Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 2013, out of the 796 total work-related fatalities in the construction industry, 294 were caused by falls.
Some responsibility for site fall accidents clearly lies with employers. Among OSHA’s Top 10 most frequently cited safety standards for violations in 2014, three were related to falls:
- Fall protection, the number one standard for violations
- Scaffolding general requirements, the number three standard for violations
- Ladders, the number seven standard for violations
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a construction site fall accident, it's in your best interests to consult with a knowledgeable construction accident attorney. At the Sevenish Law Firm, we've been helping accident victims and their families in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana since 1985. Our goal is to maximize the benefits and compensation you receive for your injuries.
Safety Rules to Prevent Falls on Construction Sites
OSHA regulations require employers to set up the workplace to prevent workers from falling off of elevated workstations or overhead platforms, or into holes in the floors or walls. OSHA fall protection requirements in the construction industry begin at six feet above ground level. When work is being done over dangerous machinery and equipment, fall protection is required, regardless of the distance.
OSHA lists the following specific requirements that employers must follow for worker fall protection:
- Every floor hole a worker could accidentally walk into must be guarded with a railing and toe board or a floor hole cover.
- Employers must provide a guardrail and toe board around every elevated, open-sided platform, floor, or runway.
- If a worker could fall into any dangerous equipment or machinery, such as a conveyor belt or a vat of acid, guardrails and toe boards must be provided, regardless of height.
- For certain jobs, other means of fall protection may be required, including safety harness and line, safety nets, handrails, and stair railings.
Safety Tips to Prevent Falls In Construction
OSHA launched the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction with the goal of reducing falls in construction by encouraging employers to:
- Plan ahead to get the job done safely
- Provide the right equipment
- Train workers to use the equipment safely
OSHA offers the following safety tips regarding specific fall hazards:
- Only use ladders that comply with OSHA standards.
- Inspect ladders for cracked or broken parts before each use.
- Do not put more weight on a ladder than it is designed to hold.
- Portable ladders should be positioned so that the side rails extend at least three feet above the landing.
- Secure side rails to a rigid support at the top. Use grab device when three-foot extension is not possible.
- Ensure that the weight on the ladder will not cause it to slip off its support.
Unprotected Sides, Floor Holes, and Wall Openings
- When workers are exposed to a fall of six feet or more, use one of the following: guardrail systems, safety net systems, or fall arrest systems.
- Guard or cover any openings or floor holes as soon immediately.
- Floor hole covers should be constructed to support twice the weight of the workers, materials and equipment that may be imposed on them at any given time.
- Generally, fall prevention systems, such as guardrails, are better than fall protection systems, such as fall arrest devices and safety nets.
Who Is Responsible for Construction Site Fall Accidents?
Indiana workers are prohibited by workers' compensation rules from suing their employers for work-related injuries. However, third parties could be responsible for your accident and injuries. Consult with an experienced Indiana construction accident lawyer to find out if you have a third-party claim.
When you work with Sevenish Law Firm, our seasoned accident lawyers will investigate your construction site fall to determine who may be liable for your injuries. Potentially responsible parties may include:
- Employees of companies other than your employer
- General contractors or subcontractors
- Manufacturers of defective equipment or parts
- Property owners
What Legal Options Do Insured Workers Have After a Construction Site Fall?
Your best course of action if you've been injured or lost a loved one in a construction site fall is to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible. Generally, injured workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Workers' comp will cover your medical expenses and partially reimburse you for the wages lost while you were recovering from your injuries. Families of workers who have died in tragic construction fall accidents are generally entitled to claim workers' compensation death benefits.
At Sevenish Law Firm, we will investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident to determine if any third parties may be held accountable for your injuries. If your fall was caused by the negligence of someone other than your employer, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim for damages.
We offer a free and confidential case consultation with no obligation. Contact our firm by phone, email, or online form. We can advise you of your legal options and tell you what damages you may be entitled to claim.