According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), falls are the top cause of construction worker deaths. Nationally, 400 construction employees died from falls at work plus many others sustained severe injuries.
The DOL suggests that if an employee must perform work duties at least six feet off the ground or more, they should utilize these three fall protection measures:
- Plan for safety.
- Use the correct equipment.
- Train the workforce on how to safely, properly use the equipment.
In early May 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), part of the DOL, held its annual National Safety Stand-Down in which it partnered with other agencies to promote these safety measures and others. A main goal of the Stand-Down was to encourage construction employers to take the time to discuss fall prevention with its workers.
OSHA is the primary federal agency responsible for enacting safety regulations and standards in particular workplaces, including construction sites and specifically in fall prevention.
In conjunction with the event, OSHA provides many helpful resources on this topic for employers and employees alike. Highlights from some of the resources available by link from this page:
- Always wear a harness that fits.
- Inspect fall protection equipment every time.
- Institute the use of lifelines and guardrails.
- Cover or block access to skylights, holes and other openings through which someone could fall.
- The employer must assess that working surfaces are strong enough and correctly supported to support workers.
- The employer must assess whether fall protection is required and provide the proper equipment per regulations.
- And others
This introduces a complex topic that we will revisit in the future. Anyone in Illinois harmed from a fall while at work should apply for workers’ compensation and discuss that and a potential claim for SSDI for more serious injuries with a lawyer.