The Risks and Consequences of Falls on Construction Sites

The Risks and Consequences of Falls on Construction SitesConstruction sites are dynamic environments where workers face numerous hazards, and one of the most significant risks they encounter is falls. Falls can occur from heights, such as scaffolds, ladders, roofs, or even ground-level slips. These incidents can lead to severe injuries and, in some cases, fatalities. It is crucial to understand the risks associated with falls on construction sites and implement effective preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of workers. This article explores the various factors contributing to falls, their potential effects, and strategies to mitigate these risks.

Common causes of falls on construction sites:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “in 2021, nearly 1 in 5 workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. Just over one-third of construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips. Of these, almost all were from falls to a lower level. The construction industry accounted for 46.2 percent of all fatal falls, slips, and trips in 2021.”

As construction sites are dangerous places, there are many possible causes of falls. These include:

  • Unprotected edges and openings. Openings in floors, walls, or roofs without proper guardrails or covers pose a significant fall risk.
  • Unstable surfaces. Uneven or slippery surfaces, debris, or poor housekeeping can lead to slips and falls.
  • Misuse of equipment. Incorrect use or lack of maintenance of ladders, scaffolds, and other equipment can result in falls.
  • Inadequate fall protection. Failure to use or insufficient use of safety harnesses, guardrails, or safety nets leaves workers vulnerable to falls.
  • Poor training and supervision. Insufficient knowledge or improper training on fall prevention measures, as well as lack of supervision, contribute to increased fall risks.

Falling accidents on construction sites are nearly inevitable due to the presence of various hazards. However, it is the responsibility of contractors, safety managers, and employers to prioritize the education of their workers in fall prevention safety training. Unfortunately, all too often, workers are deprived of the necessary knowledge and equipment required to carry out their jobs safely. As a result, they become victims of someone else’s negligence, paying the price for these lapses in safety measures. There can be no excuses for failing to provide adequate training and resources to ensure the well-being of workers on construction sites.

Potential effects of falls on construction workers in San Antonio

Not only are those who are injured from falls at construction sites likely to suffer physical injuries, but they may also end up suffering financially and socially as well, depending on the severity of the injury. Effects of falls at construction sites include:

  • Physical injuries. Falls can result in various injuries, ranging from minor bruises and sprains to fractures, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, and even fatalities. The severity of injuries depends on the height of the fall and the landing surface.
  • Long-term health consequences. Even non-fatal falls can have long-lasting effects on workers’ physical and mental health. Chronic pain, disabilities, psychological distress, and reduced quality of life are among the potential consequences.
  • Financial burdens. Fall-related injuries can lead to substantial medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and potential legal liabilities for employers. Workers may face financial hardships due to medical bills and the inability to work.
  • Impact on families. Fall injuries can significantly impact not only the injured workers but also their families. Emotional distress, caregiving responsibilities, and financial strain can affect the overall well-being of the worker’s loved ones.

Often, healing from an injury is more than just a physical goal, but a life challenge. It is important to understand that you deserve the time and finances to be able to not only heal, but to ensure that your life is not thrown into disarray over one work injury.

OSHA regulations concerning fall protection

To prioritize worker safety at elevated positions, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has established a comprehensive set of safety standards that employers must adhere to in the construction industry. These requirements encompass various aspects, including:

  • General protection requirements. Employers are mandated to provide fall protection systems and ensure the structural integrity of walking and working surfaces before employees engage in work on those surfaces. Fall protection systems must be provided when employees are working at heights greater than six feet above another surface.
  • Unprotected sides and leading edges. Whenever there are unprotected sides or leading edges with a drop of six feet or more, OSHA requires the implementation of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. In addition, toeboards should be installed around unprotected edges to enhance safety.
  • Hoist areas. Employees working in hoist areas must be safeguarded against falls of six feet or more using guardrails or personal fall arrest systems.
  • To prevent falls through holes or skylights located six feet or more above lower levels, covers, guardrail systems, or personal fall arrest systems must be utilized.
  • If an excavation site is not obviously identifiable and has a depth of six feet or more, employees positioned at the site’s edge should be protected by a fence, barricade, or guardrail system.
  • Dangerous equipment. To prevent employees from falling onto dangerous equipment located less than six feet below, guardrail systems or equipment guards must be installed. Additionally, when employees are working six feet or higher above such equipment, guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems are required. Toeboards should also be installed in these areas for added safety.

Adhering to these OSHA fall protection requirements is vital for ensuring the safety of workers engaged in construction activities at elevated positions. Employers must prioritize the implementation of appropriate safety measures to prevent falls and protect their employees from potential hazards. Compliance with these regulations contributes to a safer work environment and reduces the risk of fall-related accidents and injuries.

If I fall at work, can I sue my employer?

In most cases of work injuries, the injured party will be entitled to compensation as per the workers’ compensation laws of their state. But as this is Texas, there is a good chance that your employer does not have this insurance.

As such, it may be necessary to file a workplace injury lawsuit to secure the rightful compensation they deserve. In cases where an employer’s gross negligence leads to the death of a worker, it may also be possible to bring a lawsuit against the employer. Consulting with a San Antonio personal injury attorney who specializes in construction accidents and workplace injuries can provide guidance and assistance in navigating the legal options available. They can evaluate the specific circumstances of your case, provide guidance on the applicable laws in your jurisdiction, and help determine the best course of action.

If you have suffered catastrophic injuries from falling at your job at a construction site and workers’ compensation is not an option, it is crucial to reach out to the Law Offices of Pat Maloney as soon as possible. Our experienced San Antonio injury attorney is here to assist you in pursuing the rightful compensation you deserve for your injuries, losses, and pain and suffering. Whether you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site, calling our offices or completing our contact form will grant you a free consultation and a confidential evaluation of your case. Take the first step towards seeking the justice and compensation you are entitled to.