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Falling debris in the workplace

Falling debris is one of the reasons for workers' compensation claims in New York. The effects can range from minor bruising to even death, depending on the size and weight of the object. Debris can cause injuries to construction workers and also pedestrians in the vicinity of construction projects. 

According to the New York Post, pedestrian injuries have been increasing in the state. Falling glass, pieces of concrete, planks and flying plywood were all involved in pedestrian and vehicle incidences in the past years. Proper safety procedures at construction sites can greatly cut down on accidents that affect both pedestrians and workers. 

According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, both procedural and physical controls can be used to protect people around worksites. Procedural controls include things such as:

  • Proper hoisting practices - areas should be barricaded, and a signaler should assist the operator 
  • Balanced and secured loads - the work area should have guardrails, and loose pieces should be removed or secured
  • Correct material stacking - materials should always be secured
  • Good housekeeping - materials should be kept away from edges and workers need to be aware of their surroundings

In regard to physical controls, barricades and accompanying signs prevent workers and others from entering excluded areas. Overhead structures should be used when a barricade is not realistic. Guardrails with toeboards should be used, and screening should be applied when the material is stacked more than 3.5 inches high. When work is being performed above an open grate, a non-slip product such as plywood should be placed on top to prevent objects from falling through.

 

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