Workplace Falls in the Construction Industry

Construction Workplace Falls Claim Nearly 300 Lives Each Year

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported the leading cause of death in the construction industry resulted from workplace falls. Of the reported 800 construction deaths, nearly 300 were from falls, the vast majority of which were from ladders, roofs, or scaffolds. A serious injury can occur from a height as little as 6 feet but with the right planning, the use of safety equipment, and the proper training, fatal falls can be prevented.

Using Safety Equipment Prevents Workplace Falls

OSHA’s Fall Prevention campaign is designed to educate workers and companies about the dangers of falls and how to prevent them on construction sites in three easy-to-follow steps:

  • Plan ahead for safety before the construction job begins and evaluate the construction site for all potential hazards to workers, including fall hazards
  • Provide appropriate safety equipment to prevent slips, trips, and falls on the site, from ladders, roofs, and scaffolding
  • Train all workers how to use construction equipment safely

Workers have the right to a safe place to work

Construction sites have hazards everywhere you look and construction firms have a duty to plan ahead to know about and prepare for all potential workplace hazards. Many sites have holes in the floor or walking surfaces and every hole should have a guard such as a railing, or floor cover. Floors should be kept clean and dry to prevent workers from slipping and excess construction materials such as boards or pipes should be removed or flagged with a warning sign to prevent tripping and falling. Stair rails, handrails, safety harnesses, and safety lines should always be used, depending on the hazard.

Construction firms are also responsible for providing the proper safety equipment for all workers, at all times, while on the work site, and they also bear the responsibility of educating their workers on how to use construction equipment safely.

Job safety is also your responsibility

Be vigilant for potential hazards on the job site, follow safety rules, and always use safety equipment especially when ladders are part of the job. Falls from ladders, roofs, and scaffolding can be prevented if safety procedures are followed and proper safety equipment is provided and used. Common sense safety recommendations to maintain ladder stability and balance include:

  • Always have another worker hold the base when working on a ladder; if another worker is not available, make a base to stabilize the ladder before using it
  • Never stand on the top step of the ladder
  • Avoid standing on the side of the rungs of the ladder
  • Never hold or carry heavy items while trying to balance and climb
  • If a ladder is to be used to access another level it should extend at least 3 feet above the landing point so that there is a handhold when climbing off of the ladder
  • Never set up a ladder on an uneven surface or near a doorway unless the doorway is locked

Steel-toed, non-slip, and grease or debris-free work shoes are also other good pieces of safety equipment you should always use to avoid trips, slips, and falls on construction sites.

If you or a loved one is injured in a workplace fall, a consultation with a skilled attorney is highly recommended. Navigating the complex issues of workers’ compensation law can be difficult. For example, workers’ compensation laws limit damages for work-related injuries to medical bills and partially lost wages, but there can be an enhancement in the number of benefits a worker receives if a safety violation can be proven. Likewise, an injured worker is not limited to workers’ compensation benefits when another worker on the job site employed by a different employer causes the injuries. Under that scenario, the injured worker can pursue a claim for full damages for lost wages as well as pain and suffering damages that are not recoverable through workers’ compensation.