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Investigation of selected occupational fatalities caused by falls from elevations.

Bobick TG; Schnitzer PG; Stanevich RL
Advances in industrial ergonomics and safety II. Das B, Mital A, eds. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis, 1990 Jan; 2:527-534
An analysis of fatal accidents resulting from falls from heights was performed. Thirty nine workplace falls that resulted in 40 fatalities that occurred from October 1, 1987 through September 30, 1989 were investigated as part of the NIOSH Fatal Accident Circumstances and Epidemiology (FACE) program. Thirty eight (95%) of the fall victims were males and their average age at death was 36 years. The victims had been employed in their last job an average of 4.6 years. Thirteen had been employed with their employer 6 months or less and 13 had spent 3 months or less in the job they were performing when they fell. Thirty five victims (87.5%) were employed in the construction industry. Within the construction industry, 31 (77.5%) were employed as a structural metal craftsman, painter, supervisor or manager, carpenter, roofer, plumber, electrician, or sheet metal installer. Falls from roofs were the most common type of accident accounting for 35% of the fatalities. The average distance fallen was 58.6 feet. Lost balance, work surface collapse, and slipping or tripping were the most frequent causes of the falls accounting for 42.5, 20, and 10% of the fatalities, respectively. Sixteen (41.0%) of the employers did not have a written safety policy and 56.4% did not have a safety officer. Only 13 employers (33.3%) required the use of personal fall protective equipment. It was worn in only five instances. The authors conclude that falls from height is a major cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry. Most workers who work at height do not use fall prevention techniques or personal protective equipment. The authors recommend that all companies which routinely have employees working at heights have a written safety policy, implement a fall prevention or protection training program, and provide personal fall protection equipment.
Occupational-accidents; Accident-analysis; Construction-workers; Risk-analysis; Safety-research; Accident-prevention; Surveillance-programs; Demographic-characteristics
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Das B; Mital A
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Advances in industrial ergonomics and safety II. Proceedings of the Annual International Industrial Ergonomics and Safety Conference held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 10-13 June 1990. The Official Conference of the International Foundation for Industrial Ergonomics and Safety Research
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division