According to 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls were a top cause of workplace deaths last year. Unfortunately, while the dangers of falls are well-known to employers and employees, employers still aren't doing enough to help keep workers' safe.
Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys urge employers to make a resolution to do better on following fall protection guidelines in the upcoming year. We also want employers and workers to be aware of the grave dangers that falls present in the workplace.
The Dangers of Workplace Falls
The dangers of workplace falls are undisputed and statistics clearly show that many workers are seriously injured or killed as a result of either falling on the same level (slipping, tripping, etc.) or falling to a lower level (down a hole, off scaffolding, etc.). In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics :
- 666 workers died as a result of falling on the jobsite in 2011. In total, falls were responsible for 14 percent of all 2011 workplace deaths
- 108 fatal workplace falls occurred as a result of slips, trips or other falls on the same level.
- 60 fatal workplace falls occurred when a worker fell down through an opening.
- 38 fatal workplace falls involved a worker falling from equipment or falling as a result of the collapse of a structure.
In addition to the hundreds of workers who were killed in falls, many workers were injured as well. In fact, there were 3 million injured workers in 2011 and many of them were hurt as a result of falling.
Yet, despite the fact that so many workers die or are injured due to falls, employers often seem to come up short in taking safety steps to stop these accidents from occurring. In fact, many employers even go so far as to violate safety standards set forth by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
Falls are Top Cause of OSHA Citations
Recently, OSHA released a list of the most frequency cited standards in 2012. The data on citations was collected from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012. According to their information on OSHA violations that employers were cited for, fall protection rules in the construction industry were the number one source of violations.
In addition, violations of scaffolding standards and requirements were the number three most common cause of citations. Of course, when an employer violates rules on safe scaffolding, the risk of falls is also increased.
OSHA also reported that falls were number one and scaffolding number two on the list of standards that OSHA assessed the highest penalties for in 2012. This means employers paid the greatest price for noncompliance with fall protection and scaffolding safety standards.
The high number of deaths caused by falls, coupled with the fact that noncompliance with fall protection guidelines and scaffolding guidelines are the top causes for OSHA citations, all clearly indicate that employers need to do better in securing the safety of their workers.