According to CDC statistics, slips, trips, and falls are the number one cause of construction worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry.  Hazards can range from being well hidden to extremely noticeable.  But there is good news – these incidents are very preventable. Taking proper precautions on the job site every day and paying special attention during winter weather will help prevent employee injury.

Perform A Daily Jobsite Assessment

  • Evaluate worksites for dangerous hazards and develop a plan for each day.
    • Check that worksites and passageways remain reasonably clean and free from obstructions.
    • Pay close attention to protruding nails, objects, splinters, holes, loose boards, or other hindrances.
    • Check for uneven or slippery areas.
    • Check and gear up for the weather.
  • Communicate plan to field team.

Maintain Good Housekeeping Practices

  • A clean-as-you-go method makes sure trash and waste materials are picked up immediately rather than coming back later.
  • Place rolling items, like fence posts and rebar, out of active work areas.
  • Keep staged materials neatly placed in a designated area, out of the way, and with proper signage.
  • Create clear pathways by removing snow to prevent hidden dangers below the winter elements.
  • Keep work locations in a clean and dry condition.
  • Do not store materials on top of equipment maintenance boxes, toolboxes, and Conex trailers.
  • Put away tools and equipment after use.

Be Aware of Self & Site

  • Watch your step. Avoid walking while using phones, tablets, or any other item that can cause distractions.
  • Cover and barrier holes and trenches and place “open excavation” signs near area.
  • Use fall protection of barriers or harness and lanyard when working over 6 feet.
  • Treat surfaces with sand, salt, or anti-skid adhesive, if necessary, to keep outdoor surfaces clean and dry.
  • Use non-slip floor mats and clean shoes often. Floor mats should have beveled edges, lay flat, be made of material that won’t slide, and be placed where moisture collects.
  • Wear boots or shoes with good traction.

Prepare for Changing Weather Conditions

  • Shovel snow and salt walkways. Utilize equipment for large work areas.
  • Ensure ramps, stairs, and parking lots are clear of snow and salted.
  • Place barriers underneath roof edges to prevent large, sharp icicles from falling on a worker.
  • Be aware of hard to treat ice – such as black ice on roads, ice on ladders, and on equipment.
  • High winds creates greater risk when working at heights.

Utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Use ice cleats whenever ice is present.
  • Evaluate work area heights and communicate with all employees. OSHA’s fall protection plan ensures workers take precautions in work areas with a potential for falls over six feet (6’) in height during construction activities and four feet (4’) for general industry practices.
  • Prevent dropping objects by wearing hard hat chin straps and tool lanyards.

Follow Ladder Safety Procedures 

  • Inspect ladder prior to use for defects. If damaged, remove ladder from service, tag it “Do Not Use”, and notify a supervisor.
  • Never use metal ladders around electrical equipment.
  • Never exceed the ladder’s load rating.
  • Never use ladders horizontally as work platforms.
  • Use “3 Points of Contact”-two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder at all times-when climbing onto a ladder or into equipment.

Educate & Train

  • Provide Safe Driver training to safely drive every day and during icy conditions and inclement weather.
  • Include safety precautions for slips, trips, and falls during new hire orientation and risk assessment training.
  • Encourage participation in OSHA 10 and 30 trainings.

Slips, trips, and falls can cause serious injury. Following OSHA’s requirements and practices straight from RFI’s HSE Handbook will help keep employees and visitors safe on the job. Just remember-be mindful of your surroundings, clean up after yourself, and implement safety measures when necessary.

Additional Resources

Rutkoski Fencing, Inc. Health, Safety, Environment (HSE)Handbook