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Productivity versus proactive use of protective devices

There is little point in providing protective gear to construction workers if they do not use it. Especially when it comes to preventing fall injuries, it is critical that workers actually use their gear consistently and properly. However, many workers fail to use this gear because they believe that it slows down their productivity. Even more disturbing is the fact that some employers fail to outfit their workers with protective gear for the same reason.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report published in 2011, falls cause 100 percent of accident-related fatalities among framing contractors and nearly two-thirds of accident-related fatalities among residential builders. It is imperative that employers and employees alike are educated on the necessity of fall protection gear and that employers who fail to outfit their workers and enforce fall protection safety standards are held accountable for this poor decision-making.

A journal article published in Professional Safety earlier this summer indicates that fewer than six in ten residential construction workplaces are currently compliant with fall prevention safety regulations. The American Society of Safety Engineers explained why this disturbing trend occurs when it noted that, "The primary concern to use was the effect of a device on productivity. There is a learning curve when using a new fall protection device; this can add time to the home building process, which is a major concern in the current economic environment."

When employers and workers alike become so preoccupied with productivity that their vision compromises safety, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Source: Risk & Insurance Magazine's Workers' Comp Forum, "ASSE: Productivity concerns deter use of protective devices," Nancy Grover, Sep. 9, 2013

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