Work at height is a common type of work in various workplaces and it remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. Work at height means working at any place where a person could fall to a distance that can cause him severe injuries, even death, if no proper precautions are taken. Falls from height or FFH is a common case in work at heights in industries like construction, and oil & gas.
A fall can be simply defined as an injury that is caused to a person when they land on the ground after falling from a higher place, like a ladder, scaffold, building, roof, or other elevated place or work area. Such falls may cause serious injuries such as fractures, bone breakage and even death. Even though a person does not fall from a big height, they might yet be seriously injured or killed. A fall from a minimum of two meters is enough to cause injuries to the person.
However, OSHA requires that fall protection should be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in long shoring operations.
Why should you care about falling from height?
According to OSHA’s preliminary list of the top 10 most commonly cited workplace safety violations for the fiscal year 2018, "fall protection" topped the list with 7,270 complaints. In fact, after traffic accidents, falls are the second most prevalent cause of injury-related death. They make up a large proportion of blunt trauma cases and ED admissions.
Statistics say, in Singapore fall from height (FFH) has been the prime cause of workplace death, with 11 out of 29 workplace deaths (till date) in 2022 being due to falls. Similarly, in the year 2016, the highest number of work injuries witnessed in Saudi Arabia was due to FFHs.
Must Read: Worker Woes, Project Flux & Safety Breach: How AI can rescue Singapore Construction Industry
What causes falling from height?
The most common causes of fall from height are:
PPE Non-Compliance: Since OSHA took the initiative, companies have been providing PPE to every worker. But only providing workers with PPE is not enough, one needs to ensure that the right PPE is used for the right work and is properly worn.
Improper use of Safety Ropes: Safety ropes are essential to prevent the workers from falling. Improper use of safety ropes may lead to accidents.
Unstable Equipment: Use of unstable access equipment, such as scaffolding, towers, platforms (Gondola), and ladders put the workers at the risk of losing their balance, leading to fall or dropping of materials.
Falling from Forklift: Forklifts are essential in work sites. Falling from elevated pallets or platforms lead to deadly accidents.
Unprotected Edges: If the edges are unprotected, and/or there is a gap between platforms and improper equipment transportation, the workers can get injured from such FFH-related hazards.
Ergonomic Hazards: Sometimes, workers stand at the platform's edge, extending their upper body from the platform. These ergonomic hazards lead to serious accidents in the workplace.
Natural Hazards: Sometimes accidents happen due to environmental causes as well. Workers can slip and fall in rain or slippery floors (commonly in oil & gas industry). Strong winds and excessive heat can also injure the workers.
Health Issues: Health issues are often ignored, but they can also indirectly lead to falls from height. Say, working at height while drowsy or tired can make fall more likely.
Why is it challenging to prevent fall accidents?
Fall from height is no new. Looking at the gravity of the situation, many dip their toes to bring out an absolute solution. But it's not a child's play. There are many challenges:
Round-the-clock monitoring of each worker is not possible by human means. Even while using CCTV for remote inspection of construction job sites or any other jobsite, it is difficult to alert the workers on-time to prevent the accident from taking place.
Most of the workers are not trained. They are not well aware of the risks, resulting in unsafe worker behavior. A study has shown that fall from height-related accidents in Saudi Arabia is mainly due to lack of awareness.
Many studies have shown that workplace safety and health-related hazards are directly linked to workers' health. Due to hard labour and rush work, it is normal for the workers to feel fatigued and less productive.
Fall detection technologies are mostly based on hard fall detection while they are not accurate enough to detect a near miss, i.e. worker tripped and almost fell but managed to regain his balance.
5 ways how viAct can help in managing Fall-from-Height
Fall from Height (FFH) and slips, trips and falls (STF) are significant causes of mortality in the workplaces, especially in industries such as construction, oil & gas etc. These workplace hazards might sound to be small but when they occur they can cause grave fatalities in the workplace.
It is thus crucial for the fast growing industries to have some fall prevention plan (FPP) in hand so as to reduce fatalities and ensure holistic safety in jobsites. This is where viAct’s AI solution for work at height safety can play a crucial role.
The following are the five ways how viAct leverages the power of scenario-based AI Video Analytics to help manage various job sites to manage fall from heights:
Slips, Trips, and Almost Falls Detection
Most of the solutions available to monitor the job sites have limited functionalities, as they are mostly based on hard fall detection. However, viAct has leveraged the power of computer vision for fall detection to detect even the minutest of near miss (i.e. worker tripped and almost fell but managed to regain his balance) incident to prevent smallest of FFH/STF accidents and ensure fool-proof work at height safety.
Safer Gondola/Forklift Operations
Using AI video analytics for gondola monitoring the stakeholders can effectively monitor the safe use and operation of Suspended Working Platform/Gondola and/or Forklifts. The intelligent and autonomous workplace safety solution can easily detect any safety non-compliance while working on platforms, say improper PPE, workers’ smoking behavior, workers’ risky acts like climbing on the fencing of the platform and the like. Moreover, using viTAG, it can also detect the tilting motion of platforms, thus ensuring their safer use and operation.
Life Safety Ropes & PPE Detection
Life Safety ropes and other PPEs like safety helmet, jackets etc. are crucial while working at heights. The AI Monitoring Solution detects whether or not the workers at height are (properly) hooked to life saving ropes, and have worn (proper) PPE or not. In case any worker without life safety rope hooked or (proper) PPE is detected, instant and real-time alerts are sent out to both the on-site and remote stakeholders, thus enabling them to take the necessary action to avoid any mishap.
Worker’s Improper Means of Climbing Detection
Improper means of climbing can be a source of great threat to the lives of the workers. The Workplace Safety Solution uses the power of vision intelligence to detect any instance of workers using improper means to reach heights such as forklifts or excavators and immediately alerts the stakeholders so as to avoid accidents before it is too late. These insights can be viewed anytime later in the dashboard and can be used for workers’ training.
Missing Barricades Detection
Barricading is essential in high-rise works to outline or block a dangerous area and warn of a boundary that should not be crossed to ensure safety of workers. The AI cameras can efficiently detect and alert missing barricades in the high-rise works so that stakeholders can take insightful actions and prevent any FFH instance related to missing barricades.
Thus, using video analytics for workplace safety, viAct ensures:
90% Savings in manual Inspection 95% Reduction in fatal slips and trips 80% Reduction in almost fall/slip incidences