Facts about Fall Hazards

The leading cause of construction site fatalities are falls from height, while slip-and-falls (falls on one level) are a leading cause of injuries. It is therefore a major concern for those involved in the construction industry as well as the occupational safety and regulation body.

Fall hazards are identified as a part of the so-called “Fatal Four” in construction in company with electrocution, struck-by, and caught-in accidents. These are the main causes of fatalities (59% in 2009) and injuries in construction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identified the incidence of different types of fall hazards over a 13-year period (1992-2005) and determined that nearly one out of three was from the roof, 1 out of 5 was from a stage, scaffold or ladder, and 1 out of 10 from girders. From the total of fall hazard fatalities, one-fourth was from falls from lifts, stationary vehicles, and existing openings i.e. sky roof.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses the issue of fall hazards by requiring the provision and use of fall protection gear for workers working more than 4 feet from the ground or when using or around dangerous machinery and equipment. As pointed out in the website of law firm Hach & Rose, the construction company is responsible for providing the proper safety equipment and tools which are in good condition and regularly maintained, and for the training of workers in their use. In New York, construction companies and contractors are absolutely liable for worksite injuries or fatalities, so it is in their best interest to see to it that their workers strictly follow safety regulations for fall prevention.

Some examples of how fall hazard injuries can happen:

  • Use of a makeshift scaffold or used beyond its load capacity i.e. 4 people for a scaffold designed for two
  • Failure to wear safety harness or fall protection gear
  • Lack of warning signs on open holes or hazardous areas
  • Faulty harness or climbing equipment i.e. ladders

If you have been seriously injured in a fall hazard situation in a construction site, you may need to seek compensation for your medical and other expenses. Find out how by asking a construction accident lawyer.

Preventing Workplace Injuries

Workplace injuries are undesirable from any perspective. The worker suffers pain and is unable to work, and the employer suffers loss of productivity and profit. According to the website of Pohl & Berk, workers’ compensation can help somewhat in alleviating the effects of workplace injury. This is a form of insurance that employers are required to take out in the event of a worker injury. It protects them from lawsuits and helps employees recover from being hurt, so it should be a win-win situation for everyone, except the insurance company. It should be noted that it is not always easy to make a successful workers’ compensation claim because insurance companies tend to avoid making payouts. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can make the process go much smoother, so if a workplace injury is bad enough to have a serious impact on your income, you should consider hiring one to get your workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible.

However, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. As explained in an article on the WorkSTEPS website, determining the functional capabilities of a prospective employee before hiring can minimize the number of work days lost to injury or illness. For example, an employee with asthma will definitely not be eligible to work in construction.

But even with pre-employment testing, workplace injuries can still occur if the proper safety regulations and precautions are not taken. In this, employers and employees have to work together in preventing workplace injuries. According to the website of these Birmingham

The employer has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the workplace. This is not limited only to elimination of obvious hazards such as uneven floors, poorly maintained equipment, improper storage, or exposed wiring. Employees should also be provided with protective equipment when indicated and office workers should be provided with ergonomic workstations to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries.

On the other hand, employees should do their part to reasonably ensure their own safety and the safety of their co-workers. Safety regulations such as wearing of hard hats and other protective equipment should be followed; observed hazards should be reported; and reasonable care should be taken when operating office and other equipment.