Workers’ Compensation for Injuries Caused by Falls in the Workplace

November 6, 2015

Construction workers and those employed in other industries are often exposed to dangerous hazards at work. There are safety regulations enacted to protect those who work in dangerous occupations from injury and death in the workplace. Falls are one of the most common workplace injuries in the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor is the agency whose task it is to publish and enforce the safety regulations that are meant to protect employees from unnecessary hazards in their workplace. OSHA also keeps statistics that track every reported workplace injury and OSHA standards violations.

For the year 2014, OSHA reported that there were 4,251 reported worker fatalities in private industry with 874 or 20.5 percent of those fatalities were in the construction industry. They also determined that there were four accidents–the so-called, “fatal four,” types of accidents that were responsible for the greatest percentage (58.1 percent) of worker deaths and injuries. Those fatal four accidents include the following:

  • Falls — 349 out of 874 total deaths in construction in CY 2014 (39.9%)
  • Electrocutions — 74 (8.5%)
  • Struck by Object — 73 (8.4%)
  • Caught-in/between — 12 (1.4%)

As it turns out, of the ten most frequent citations issued for violations to OSHA standards, fall protection in the construction industry was the number one most cited violation of OSHA standards. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that if the fatal four accidents were eliminated, it would save about 508 workers lives in the U.S. each year.  In their Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, the BLS reported that falls, slips and trips increased by 10 percent to 793 in 2014 from 724 in 2013. There was also an increase in falls to a lower level to 647 in 2014 from 595 in 2013.

Employers owe a duty of care to provide their employees with a safe work environment. To the extent that the work they do is inherently dangerous or hazardous, they have a duty to provide safety training and equipment and to follow the prevailing OSHA guidelines such as providing fall protections, guard rails, safety harnesses and the like to keep their employees as safe as possible. Even when they are exposed to hazards in the work place and then suffer an injury, workers are generally not allowed to sue their employers, which is why every state has a no-fault workers’ compensation system.

If a worker falls at work and gets an injury that is serious enough to require medical attention, the workers’ compensation system, which is governed by the state, pays for the worker’s medical expenses related to the workplace injury, and it will pay a portion of the wages that they lose while they are recovering from their injury.

Sometimes, however, in an effort to protect their own interests, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will deny a worker’s claim, or they might insist that the worker go back to work before they have reached full recovery. In any such dispute with the workers’ compensation system, an experienced attorney from the Philadelphia law firm of Larry Pitt & Associates can be a strong advocate for those who feel that their rights are being violated. Please contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our offices serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.

If you have sustained a workplace injury from a fall, you are welcome to contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates. We fight for your rights to the compensation you deserve. We have several offices serving clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.