Falls in construction represent 14 percent of on-the-job fatalities and are estimated to cost construction firms approximately $27,000 in direct costs per incident. Associate Professor Daniel Hindman of the Department Sustainable Biomaterials 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 (NIOSH) 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 spring 2013 issue of the journal Wood Design Focus, of which Hindman serves as editor, was 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 journal 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.