Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt & Smith

Falls need not claim the lives of construction workers

Office buildings, retail stores, factories, warehouses and other work environments in Pennsylvania pose safety risks, but construction sites are significantly more dangerous than other workplaces. Construction company owners and site managers must comply with federal and state safety regulations to protect the safety and health of you and your co-workers. Sadly, some of the deadliest hazards, like falls, often receive little consideration because the employer's desire to work faster and maximize the profits may overshadow the danger.

Although falls on same levels can cause serious injuries, if your job has you working at elevated areas, you will require specialized personal protective equipment. Along with construction workers, other occupations that have employees working at heights include roof workers, painters, installers of solar panels, window cleaners, firefighters and more.

Same level fall risks

Some fall injuries are not preventable by wearing personal protective equipment. The following factors could lead to accidental falls caused by negligent housekeeping:

  • Wet floors: Spillages and leaks left unattended pose slip-and-fall hazards.
  • Floor coverings: Unsuitable, damaged, frayed or unsecured rugs or mats can lead to slips and trips.
  • Poor lighting: Areas like hallways and stairwells must have sufficient light.
  • Uneven surfaces: Left unaddressed, these areas pose trip hazards.
  • Electrical extension cords: These must never be left to snake across walkways.
  • Level changes: Floor paint or other warnings must indicate changes of levels on any walkway.
  • Ill-maintained areas: Cracks, potholes and other damage indicate poor maintenance and a lack of inspections to identify safety hazards.

Protection systems for elevated falls

Your employer might know that safe workers improve productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line. For that reason, he or she might invest in fall protection systems that could include the following:

  • Warning lines: These can indicate proximity to dangerous edges and warn you of fall risks.
  • Guardrails: Installing sturdy rails on the sides of roofs and other high areas can prevent falls over the edges.
  • Restraint devices: Rather than warning workers of dangerous edges, these devices prevent them from going there.
  • Safety nets: These are dual-purpose safety devices that can not only catch you if you fall from an elevated level but also catch dropped tools or other objects that could injure those on lower levels.
  • Fall arrest harnesses: You should never work on an elevated level without a body harness that will arrest a fall before you strike the ground or a lower level.

Safety measures to prevent falls have saved the lives of many construction workers, but in many cases, injuries occur even if lives are saved. Your head could strike a wall on your way down, or the harness can cause an injury as it arrests your fall. This might lead to medical expenses, and if your injury causes temporary disability, you may lose wages, which might cause additional stress. Fortunately, legal resources are available to help with the filing of benefits claims with the Pennsylvania workers' compensation insurance program.

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Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt & Smith

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