Construction-related falls and what to do to avoid them

A significant number of workers’ compensation claims in the construction industry involve a fall from an elevated surface. Construction workers and employers in Pennsylvania should know that fall-related injuries, more than other injuries, can leave victims dealing with severe injuries to multiple parts of the body and thus lead to more time off work.

There are ways to prevent construction-related falls, though. Employers could start by holding a stand-down. Every year, OSHA sponsors a nationwide event called the Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. During a stand-down, employees get to talk directly to their employer about any hazards they face on the job. Employers, in turn, can have a hazard assessment done and turn up safety issues that had been overlooked.

The importance of training must not be underestimated. Workers should know how to operate and inspect work platforms like mobile scaffolding and scissor lifts. They should be provided with the right protective gear, and the platforms should be equipped with guardrails. If any equipment needs repairing or replacing, workers should be trained on handling these tasks. A rope and pulley system should be installed for lifting materials up.

Employers should write a policy or plan specifically for ladders. Eschewing the standard A-frame ladders whenever possible, workers can stay safer by using podium stepladders.

Even with the most safety-minded culture, though, some employees can still be injured through their own fault. Regardless of fault, such workers may file for workers’ compensation and be covered for medical expenses, a portion of lost wages and, if applicable, short- or long-term disability leave. They are likely to face resistance from their employer, though, so it may be wise to hire a lawyer for local representation. The lawyer may assist with the filing and with mounting an appeal should benefits be denied.