Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To help prevent them, OSHA engages in regular information campaigns about fall safety. It also inspects workplaces and issues citations for fall hazards and other workplace safety violations.
Unfortunately, a 50-year-old journeyman electrician fell to his death at the Caterpillar company’s Maplewood foundry. The accident occurred in December 2021, and OSHA has recently announced the findings in its investigation.
According to OSHA, two contractors were on site at the Caterpillar foundry on Dec. 23. They were there to evaluate the area in order to submit a bid for moving an electrical junction box as part of a project to install a skip hoist.
The journeyman electrician and a general foreman for Illinois Crane were evaluating conditions when the electrician fell through a hole in the floor. He fell 24 feet to his death.
OSHA says that companies must provide adequate floor hole covers or guardrails whenever there is a risk of falling more than 6 feet through a hole. They must also ensure that workers wear personal fall arrest systems. OSHA cited Illinois Crane for a willful violation of these rules and proposed penalties of $87,016.
OSHA added that another contractor on the site, Schaefer Electric, could have prevented the tragedy if it had inspected the job site and evaluated it for hazards before sending workers. It should also have trained its workers to recognize fall hazards and take appropriate safety precautions. OSHA called these failures a serious violation of workplace safety rules and proposed $10,151 in penalties.
The tragedy is that falls from over 6 feet are so often deadly, but employers often fail to take appropriate steps to prevent them. In 2020, 24 Illinois workers died as the result of falls, including slips and trips. That’s nearly 18% of all worker deaths in Illinois in 2020.
If you’re injured in a fall, you don’t have to prove your employer did anything wrong
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. If you are injured on the job, you’re generally covered by workers’ comp, even if your employer was not negligent. You can even be partly responsible for the accident, and you are still generally eligible for workers’ comp.
You don’t have to prove your employer committed any workplace safety violations. That’s OSHA’s job. You need to focus on recovering from your injuries, and workers’ comp is there to help you do that.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal.