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3 reasons workers don't use fall protection gear

Fall protection gear is critical in the construction industry, as falls are one of the top causes of injury and death year after year. Working at heights is unavoidable in this line of employment, so that fall risk isn't going anywhere. Plus, workers don't have to fall from a high-rise project to get injured. Just falling 10 feet off of a single-story home can be deadly.

Even so, workers often neglect to use their fall protection gear. If companies want to increase the usage rates, they must know why this keeps happening. Per Occupational Health and Safety, here are three of the top reasons:

1. The gear is uncomfortable.

Workers often complain about the weight. They have a lot of tools and other gear to carry around. Adding in fall protection gear just makes them feel exhausted and miserable.

2. The gear makes it harder to do the job.

Workers want to do a quality job and they want to get done quickly. They feel like the gear gets in the way, slowing them down and leading to mistakes. Since mistakes and low production levels can get them fired, they skip out on the fall protection gear.

3. They just get too hot.

New York isn't known for its balmy weather, but it gets hot in the summer, when construction projects are in full swing. Workers often try to shed layers, and that may mean ditching the protective equipment.

It is worth noting that the workers are certainly not always to blame. In some cases, for instance, there could be a company culture that encourages them to take off the gear. They may feel like they have no choice, even when they want to use it.

For instance, companies naturally push for maximum production from their workers. An employee may feel like he or she is constantly being told to rush, to cut corners and to work in an unsafe manner just to get the job done more quickly. Workers know that this is unsafe, but they'll do things they don't agree with when their very employment is on the line.

Occupational Health and Safety also notes that companies need to spend more time training workers to use fall protection gear. They may not be using it properly, putting them at risk. Even if they are, increased training can make them feel more comfortable and help them be more productive. Companies need to be proactive, not negligent, in training workers. This can help overcome the reasons they may take off the gear.

Falls will always be a risk. It's been true for decades, with or without fall protection gear. It's crucial for those who get injured to know their rights, as these injuries can often be catastrophic and potentially career-ending.

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