When Is Fall Protection Required in the Construction Industry?
Were you injured in a construction accident after falling from a height? Were your injuries the result of another's negligence?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent injured workers ensuring they receive the monetary recovery and workers' compensation benefits they deserve.
Call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our Chicago construction accident attorneys can talk to you at length about fall protection and accidents.
All information you share with our legal team remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Let us review your case's merits and begin the process of receiving financial compensation for your damages.
The building industry is among the most dangerous working sectors. It reports a higher number of severe accidents and injuries caused by these accidents.
A job as a construction worker ranks among the most hazardous jobs in the United States. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) categorizes events involving falls from heights as the most common construction accident in America.
Construction Site Fall Accident Statistics
A fall from heights accounts for almost 48% of construction workers' injuries and nearly 30% of fatalities. Moreover, 1 out of 5 workers suffering a fatal injury in the U.S. is from the building sector. Falls from above are often the leading cause of catastrophic damages.
Figures from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggest that 566 out of 1623 occupational deaths in the U.S. in 2018 were caused by falling from heights hazards.
OSHA also estimates that falling from height risk will continue as the leading cause of occupational deaths in the foreseeable future.
Required personal protective equipment and fall restraint systems are crucial. We require fall protection because it saves lives, lowers serious work related injuries, and mitigates fall hazards.
Measures to fight fall hazards and keep you protected from falling can include these:
- Safety net systems
- Safety nets
- Dall arrest systems
- Personal fall arrest systems
- Fixed ladder
- Guardrail systems
- Guardrail systems safety net
- Safety harness
- Conveyor belt
- Self retracting lifelines
- Safety belts other fall protection across the general industry
OSHA requires employers to train workers and protect workers on general industry workplaces and dangers of falling especially with an unprotected side or edge. Fall protection plans
What Causes Falling From Height?
Falling from heights risk can occur due to a lack of proper scaffolding, fragile roofs, unprotected edges, unstable equipment, and weather conditions, often the leading causes of falling from height.
Construction workers often work at significant heights using ladders leading to serious falls from above. A lack of protective gear is the main reason behind the high number of falls from heights reported by the construction industry.
Elevated work stations and overhead platforms (i.e. elevated open sided platforms) present even a competent person with dangers. This is more so if OSHA standards and safety requirements are ignored like with guardrails and toe boards.
Learn about what OSHA requires and why OSHA standards exist to stay safe around dangerous machines and a high working surface. This will prevent employees and prevent workers in certain jobs
Required Fall Protection Plan and Occupational Safety Guidelines
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines require all businesses to have fall prevention mechanisms if workers work at certain heights using ladders.
OSHA has also released specific guidelines for the construction industry due to the high number of falls from height accidents in the construction sector.
OSHA requires general businesses to have fall prevention systems in place if workers have to work at the height of 12 feet above the ground to safeguard their safety against falls. This limit is 5 feet for the shipbuilding industry and 6 feet for the construction industry.
The regulatory agency also mandates different fall-prevention systems that businesses must provide to employees to prevent falls or reduce injuries resulting from height hazards.
These fall protection measures include:
- Employers must provide a safety guardrail and toe-board around elevated open-sided platforms, floors, stairs, or runways to arrest the risk.
- To minimize the risk, employers must guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally fall into using safety guardrails, toe-board, or a floor hole cover.
- Employers must provide other safety means of fall prevention such as chest harnesses, full-body harnesses, stair railings, hand railings, and safety nets to keep risk at bay. Availing safety training to employees is also essential.
Companies must mark areas prone to falls from above-using markings and graphics visible to employees working in the area. Failure to do so may put lives at risk and open the company to lawsuits.
Forepersons, supervisors, and managers are required to provide lanyards, safety harnesses, and other fall protection equipment free of cost to their employees to avoid risk.
Not doing so is a clear fall protection violation of OSHA guidelines meant for protecting workers from accidents involving falls from heights.
Harnesses offer the best personal fall protection and are the safest fall arrest systems in use today. Businesses of all sizes use harnesses of one type or another to avoid risk.
Fall safety gear is often successful in arresting the fall risk and ensuring that a falling person doesn't hit the ground. Equipment such as harnesses also helps in positioning when working in a confined space.
Some businesses also use equipment such as self-retracting lanyards to reduce the fall length. Self-retracting lanyards act as seatbelts and can be released or retracted during normal movement. These safety devices lock in during a fall and minimize how far the worker falls.
From our experience, job hazards can occur on a surface with an unprotected side or no guard rail of a fall distance of four feet to six feet no matter what OSHA standards say.
Six feet in general industry work is a long way to fall, and can cause many injuries and deaths under normal working conditions. Simple fall protection steps can be taken to reduce these.
How a Fall From Height Typically Occurs
Most falls from height occur at construction sites. This includes buildings under construction, demolition sites where demolishing is taking place, and other locations where construction work at a height is happening using ladders.
Fall protection plans emphasize personal fall arrest systems or a railing and toe board at elevated heights to prevent employees from falling suddenly or an employee on a walking task.
Injuries You Can Get From Falling From a Height
Falling from ladders often leads to severe injuries that can sometimes prove fatal and are often life-changing to the person involved in the job. Therefore, fall protection and safety awareness training among employees is critical in preventing falls from height accidents.
Most common injuries after falling include:
- Broken bones
- Fractured elbows
- Thoracic injuries
- Pelvic injuries
- Ankle joint fracture
- Fracture of upper limbs
- Broken skull
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Bruises and lacerations
- Ruptured discs
- Wrongful death
Injuries depend on several factors like the height from where the person fell. Falling from minor heights below 2 to 4 feet does not cause significant injuries.
In contrast, falling from a substantial elevation of more than 12 feet could lead to severe damage to the body.
Hiring a Construction Fall Attorney to Resolve Your Personal Injury Case
Did you suffer harm from someone's negligence? Did a family member die of a wrongful death caused by someone else's fault?
Our fall protection and construction site fall attorneys can evaluate your case's merits based on medical records, the accident scene, eyewitness accounts, and the severity of your injuries.
Call our legal team today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This ensures you pay nothing until we win your case.