Fall-related incidents are the primary cause of fatalities in the U.S. construction industry. A NIOSH analysis of fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) indicated that from 2004 to 2008, a total of 5,844 construction workers were killed from all causes (annual aver-age 1,169) (BLS, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). During the same period, 2,055 construction fatalities occurred due to falling (annual average 411). Workers falling accounted for more than 35% of all fatalities that occurred in construction from 2004 to 2008. Further analyses of CFOI data indicate that construction-related falls from roof edges, through roof and door openings, and through skylights resulted in a 5-year total of 767 fatalities (annual average 153).
Table 1 presents a 5-year breakdown of these data, along with a total number of fatalities and total number of fall-related fatalities in all U.S. workplaces for comparison. The last category of construction workplace situations (falls from roof edges, and through roof and door openings and skylights) are situations that can be addressed with a guardrail system to prevent falls to a lower level.
Mandatory regulations for the construction industry are found in OSHA 29 CFR 1926. Specifically, Subpart M, which includes sections 1926.500 through 1926.503 and appendixes A through E, lists requirements related to workplace falls.
In addition, OSHA issued Directive No. STD 3.1 (Dec. 5, 1995), which provided an interim enforcement policy on fall protection for certain residential construction activities involving installation of door joists, door sheathing, exterior walls, roof trusses and rafters, and roof sheathing. Directive 3.1 has been superseded by Directive No. STD 3-0.1A (June 18, 1999); it provides a plain language rewrite of the previous directive and is found at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=2288.
In addition, ANSI/ASSE (2007a) A10.18 pre-scribes minimum safety requirements for construction and demolition activities, while ANSI/ASSE (2007b) A1264.1 prescribes safety requirements for modifications and renovations to existing industrial and commercial facilities and work areas. Some state regulations may specifically cite these national consensus standards.