The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data lists falls as the leading cause of death for workers in the construction industry, accounting for 337 of the 874 fatalities recorded in 2014. Additionally, falls can also cause serious bodily injury, such as paralysis. For that reason, emergency medical responders have long treated all falls from a height greater than 20 feet as potentially life threatening, while falls from a height of six to 10 feet reach the threshold for traumatic brain injury. Regardless of the circumstances, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classifies all the aforementioned work-related fall deaths as preventable, meaning that if better workplace safety protocols had been in place, those falls would not have happened.
Furthermore, while the Center for Construction Research and Training notes that the rate of nonfatal fall injuries in construction was 50% higher than all other industries combined, falls remain a significant hazard in every industry from manufacturing to retail. The top five industries for fall-related injuries are as follows:
- Construction (36.2 falls per 10,000 workers)
- Education and health services (31.4 falls per 10,000 workers)
- Natural resources and mining (28.6 falls per 10,000 workers)
- Trade, transportation and utilities (27.9 falls per 10,000 workers)
- Leisure and hospitality (27.0 falls per 10,000 workers)
As previously mentioned, many falls are caused by poor workplace safety standards. OSHA lists fall safety as amongst the top ten most frequently cited violations of workplace safety standards, while other citations in the top ten are also linked to falls, such as poor ladder safety and poor scaffolding safety.
Regardless of the industry, employers have a duty to make the workplace safe for their employees, including eliminating the hazards that lead to falls. Circumstances that often lead to falls or increased fall injury include:
- Slippery walking or working surfaces.
- Structurally unstable or improperly maintained walking or working surfaces.
- Cluttered walking or working surfaces and failure to eliminate tripping hazards.
- Unprotected edges or openings in the floor or in walls.
- Lack or misuse of guardrails.
- Unsafely positioned ladders or scaffolding.
- Improper usage of furniture or other items to create ad hoc ladders or working surfaces
- Failure to use or misuse of fall protection devices, such as safety nets or fall restraint systems.
- Failure to have a fall protection plan.
- Failure to provide fall protection training.
For those workers who have already suffered an injury or permanent loss caused by a fall at work, compensation may be available under New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law. Benefits can include medical treatment and monetary payments for permanent damages and lost wages.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Shebell & Shebell Get Results for People Injured on the Job
If you or someone you love has been injured at the work place, you may be entitled to compensation or other related benefits. The experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Shebell & Shebell can help. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County, including Howell, Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Wall, Union Beach and Neptune. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.