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Strategies for Lowering the Risk of Worker Falls on Construction Sites

safety harness on walkwayEach year, falls are some of the most common accidents to occur on construction sites. These accidents happen for a variety of reasons, from poor planning, slippery substances on walkways, carelessness, defective or broken equipment, and poor training of workers.

There are various steps employers, contractors, architects and others can take to try to prevent these falls and the severe, possibly life-threatening injuries they can cause.

If a third-party that is not your employer failed to take proper steps and this caused you to fall and injure yourself, you have a right to file a lawsuit against that party to seek compensation for the injuries you have sustained. Contact our experienced Bakersfield construction accident lawyers at Berry, Smith & Bartell to learn more about pursuing compensation.

OSHA Advice: Planning, Providing Equipment and Training

Falls continue to be one of the leading reasons for worker fatalities in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This organization reports that 370 of the 991 construction worker deaths in 2016 were caused by falls to a lower level. In 2017, there were 366 deaths caused by falls to a lower level (there were a total of 971 construction worker deaths).

OSHA has many regulations and standards employers must follow and implement to help prevent worker falls. These regulations and standards can be divided into three main categories: planning, providing necessary equipment and training.

Planning

Employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment for their employees to prevent falls. This responsibility begins with planning at the job site. They should decide how the job will be performed, identify the tasks that will be involved in the process and analyze which safety equipment will be necessary to complete each task without causing injury. When estimating the cost of a project, the employer should consider the cost of safety equipment and of ensuring that the equipment and necessary tools are available at the construction site each work day.

Providing Personal Protection Equipment

Many construction site deaths involved workers who were not wearing their fall protection gear or not wearing it properly. If employees are working at least six feet above the lower level, employers are required to provide fall protection, personal protection equipment and other necessary equipment to help workers perform the job safely, such as ladders, scaffolds and harnesses.

Employers should provide a harness for workers who perform roof work. Additionally, employers must ensure that the system properly fits the worker and must regularly inspect it.

Training

Employees should be trained on proper construction and safety methods. For example, when working with a ladder, they should know to keep the ladder on a level surface, secure it by locking its metal braces and maintain three points of contact. When working on a scaffold, workers should have training on how to properly set it up, how to install guardrails and how to level the scaffold.

Additionally, employees should be trained on how to set up the job site and how to safely use fall-protection equipment. Employers must also train workers on recognizing hazards on the job site.

Preventing Falls in Certain Areas

There are certain areas on construction sites that put workers at greater risk of falls than others. Hazardous areas and ways to prevent falls from them are discussed below.

Roofs

Roofs are particularly dangerous in the construction industry due to uneven footing and the distance from the ground. Some safety measures that can prevent falls from roofs include:

  • Removing clutter from the roof area, including electrical cords, tools and buckets
  • Requiring employees to wear a full-body harness that fits
  • Anchoring the lifeline to a safe point
  • Ensuring the harness is connected to a lifeline that is short enough to protect the worker from hitting the ground in a fall

Edges

Openings in a wall or holes in the floor can create a fall hazard. Some protection strategies around unprotected edges include the following:

  • Covering edges or putting up rope around them
  • Using hole coverings that support twice the weight of the worker and his or her materials
  • Making areas with holes off limits to employees
  • Removing clutter that could cause a trip around these edges

Scaffolds

Scaffolds that are not constructed property can cause dangerous construction worker falls and deaths. These accidents can be avoided by taking the following safety measures:

  • Setting up the scaffold on a level base
  • Using scaffold grade wood boards or metal to construct the scaffold
  • Tying the scaffold to the building structure
  • Fully covering working area with walk boards
  • Installing guardrails
  • Providing fall protection systems

Ladders

Not using ladders properly is a common cause of construction worker injuries and deaths. Ways to safely use a ladder include:

  • Securing the ladder on a level surface
  • Not standing on the top step
  • Not overreaching while on the ladder
  • Facing toward the ladder while on it

Contact a Reputable Attorney for Legal Assistance

If you were injured by a fall at a construction site, it is important that you seek legal assistance. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The attorneys at Berry, Smith & Bartell can assist you with your claim.

Your consultation is 100 percent free and there is no obligation to pursue a claim. You will not be charged anything for having us represent you unless we recover compensation.

For a free case evaluation with Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation call 1-800-848-6288 today!

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