By Andrew R. Bronsnick
We recently reviewed the hazards construction professionals endure when working with scaffolding, which, for the past four years, has been one of the top five OSHA violations in America.
Today we’ll examine the number one violation: Fall Protection.
OSHA Standard number 1926.501 explains an employer’s duty to have fall protection and states that: “Employees shall be allowed to work on […] surfaces only when the surfaces have the requisite strength and structural integrity.”
But not everyone follows the rules. There were still a staggering 7,270 fall protection violations in the U.S. this fiscal year. And in 2016, falls were responsible for 384 of 991 total deaths in the construction industry. Construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from height – more than seven times the rate of other industries. Between working on edges and skylights to simply using a ladder, the number of violations and injuries still demonstrate that they can happen anywhere.
Too many construction workers die or are getting injured on the job in New Jersey. Most of these injuries can be prevented if workers observe basic safety rules. Unfortunately too often construction workers are not properly trained about the dangers of working on construction sites. Many contractors or developers hire cheap, uninformed workers with little to no experience who get injured or even die in accidents because they haven’t been properly trained.
Some of the most common construction site injuries resulting from these accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Cuts and lacerations.
- Broken bones.
- Loss of limbs.
All of these injuries can cost several million dollars in doctors visits, operations and procedures, medication, lost wages and therapy. Additionally, they can put tremendous emotional and physical strain on your loved ones, who might depend on your income to live or be taking care of you during recovery. Consider that the next time you step on a platform that feels unstable. Should you feel unsafe while at work, bring the reason to the attention of your supervisor and wait until stability can be ensured.
The National Safety Council offers some suggestions to prevent falls:
- Make sure you have level ground to set up the equipment
- If working outside, check the weather forecast; never work in inclement weather
- Use the correct tool for the job, and use it as intended
- Ensure stepladders have a locking device to hold the front and back open
- Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder
- Place the ladder on a solid surface and never lean it against an unstable surface
- A straight or extension ladder should be 1 foot away from the surface it rests on for every 4 feet of height and extend at least 3 feet over the top edge
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a fall on a construction site in New Jersey, you need an experienced lawyer to present your injuries during insurance matters and Workers’ Compensation hearings. We’ll review all medical records, whether from your doctor or from physicians chosen by your employer or the Workers’ Compensation insurance provider. We’ll also prepare and file any required documents and will be your voice in all hearings or proceedings, including any appeals. This will better ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.