Falls in construction represent 14 percent of the fatalities on the job and are estimated to cost construction firms approximately $27,000 in direct costs per incident. 

Daniel Hindman, associate professor of wood engineering in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, has spent the last eight years researching ways to help make the construction industry safer by reducing the number of worker falls.

For example, Hindman and Tonya Smith-Jackson, chair of the industrial and systems engineering department at North Carolina A&T State University, are using an $825,464 research grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to develop and evaluate a new Fall Arrest System for residential housing construction.

NIOSH has partnered with several other safety centers in a two-year national campaign to help prevent falls in construction. In support of this campaign, the latest issue of the journal Wood Design Focus, of which Hindman serves as editor, has been entirely devoted to the topic.

“I wanted to encourage other construction industry groups to learn about safety and some of the current research on protecting workers,” said Hindman, who co-directs Virginia Tech’s Center for Innovation in Construction Safety and Health Research. “Engineers and architects have a special role to play in encouraging safety, and the purpose of this issue is to highlight that role.”

The issue contains articles discussing fall protection methods, testing of guardrails to protect roof openings, testing of fall arrest anchors on trusses, and the need to observe lifting truss assemblies.

Wood Design Focus is available by subscription from the Forest Products Society. For a complimentary copy of the spring 2013 issue, email Akiko Nakata.