Fall-related construction injuries: how to avoid them

Injured construction worker laying on floor after fall

Construction workers in New Jersey, as elsewhere, run a high risk for injury when on an elevated surface. Falls account for nearly one-third of all workers’ compensation claims filed in the construction industry. The accident rate is so bad that OSHA sponsors a nationwide Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction each year to raise awareness of fall-related hazards.

Employers must do their part because falls tend to result in serious injuries. Victims may injure multiple parts of their bodies, become disabled, and need to take an extended time off work. Everything can start with hosting a stand-down. During a stand-down, employees can gather and talk directly to the employer about the hazards they face. The employer can conduct a hazard assessment afterward and, in general, encourage a safety-conscious work ethic.

Getting into the specifics, employers should set up rules regarding elevated work platforms and the use of ladders. First, workers should be trained in using and inspecting mobile scaffolding and lifts. They should know when to replace or repair certain equipment. They should also be given the right protective gear on elevated surfaces, and the platforms must have guardrails.

For lifting materials to elevated surfaces, there should be a rope and pulley or block and tackle system in place. As for ladders, employers should always have employees use podium stepladders when possible, not A-frame ladders.

When injuries arise on the job, they can form the basis for a workers’ comp claim regardless of who, if anyone, was to blame. Victims should not assume that benefits will be guaranteed, though, because employers have the right to deny a claim. Mainly, for this reason, it may be wise to hire a lawyer. The lawyer may help with filing the claim and any appeals. He or she might also discuss when a worker should opt for a settlement.