Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Fall Safety Alert

Thursday, May 10, 2007 | 07:00pm

NASHVILLE – In the first five months of this year, six Tennessee workers have fallen to their deaths. Falls are one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities in Tennessee and the United States, and they are among the most preventable. Commissioner James Neeley is urging all employers and workers to review fall safety training and prevent the loss of lives.


“Fall Protection is a special emphasis program with our Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” said Commissioner Neeley. “I have seen too many Tennessee workers lose their lives to these senseless accidents that can easily be prevented.”

Fall hazards happen in all trades. The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) is committed to helping employees and employers identify fall hazards and select the necessary protection to control or eliminate the hazard. TOSHA compliance officers and consultants will evaluate fall hazards in the workplace and intervene where employees are exposed. In addition whenever and wherever TOSHA staff members observe employees exposed to fall hazards, they are empowered to stop and conduct an inspection.

The following fall fatalities have happened this year:

  • January Knoxville Employee fell from platform changing message sign
  • January Memphis Employee fell replacing ceiling tiles
  • February Memphis Employee fell through skylight of warehouse
  • April Memphis Employee fell down elevator shaft
  • April Bruceton Employee fell from roof
  • May Knoxville Employee fell from third floor of construction site

The following are Tennessee fatalities from falls from 2002 to present:

Year Death
2007 6 (first 5 months)
2006 7
2005 7
2004 6
2003 11
2002 6

The TOSHA division offers the following safety tips to employers and workers:  

Fall Protection Safety Tips

  • Fall hazards must be identified and protection provided.
  • Guard rail systems or personal fall arrest equipment (for example; body harness or lanyard). is required when the fall hazard is greater than four feet for general industry and six feet for construction workers.
  • Employers should utilize controlled access areas, nets and employee awareness training.  

Fifty three percent of fall fatalities happen from a distance of 10 feet high or less. Fifty percent of victims fall from ladders and scaffolding and most fall victims are not wearing fall protection. Length of service with a company was not a factor, but training was.

For more information on fall protection call the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health division of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development at 1-800-249-8510.

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