B.C.’s construction industry is strong, and has made considerable advances over the past 10 years in improving its safety practices. But workers are still getting hurt. One source of injury in particular is falls from elevation.

Fall related injuries

In fact, fall-related injuries currently account for about 35 percent of WorkSafeBC claim costs in construction. What’s more, when a worker falls on a construction site, it usually results in a serious, life-altering type of injury.

“The employer’s role is to make sure the site is safe by providing workers with the proper training, tools, and equipment to do their jobs safely.”

The effort to reduce these devastating injuries is a collective one. As we strive towards a world where even one severe workplace injury is too many, the key is to recognize that worksite safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“Everyone plays a role when it comes to safety in the workplace,” says Don Schouten, Manager of Construction Industry and Labour Services at WorkSafeBC. “The employer’s role is to make sure the site is safe by providing workers with the proper training, tools, and equipment to do their jobs safely. Workers, similarly, have a responsibility to ensure they follow the proper procedures, utilize all required safety equipment, and most importantly, speak out when they don’t understand something or see something that’s unsafe.”

It’s important to remember that jobsites are never intentionally unsafe and that everyone has an interest in making them safer. “No one wants to see someone injured on the job,” says Schouten. “No one wants to have to make that phone call.”

Recognizing dangerous work practices

Employers and workers can make a huge difference to safety, he says, when they recognize the real cost of dangerous work practices. Every time a worker or supervisor walks past a missing guardrail or damaged harness without saying something, they’ve missed a chance to prevent a possible fall and potentially life-changing injury. When everyone involved looks at these issues in terms of the injuries they might prevent by fixing or reporting them, everyone becomes safer. It’s not just about meeting regulations, it’s about creating a safety culture, so that everyone feels safe on the job and can go home to the rest of their lives at the end of the day.