400 construction workers injured in New York: this is the estimated total for 2015, nearly double what it was the previous year. While construction sites present a number of risks to workers, the main cause of death in the industry is falls from roofs, scaffolds, ladders or other elevations. Nationwide, falls on construction sites killed nearly 300 construction workers in 2013.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration provides guidelines to help protect construction workers from fall injuries. We’ll spend some time in this and in subsequent posts reviewing the information for our Utica readers. We provide this discussion not as specific legal advice, but as general information only.
The federal agency emphasizes three steps for employers to prevent falls on a construction site: plan, provide and train. Plan means to build safety into the job from the earliest phases. Employers should consider the tasks involved and what safety equipment workers will need; they should be sure to budget for appropriate equipment, like personal fall arrest systems if holes or skylights are part of the project.
Provide refers to the kind of equipment workers will need to minimize the risk of a fall. Certain scaffolds or ladders may be appropriate for roof work, for example. Equipment should also be regularly inspected and maintained in good condition. Finally, train means to make sure that everyone understands both the equipment and tools provided, and how to recognize potentially hazardous conditions.
These are broadly applicable steps that employers should follow on any job site. Workers who feel they were not provided with appropriate plans, equipment and training and who suffered a fall may wish to consult with a legal professional regarding their workers’ compensation claim or any additional avenues for compensation.
Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “Welcome to OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign,” accessed on Nov. 20, 2015