongly associated with the use
of fall protection. Respondents who believed fall protection was required by their employer were 8 times
more likely to use fall protection compared to those who did not believe fall protection was required.
- Rescue training may help reduce fall-related deaths. The odds of a fall being fatal were 76% lower for
those who had self-rescue training compared to those who did not have this training.
- Workers employed by subcontractors face an elevated risk of dying from falls. Individuals who
worked for a subcontractor at the time of the fall incident were 2.7 times more likely to die from the fall
compared to those who worked for a general contractor.