Construction work is in full swing in the summer months across Pennsylvania. While construction workers face hazards every day, one of the most consistent and severe risks is falling.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In 2017, of the 971 construction fatalities, 366 occurred from falls to a lower level. What should construction workers know about the risks of falls and what to do after an injury?
Factors that contribute to serious or fatal falls
Construction workers can lose their footing and fall from roofs, ladders, scaffolding, cranes and more. The CDC lists several contributing factors to falls on construction sites:
- Inadequate safety training to recognize and prevent hazards
- No personal fall arrest system, guardrails or other fall protection
- Working alone on elevated or unstable surfaces
- Improper use of ladders, scaffolding or more
- Working through poor weather conditions, like wind or rain
Falls from high elevations can result in serious or catastrophic injuries. Such injuries can include broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), injuries to the head, neck or spinal cord, paralysis and more.
Employers can greatly reduce the risk of falls by properly training each worker on safety protocol. OSHA states that employees working at heights of six feet or more above a lower level must have both fall protection and appropriate equipment to safely complete the job. Workers on roofs must also have the appropriate gear to use personal fall arrest systems (PFAs).
What to do after a fall
Whether due to defective equipment, poor weather or just an accident, you may suffer a fall that leads to serious injuries. Pennsylvania requires most employers to provide workers with access to workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury in the workplace that prevents them from completing their job duties.
After suffering a fall, seek immediate medical attention to attend to your injuries and evaluate the extent of the impact of the fall. Then, report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. You may then file a workers’ compensation claim, which can give you access to medical treatment, compensation for lost wages and other benefits.
Reporting your injury more than 120 days from the accident can jeopardize your ability to collect workers’ compensation. Take care to submit a detailed, timely claim to receive the benefits you deserve after a fall.