The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2020 the construction industry accounted for more than 45% of all fatal falls, slips and trips – with nearly all involving falls to a lower level of the construction site. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, identified falling as the top of its “Fatal Four” common causes of construction site injuries and deaths.
Falls can be caused by everything from uneven or slippery walking and work surfaces to unmarked building edges. A construction site fall can have a severely negative impact on your quality of life by resulting in paralysis or death. If you or someone you know has been injured from a construction site fall – or if someone you know has died from a construction site fall – an experienced construction accident attorney can help you evaluate your legal options for recovering damages from your employer and others responsible.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about falls on construction sites and information about what you can do if you or someone you know has sustained injury due to a construction site fall.
What are the fall hazards on construction sites?
According to OSHA, “A fall hazard is anything at a worksite that causes you to lose your balance or bodily support.” Anything from uneven or slippery walking and work surfaces and loose electrical cords to improperly erected scaffolding and unmarked building edges can cause a fall. Specifically, OSHA notes the following as major types of hazards:
- Unprotected roof edges, roof and floor openings, structural steel and leading edges
- Improper scaffold construction
- Unsafe portable ladders
What types of injuries can result from a construction site fall?
If you are working four feet or higher above the nearest standing surface, OSHA notes you are at risk for a fall. Depending on the type of site and the height of the fall, injuries can include:
- Fractures and sprains
- Traumatic brain and head injuries
- Crushing injuries to the spine
- Partial or full paralysis
When is fall protection required in the construction industry?
In the construction industry, OSHA generally requires fall protection to be provided starting at six feet above a lower level. If you’re working near or over dangerous equipment (i.e., machinery with open drive belts), the requirement applies to heights below six feet. In addition, the construction company should use the following to prevent falls:
- Guardrail systems
- Safety net systems
- Personal fall arrest systems
- Positioning device systems
- Warning line systems
- Controlled access zones
- Safety monitoring systems
How can falls on construction sites be prevented?
Staying alert, being aware of your surroundings, adhering to the site’s safety policies and procedures and using required safety equipment are the best ways to prevent falls on construction sites.
What should I do if I don’t feel safe on the construction site where I work?
If you believe your work conditions are unsafe, you have the right to contact OSHA and file a confidential complaint and request a site inspection. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a report with OSHA, including firing, demoting, transferring or otherwise taking it out on you for exercising your right to a safe workplace.
What are the most important steps to take after sustaining a construction site injury?
Regardless of whether your construction fall injury is minor or severe, get medical attention immediately. Afterward, it is important you take the following steps:
- Write a detailed description of how you were injured, including what happened before and after you were injured
- Tell your employer about your injury
- Ask for additional information to fully document your case, including your full medical records related to the construction injury, any input from other witnesses and photos of the site and any resulting damage
- Keep all documents sent to/from your employer and others involved in the case
- Talk with an experienced construction accident attorney to discuss the details of your case and possible recoverable damages
Who is liable for injuries sustained in a construction site fall?
Construction sites involve multiple parties. Your direct employer’s liability is covered by its workers’ compensation policy, which it is required to carry. You may not sue your employer directly, except in a few unique circumstances; however, other parties – everyone from the site’s landowner to equipment manufacturers – may be liable for your injuries. An experienced construction accident attorney can review your case to determine whether others might be at fault for your injuries.
How can PCVA help if you have been injured in a fall at a construction site?
PCVA’s experienced attorneys can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation and damages from your employer, landowners, equipment manufacturers and others who may be responsible for your construction fall. If you would like to speak with a PCVA lawyer, complete our online form or call us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850. All conversations are completely confidential.
How much do you charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.