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Home construction safety devices exist. Why aren't they used?

The home building trades can be hazardous to the health of workers. Those who frame homes and scale the heights of roofs are at particular risk. According to a 2011 study by federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64 percent of all residential building industry deaths were due to falls and a good number of those deaths were among framing contractors.

Those are grim statistics, but what makes them worse is the fact that fall protection technology and devices exist that could prevent falls. Unfortunately, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers, they often aren't used. Why?

Authors of an ASSE survey say the big reason seems to be that workers in the industry think the devices hinder productivity. And as the old saying goes, time is money.

So workplace accidents happen, triggering workers' compensation claims, which often trigger battles with the insurer over recovery of lost wages, medical costs and more. Those are struggles that are best handled by turning to an experienced attorney.

To conduct the research, authors looked at three commercially available tools that are known to be effective at preventing falls through floor openings, providing safe walking surfaces, and arresting worker falls from heights. Then, they surveyed various players in the construction trade for their opinions about them.

The main concern expressed by contractors was that it would take too long to learn how to use the devices. Another major concern was that there usually is no feasible place to hook up an anchor line during the house framing process.

The researchers recommend that the best way to address those concerns would be for the contractors to just commit to using the devices consistently. To help them overcome the education issue, they suggest a collaborative effort between the building industry and the safety equipment makers in developing and employing effective solutions. 

Source:, "ASSE: Productivity concerns deter use of protective devices," Nancy Grover, Sept. 9, 2013

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