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To keep their workers safe, Nationwide recommends construction companies regularly inspect their equipment, and repair and replace as needed. (Photo: iStock)
In addition, companies should develop written policies and plans to reduce the use of ladders and make other safe options readily available. Workers should be properly trained to use and inspect mobile scaffolding and lifts. (Photo: Bigstock)
To keep themselves safe on the job, experts encourage employees who often work on elevated surfaces and ladders to start a conversation with their managers on implementing best safety practices. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Nationwide researchers strongly advise against the use of ladders, and suggest instead companies use mobile scaffolds, scissor lifts or other elevated work platforms that are equipped with guardrails and additional protective gear. (Photo: John Disney)
Other options to replace ladders: rope, pulleys, block and tackle or other appropriate material-handling aids to lift materials onto elevated surfaces. (Photo: Shutterstock)


Over the past five years, Nationwide has processed more than 10,000 workers’ compensation claims. Their researchers decided to take a closer look at the numbers to try to understand how and why these accidents occur.

They found that one of the most common — and costly — causes of claims occurs when construction workers fall from elevated surfaces. These accidents represent more than 30% of all construction claim payments, according to data from Nationwide.

These falls are also the most deadly type of accident on construction sites. As the leading cause of death for construction employees, falls from elevated surfaces account for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities recorded in 2016 according to BLS data.

Related: Leveraging technology for workplace safety

So, why are falls from elevated surfaces so costly?

Nationwide’s data indicates that these injuries are more severe than other injury claims because these accidents result in:

  • More time away from work
  • Damage to multiple body parts
  • Short- and long-term disability leave

In an effort to help employers reduce these incidents, over the last few years, Nationwide has been providing safety awareness and training to thousands of construction workers. The program supports a national campaign titled Stand-Down To Prevent Falls in Construction and is sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“Construction employees work hard every day in environments that are often dangerous,” Linda Stueber, Nationwide’s vice president of Construction, said in a statement.

“Our data shows that falls from elevated surfaces can often lead to serious and costly worker injuries, so it’s crucial for construction companies and their workers to implement regular safety training — and put that training to practice.”

To help companies do so, Nationwide has put out a series of tips for both construction workers and their employers to utilize to reduce fall-related injuries. Click through the slideshow above for ways construction companies can keep their workers safe.

Related: Piece by piece: The state of affairs in the construction industry

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Danielle Ling

Danielle Ling is an experienced video journalist and business reporter. As associate editor, Danielle manages all multimedia and reports on industry news and risk-related coverage, managing all weather-related content. A University of Maryland and Philip Merrill College of Journalism alum, Danielle previously served as a video journalist for Verizon FiOS 1 News NJ, Push Pause. Connect with Danielle on LinkedIn or email her at [email protected].

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