A worker in Massachusetts fell 14 feet from a wooden beam at a construction site recently, landing on a hammer and sustaining severe injuries to his back.
Although those injuries were characterized as non-life-threatening by first responders, one deputy fire chief did concede, “He’ll be out of work for a while.”
This is unfortunately not surprising, given that falls are one of the top causes of job site injuries nationally. Further, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports falls are the No. 1 cause of death in the construction industry. In 2013, there were nearly 300 fatal falls to a lower level. That was out of nearly 830 total deaths in the construction industry. That’s about 36 percent of the total.
Construction worker falls are preventable. They are not simply part of the cost of doing business or having a job.
The key to prevention, OSHA asserts, is for companies and workers to:
- Plan ahead to get the job done safely.
- Provide the right equipment.
- Train everyone to use the equipment safely.
Those actions alone could have a huge impact in reducing the number of falls seen in the construction industry annually.
Falls from roofs, scaffolding and ladders are a primary focus of OSHA’s efforts to educate workers and employers and reduce workplace fall injuries.
With regard to roofs, the agency advises workers to wear a harness and always stay connected, make sure that harness fits, use guardrails and lifelines, inspect fall protection equipment before use and guard or cover any skylights, openings or other holes.
With ladders, OSHA recommends using the right ladder for the job, maintaining three points of contact at all times, securing the ladder, always facing the ladder and covering all skylights, openings or other holes.
With scaffolding, employers should fully plank scaffolds, make sure there is proper access to that scaffold, plumb and level it, complete all guardrails, make sure the footing is stable and have a competent person inspect it before use.
In the recent Massachusetts construction worker fall, the man was working on construction of a six-story apartment building and ground-floor retail center. The worker was reportedly working on a beam on the fourth floor when the beam “rolled.” This caused him to fall down to the third floor, landing on his back. There was a hammer on the back of his tool belt, and he made impact with that hammer. Though it did not puncture the skin, that reportedly made the fall much more painful and may have caused more damage to his back.
The man had to be transported down to the ground by crane in a basket because stairs hadn’t yet been installed on the structure.
Workers injured on a site like likely will be able to secure workers’ compensation, and they also may consider exploring a third-party lawsuit if other entities on site beside the employer were negligent.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Worker injured in fall at Quincy Center building project, Sept. 17, 2015, By Patrick Ronan, The Patriot dger
More Blog Entries:
Fatal Construction Accident Highlights Industry Dangers, Sept. 15, 2015, Rock Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog