Feds: Construction industry failing to prioritize safety and training
Falls are the leading cause of deaths in the United States construction industry. Each day, 12-13 U.S. workers die as a result of a traumatic injury on the job.
With improved training and safety gear available, why has the construction industry failed to address the issue of workers suffering fatal falls from heights more effectively?
Injuries caused by falls are more likely to be life-threatening than most other types of injuries. Other common accidents related to falling objects, workers’ overexertion or problems from vehicles or machines are more likely to injure only a part of the body. Injuries from falls can easily impact the whole body and vital organs.
Surviving falls from heights
The chances of surviving a fall from over 30 feet are low. Falling from even a height of 6 feet can be deadly depending on what body parts are impacted and the surface on which someone lands.
Spinal, head and neck injuries are common from falls, and such injuries can leave the worker severely disabled. They also can lead to death.
Falls are not the most common workplace problem. For example, worker overexertion has led to more days away from work from 2012-2016. Falls, because of the severity of the damage done to the body, are more likely to be deadly compared with other occupational injuries.
Establishing workplace safety requires two steps from an employer. First, companies must provide tools, machinery and other technical support to protect workers in dangerous situations. Second, businesses not only must provide workers with training on how to use that gear and equipment but continue offering on-going instruction and other support.
Safety equipment has become more effective and affordable in recent years. Equipment can be tailored to specific jobs. A combination of fall arrest systems, scaffolds and equipment like lighting, ladders and protective gear can prevent injuries, if used correctly.
In other words, right up there with providing the safety equipment as a priority for construction businesses, is training. Training that provides clear examples of how workers can be safe on the job should be given by a professional consultant and the education should be provided periodically, not just once.
Training that focuses on how to use tools, how to spot a potential hazard and how to maintain a workplace culture of health and safety will spark interest in using gear among workers.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers educational resources and training as part of its fall prevention campaign, “Plan. Provide. Train. Three Simple Steps To Preventing Falls.”
For example, when estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment and plan to have gear available to workers at the construction site.
Workers who are 6 feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they fall. That means the construction company should provide them with ladders, scaffolds and safety gear tailored to the job.
Out of 971 construction fatalities in 2017, there were 366 from falls. These deaths are preventable, according to OSHA.
Contact Giampa Law today for help with issues about falls from heights at construction sites and other workplace injuries. We are personal injury lawyers located in the Bronx, NY.