Falling Debris, Materials or Objects on Construction Sites

Posted on 30th August, 2023

Falling Debris, Materials or Objects on Construction Sites

Despite the construction industry being heavily regulated with strict safety laws to mitigate risks, data from a recent five-year period indicates an alarming average of 2,000 injuries resulting from falling objects.

Injuries commonly suffered by workers due to falling objects include bruises, fractures, sprains, and strains, even with existing safety measures.

The spectrum of things prone to falling is vast, ranging from large items like steel beams and roof trusses to smaller hand tools and fasteners.

Employers can often prevent accidents if safety measures are taken and employees are regularly reminded of these.

Below you can find several useful tips to help address and mitigate this hazard:

  • Secure loads. When lifting, make sure the load is secured and balanced. Check for loose or small pieces. Before loading a platform, ensure the work area has properly built guardrails.
  • Properly move the load. Never lift, lower, or swing a load over someone's head. Use barricades to prevent access to areas where loads are lowered or raised. If the operator's view is impeded in any way, use a signaller for assistance.
  • Keep a clean worksite. Keep materials and tools away from railings, edges, and other elevated surfaces. Always stack materials on flat surfaces and secure them to avoid movement. Employees should be aware of their surroundings and watch that they don't inadvertently hit or knock something off down to the level below.
  • Proper material stacking. Store equipment and materials at least six feet away from an edge to prevent tipping. Arrange materials so that they can't roll or slide in the direction of the opening, and use opening covers. Always secure material to avoid movement from the wind, and remember to re-secure the material when you remove something from a secured pile.
  • Toeboards must be installed on all guardrails. They stop objects from falling down to the level below and prevent small objects from falling through the openings between rails. Protect open grating covers. If employees are performing work on an open grating, place non-slip plywood or a similar product on top of the grating to prevent small objects from falling through it.
  • Use barricades and install overhead protective structures. Barricades can block off exclusion zones below the work area. When these are not practical, use overhead protective structures.
  • Tool lanyards and tethers. These attach tools directly to the worker's harness or tool belt. If used properly, they will prevent tools from dropping to a lower level. Carts with sides. When moving equipment, tools, or material, always use a cart that is an appropriate size for what is being moved and make sure the cart has sides.

Construction accidents have the potential to change careers and your lives forever. When you want to understand your legal rights and options, O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm is here for you. Trust our attorneys to treat you with compassion and stand up for your best interests.