After working in the construction industry for any length of time, you probably find yourself working from heights fairly often. Under Pennsylvania and federal laws, it is a requirement that your employer make sure that you can work at the required heights safely.
You may already be aware of the fact that the number one cause of death for construction workers is falls. In 2016 alone, 991 construction workers lost their lives in accidents. Of that number, 370 were due to falls from a height. In an attempt to reduce those numbers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration started a fall prevention campaign to remind everyone how to stay safe.
It takes more than just telling you to watch where you step to keep you safe from a fall. OSHA recommends employers and employees take the following steps in order to maximize the potential for safety on a job where there is a requirement to work at a height:
- Every job is different, and some planning is necessary in order to keep you and your co-workers safe. This means identifying potential hazards and providing the right safety equipment for the job.
- Falling from a height of six feet or more often leads to serious injury or death. If a job will require workers to be six feet or more off the ground, the right equipment is vital.
- Fall protection gear, ladders, scaffolds and other safety gear should tailor to each job. This often includes the use of personal fall arrest systems.
- All of the safety equipment in the world means nothing unless those who will use it undergo training to ensure its proper use. In addition, every employee needs to understand the hazards he or she faces on each job site.
Obviously, the risk of falls increases when employers fail to adhere to these requirements. The problem is that most employers do follow these recommendations, but people still fall from heights.
Recovering from falls
The odds are that if you fell from a height of six feet or more, you suffered serious injuries. You could be out of work for some time, if not indefinitely. During your recovery, your medical bills will rise and your income will drop. In order to provide some balance to this situation, you may apply for workers' compensation benefits to cover your medical and medical-related costs associated with your injuries and a portion of the income you won't receive while you recuperate.
The hope is that you will recover 100 percent, or as close thereto as possible. However, depending on your injuries, you may never be able to perform the same job duties in the future. You may be able to pursue additional benefits such as vocational rehabilitation and permanent disability.
Another alternative that you may have is to file a claim against a third party, if appropriate. If a piece of safety equipment failed, or you suffered a fall due to a hazard the building owner neglected to disclose, you may have other avenues for compensation.