01. Introduction

Over the average 40-year work life span, approximately 16,000 workers in the United States are hurt on the job every day. On a global scale, almost 1000 workers are killed every day on the job (Smith, 2001). Falls are the second leading cause of occupational deaths after motor vehicle crashes according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Department of Labor, 2010). In 2009, falls accounted for 617 deaths among workers. The most prevalent form of injury resulted from workers falling to a lower level from ladders, scaffolds, buildings, or other elevations.

Industries that experienced the greatest number of fall-related deaths and injuries were farming, forestry, fishing occupations, construction laborers, carpenters, roofers, structural metal workers and construction supervisors. The construction industry accounts for as much as 50% of fall-related deaths or injury due to the fact that most firms are self-employed, may hire seasonal workers, work under adverse conditions, and are usually fast moving and involve many employees working at elevation. Mining and agriculture/forestry/fishing are second to construction in fall-related injuries.

Many causes of falls include inexperienced workers, deviation from standard operating procedure, inability to recognize hazards when they exist, deviation from procedures, unfamiliar environments and tasks.