Construction Workers at Considerable Risk for Falls
Nearly 40% of the 899 workplace fatalities experienced by construction workers in 2014 were the result of falls from heights. Unsafe workplace conditions and inadequate safety equipment can facilitate falls from uncompleted buildings, scaffolding, or roofs.
Inadequate fall protection is the leading cause of workplace falls. It is the most frequently cited OSHA violation on construction sites. Depending on the site, fall protection should include railings and harnesses. It is the responsibility of the general contractor, site foreman, and property owner to ensure that workers are adequately protected from falls. In Illinois, these individuals have retained control of the site and are liable for any accidents or injuries that may result from inadequate adherence to safety protocols.
Scaffolding failure is the third leading cause of workplace falls. When scaffolding fails, it can injure any workers on the scaffold and any workers who may be trapped beneath the falling structure. The following are the two most common reasons for scaffolding failure:
- Scaffolding Load Limits are Exceeded. Light duty scaffolds have a load limit of 25 lbs per square foot while heavy duty scaffolds can have a load limit of up to 75 lbs per square foot. In many cases, the frame can have a maximum load limit of up to 1,500 lbs per square foot.
- Improperly Secured. Scaffolds are not freestanding structures. They must be properly secured to the structure. Improperly securing the scaffold can cause it to collapse during high winds or because of shifting soils on the worksite.
Completing roofing structures is one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. Working on fragile, often complex roofing surfaces while operating heavy equipment is an inherently dangerous occupation.
Roofers who are not equipped with adequate footwear, safety harnesses, and other essential fall protection equipment can easily slip off the roof. The risk of a fall from height is increased when roofing workers are required to work in sub-optimal weather or during low-light conditions.
An Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can help injured workers determine the parties responsible for a fall taking place. Liability for a construction-related fall from height may be assigned to the building contractor, site foreman, or property owner. If the accident was caused by equipment failure or malfunction, liability may also be assigned to the manufacturer or distributor of the equipment.