Fall safety and worker protection is a serious issue on construction sites – an issue that may make the difference between life and death. Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in the construction industry. It is crucial that construction companies and contractors establish safety procedures and protocols to safeguard the lives of workers, particularly with regard to fall safety.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 5,333 workers died nationwide on the job in 2019, on average more than 100 a week or about 15 deaths each day. About 20% of these worker fatalities – 1,061 deaths – in private industry in the calendar year 2019 were in construction. In other words, one out of five worker deaths in 2019 were killed in construction accidents. Statistics over the years also show that falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for nearly one-third of construction-related fatalities.
Whether you are a roofer, installer of solar panels, ironworker/steelworker or a laborer who works on ladders and scaffolds, fall protection and safety is imperative. Here are four important ways to prevent falls at construction sites:
1. Provide proper safety equipment. Workers at construction sites need to be provided with the right type of safety equipment as well as instructions on how and when to use them. Workers should receive protective equipment such as goggles, safety-toed footwear, gloves and hard hats. Equipment such as ladders that are used routinely on constructions sites should be safe and up to code.
Falls from ladders are far too common in construction and can be prevented with routine inspections. Ladders should be inspected for cracked, broken or defective parts before each and every use. Another employee should be on the ground to monitor the ladder and the worker.
2. Provide workers with fall safety equipment. Equipment that prevent falls have the potential to save lives in construction sites. Workers should be provided with safety harnesses, guardrails for support, safety nets and other fall arrest systems. Construction companies must create a full fall prevention and safety plan before a project commences and such plans must comply with federal safety laws and regulations.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in long shoring operations.
3. Provide workers with safety training. By training workers properly on how to use tools, equipment and machinery safely, the risk of injuries and fatalities from falls can be significantly reduced. It is also important to train them on safety requirements and procedures included in the safety plan. Such training must be provided in a language that workers can understand and process. A majority of construction workers in New York City are immigrants for whom English is not the first language. Communication is critical when it comes to fall prevention.
4. Proper inspection and cleanup is a must. Each day, the site manager or other qualified personnel should inspect all machines, tools and protective equipment to make sure they work properly. Scaffolds and ladders should also be inspected to make sure they are safe to use. Work areas should be clean and free of hazards. A cleanup of work areas should be done before work begins.
If You Have Been Injured on the Job
Workers who have been injured in a construction accident can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer which usually covers medical expenses and a portion of lost income. In addition, workers and their families may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of parties, and thus have two sources of compensation.
Third-party claims are filed against parties other than the employer or co-employees and may include general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, managing agents, construction companies, etc. In cases where a worker dies from injuries suffered on the job, surviving family members may seek death benefits through workers’ compensation and/or file a wrongful death claim against a third party.
If you have suffered injuries in a construction-related accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Our law firm also recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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