In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fatal work injuries involving falls decreased 20 percent in 2008 after a sharp increase in 2007. The 847 fatal falls in 2007 was the series high. Fatal falls to a lower level, which accounted for 85 percent of all falls, were down 23 percent in 2008. Fatal falls from roofs were down 26 percent and falls from ladders decreased by 14 percent. The number of fatal falls on same level (to a floor or walkway or against an object) increased slightly in 2008.
Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards. Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.