Every year in the construction industry, falls account for an average of 310 deaths and 10,350 serious injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are the leading cause of death among construction workers in South Carolina and the rest of the US. In the effort to reduce falls in this industry, NIOSH has released a fact sheet full of good recommendations.
The fact sheet is broken down into roof, scaffold and ladder safety. Roof workers must, first and foremost, be properly trained and wear the right fall protection equipment. A fall protection program should also be in place. Employers must ensure that the correct anchorage is used for fall arrest systems. In adverse weather, they should cease work. When possible, employees should use the buddy system.
When it comes to ladders, safety begins with choosing the right one for the job. Workers should maintain three points of contact with the ladder, always face front when climbing it and never overload it. Both ladders and scaffolds should be placed on level ground. Employers should assign and train someone to supervise the building of scaffolds and inspect them each time they are used.
The sixth-annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction took place May 6 to 10. To help employers prepare, NIOSH offered free online resources.
Should individuals sustain workplace injuries, they may be eligible for compensation through the workers’ compensation program. Benefits can cover medical bills and a portion of lost wages. Victims do not need to prove that anyone’s negligence was behind the fall, but they may face opposition from the employer if there is evidence that they themselves are at fault, which is why the assistance of an attorney is advisable. A lawyer may also help victims who opt for a settlement (either in the form of an agreement and final release or a Form 16A settlement).