Of all the hazards employees face every day on the job, one regularly appears near the top of the list: falls. From defective ladders to uneven surfaces, dangerous work conditions can result in serious falls. In 2020, 805 employees in the United States died in slips, trips, and falls and 211,640 were hurt badly enough to need days off of work.
Falls are an even bigger danger in certain jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for over a third (38%) of all fatalities from 2015 to 2019. In a typical year, around 300-400 construction workers fall to their deaths.
Frequently Cited OSHA Violations
Falls are not only a leading cause of workplace fatalities, but they are also one of the most frequently cited violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) workplace safety standards. This suggests that many of the measures that could prevent dangerous falls are not being used or are being used incorrectly.
For 12 years in a row, “Fall Protection – General Requirements” has topped the list of OSHA citations. Fall hazards also played a role in three of the other most frequently cited OSHA standards in 2022, including “Ladders” (#4), “Scaffolding” (#5), and “Fall Protection – Training Requirements” (#8). Scaffolds may not have proper guardrails, workers may not have proper ladder training, or safety nets may not be installed.
Injuries from Falls to Lower Levels
Although employees can and do get hurt during falls on the same level, the most serious injuries often come from falls to a lower level. Of the total number of fatal workplace slips, trips, and falls in 2021, 80% were caused by falls to a lower level.
Falls at work can result in anything from a small bruise to a traumatic brain injury. But falls from elevation typically require more time off work than other falls. While falls on the same level require a median of 12 days away, falls to a lower level require a median of 20. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the following injuries are the most common from falls to a lower level:
- Fractures (28%)
- Sprains, strains, or tears (22%)
- Soreness or pain (20%)
- Bruises or contusions (10%)
- All other (8%)
Falls to a lower level can happen at any job, but construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from height. In fact, they have more than seven times the rate of workers in other industries. Most deadly fall injuries happen to roofing and finishing contractors in residential construction.
Massachusetts Work Injury Lawyers
If you have suffered a fall at work, it’s important to document the incident as thoroughly as possible. Take pictures of the area where the fall occurred and any injuries you may have sustained. Seek medical attention immediately and be sure to keep records of all medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work.
A qualified work injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options after a workplace accident. At Altman & Altman LLP, we understand the pain and stress work injuries can cause and are committed to helping you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation with an experienced Boston work injury lawyer.