Fatal Construction Site Fall Shows Workplace Dangers

On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

On January 24, 2013 a construction worker working on an apartment building in Queens, New York fell through a hole in the floor and hit his head on a steel girder. Medical rescue personnel rushed the man to the hospital, but he died of his injuries. Police reported that this was the second construction site fall resulting in serious injuries within a two-day time span. These accidents demonstrate the dangers that construction workers face from falls and the importance of having fall-prevention plans in place at construction sites.

Construction site fall dangers

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, falls are the primary cause of death in construction. OSHA reports that falls account for about one in three construction fatalities. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that approximately 10,000 workers suffered injuries as a result of falling in 2010 alone. In 2010, the BLS recorded 264 fall fatalities of the 774 construction worker fatalities for the year.

Fall prevention campaign

Due to the serious threat that falls pose to construction workers, OSHA launched a fall prevention campaign on April 26, 2012. The campaign emphasizes that construction workers and contractors can reduce falls through three main steps:

  • Plan: Employers need to plan their jobs with safety in mind. If the job requires workers to be performing their duties on roofs, ladders or scaffolding, employers need to make sure that they budget for the necessary safety equipment for the workers.
  • Provide: Providing the proper safety equipment is crucial to preventing construction site falls. Employers should consider supplying personal fall arrest safety systems with sufficient harnesses for each worker on the job, proper ladders, guardrails, covers for holes and skylights and other fall prevention equipment.
  • Train: Once an employer has obtained safety equipment for workers at a job site, the employer also should train all of the workers at a site to use the equipment properly.

Construction workers can also follow some simple guidelines to prevent on-the-job falls, including:

  • Using caution when working near skylights
  • Wearing properly-fitting harnesses and connecting to the fall arrest system
  • Using provided guardrails
  • Selecting the proper ladders for jobs
  • Securing ladders before climbing on them
  • Guarding or covering all holes or openings
  • Inspecting equipment and not using any that is defective
  • Pluming and leveling scaffolding

Talk to a lawyer

Construction workers face dangers every day while working. Employers have a duty to provide safe work environments for employees, but not all employers meet their responsibilities. When employers do not provide the safety equipment and training their workers need to stay safe while on the job, workers are at risk. If you have been injured while working, speak with a seasoned workers' compensation attorney who can help you obtain the benefits you need to aid in your recovery and get back to work.