Falls a major cause of construction worker deaths

Construction workers in Pennsylvania may want to know about a new searchable database called the Construction FACE (Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation) Database. It aggregates all 768 FACE reports made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health since 1982.

Researchers from the Center for Construction Research and Training used the database to determine the most common cause of construction worker deaths between 1982 and 2015. It concluded that 42 percent were caused by falls. This percentage accounted for 325 workers. Out of the workers who were killed, 54 percent of them didn’t have access to a personal fall arrest system, and 23 percent did but neglected to use it. Furthermore, those workers who did not have a PFAS were largely working for building, siding, roofing and sheet metal contractors.

Out of the 325 workers who died from falls, 107 of them fell from a height of 30 feet or higher. According to researchers, the frequency of workers dying after falling from lower heights is strong evidence that OSHA should revise its guidelines. They propose making it a requirement to have fall protection at elevations of 6 feet or more in the construction industry.

Inexperience also appeared to be a factor. Out of all the 768 fatalities, 20 percent of the individuals had been working at their job for less than two months. In conclusion, researchers stated that the Construction FACE Database could provide valuable information on injury prevention.

Workers who fall and injure themselves may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If they die, their spouses, children and other dependents can receive death benefits through the same workers’ compensation program. In either case, it’s important to have a lawyer estimating a fair settlement and negotiating for it with the other party. However, if there is clear proof that the employer was negligent, such as by not providing a PFAS, an attorney may advise a victim to sue instead.