Background: Falls are a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the construction industry. This study measured fall hazards at residential construction sites.
Methods: Trained carpenters administered the St. Louis Audit of Fall Risks and interviewed carpenters. The prevalence of fall prevention practices meeting safety criteria was counted and correlations explored.
Results: We identified a high prevalence of fall hazards at the 197 residential sites audited. Roof sheathing met safety criteria most consistently (81%) and truss setting least consistently (28%). Use of personal fall arrest and monitoring of unguarded floor openings were rare. Safer performance on several scales was correlated. Construction sites of large-sized contractors were generally safer than smaller contractors. Apprentice carpenters were less familiar with their employers' fall prevention plan than experienced workers.
Conclusions: Safety could be improved with consistent use of recognized fall prevention practices at residential construction sites.