Acrophobia is the fear of heights. You may be surprised just how many people here in Missouri and elsewhere suffer from this phobia. You may not find many of those people working with you in the construction business, however.
It would be almost impossible for someone working in the construction industry to avoid heights. However, there is a distinct difference between having a phobia regarding heights and having a healthy fear of them. One may keep you from working at heights, and the other may help keep you safe while working above the ground.
Safety at heights
If you work at least six feet off the ground, you need to take steps to protect yourself from falls, which continues to be a significant cause of injuries and death in the construction industry. Records indicate that 370 of the 991 workers who lost their lives in construction accidents in 2016 died in a fall. In many of those cases, the deaths were preventable since employers failed to provide fall protection gear or the worker failed to use the gear properly.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration believes its fall prevention plan can reduce the number of fatalities from falls. The system involves employers and employees taking the following steps:
- When planning a job, work in the need and cost of fall protection gear if employees will work at heights on a particular construction site.
- Employers should provide workers with the appropriate personal fall protection gear for the job.
- The proper equipment to reach certain heights also bears consideration. Scaffolds and ladders should be right for a particular job, and all employees and the employer should follow all safety regulations regarding this equipment.
- Working on roofs often requires full fall arrest systems that include tie offs and anchors.
- Training is essential. Your employer could provide all of the safety equipment on the market to you, but if you don't know how to use it properly, it's useless.
You may ask for the right safety equipment for the job. It may just be an oversight since most companies do keep the safety of their employees in mind when planning a job. Sadly, all of the planning, training and equipment in the world may not always prevent falls. If you fall from a height while on the job, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to help with your medical and medical-related needs during your recovery, along with a portion of your income, and possibly more depending on the circumstances.