Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Protecting workers from falls on construction sites

It is well known that iron workers in particular, and construction workers in general, have very hazardous jobs. Each year, falls consistently rank among the top sources for injuries and fatalities on construction sites in Maryland and around the country. Meanwhile, fall protection violations are the top source of citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration each year. However, employers can greatly reduce these risks by carefully following the agency's fall protection guidelines.

OSHA requires that employers protect all employees working or walking more than 15 feet above a lower level. To protect workers from falls, employers must provide guardrails, fall restraints, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems or positioning devices.

According to the agency, the easiest way to prevent falls is learning to identify fall hazards on sight. Employers are encouraged to carefully observe construction sites for obvious hazards and work to correct them. For instance, if one method of completing a task looks dangerous, another method should be explored. If no other method is available for completing a task, a worker must be provided fall safety protection. Employers who fail to protect workers could be sued for manslaughter or willful intent in the event of an employee's death.

It is also critical that all regulations, policies and instructions are followed on work sites. To that end, all manufacturer's instructions for work equipment must be strictly adhered to, and all internal company policies must be followed, whether they meet rf exceed OSHA minimum standards. It should be noted that all voluntary ANSI "best practices" guidelines become mandatory once adopted by OSHA.

Most Maryland employees who suffer workplace injuries are covered by their employer's worker's compensation insurance. Some injured workers find it helpful to work with an attorney when preparing their benefits claim.

Source: OH&S Online, "Fall Protection for Iron Workers," Marty Sharp, July 1, 2015

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