Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Workers who fall from heights can suffer serious, sometimes fatal injuries. Falls have remained one of the “fatal four” most common causes of construction worker deaths, along with being struck by an object, electrocutions and being caught in/between objects.
Injuries Caused by Falls from Heights
According to OSHA, those who work at elevations of six feet or higher are at risk of death if they fall. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study found that falls accounted for 14 percent of all worker fatalities over an 11-year period. When falls do not prove fatal, workers may suffer serious injuries including:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Head and neck injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding/organ damage
OSHA requires employers to ensure that their workplaces are free from known dangers and to provide fall protection for workers in certain industries who are working at certain elevations. For example, employers must provide fall protection at elevations of four feet for general industry workers, five feet for shipyard workers, six feet for construction workers and eight feet for longshoremen.
Types of fall protection vary according to industry, but typically includes guardrails, toe-boards, safety nets, safety harnesses, hand rails, fall arrest systems and covers for floor holes. Employees should also take safety precautions when using portable ladders and when working on scaffolding; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 60 deaths and 4,500 injuries per year are attributable to scaffolding accidents.
Preventing Falls from Heights
OSHA has partnered with NIOSH and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) on the Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness and encourage employers to prevent falls at work. Employers are required to comply with various OSHA standards including:
- Developing and implementing a fall protection program
- Providing training
- Educating workers about fall hazards
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Falls from Heights
Workers who are injured when they fall from heights may be entitled to workers’ compensation under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation benefits include payments for reasonable and necessary medical expenses and payments to help compensate for lost wages. Other types of workers’ compensation benefits include:
Permanent disability– Injured workers who can perform light duty work may receive permanent partial disability.
Temporary disability– Injured workers who are unable to work at all may receive permanent total disability.
Vocational rehabilitation– Injured workers may also receive vocational rehabilitation benefits to help them reenter the workforce.
Specific loss– Workers who suffered severe injuries such an amputation or disfigurement may be entitled to specific loss lump sum benefits.
Death benefits– Families of workers who die as a result of their workplace injury may collect death benefits, including up to $3,000 in funeral expenses.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Injured in Falls from Heights
If you or your loved one was injured in a fall from heights at work, contact a skilled Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. to arrange a free consultation. Call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.
We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.