According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fall protection is one of the most commonly overlooked safety procedures at construction sites. Because of this, falls tend to result in more serious injuries and deaths than any other type of accident for construction workers, yet these accidents are almost always avoidable.
What Kinds of Falls Are the Most Fatal?
According to research on deaths of construction employees between 2008 and 2010, 31% were due to falls from roofs. By contrast, only about 7% of non-fatal injuries were from roof falls. Fatality rates for roofers are high. More than 23% of deadly falls were from ladders, and almost 15% were due to falls from scaffolds. These are all common fall hazards encountered by a lot of construction workers, which is why safety training is necessary for everyone.
What Is Fall Protection Training?
Fall protection training is a process by which workers at a construction company or other business learn how to prevent falls and injuries from them. Fall protection training can include instructions on regulations and standards that workers are expected to uphold, as well as hands-on training with safety harnesses and other equipment. While people like roofers are expected to have this kind of training, anyone who is going to be on a scaffold or otherwise work around fall hazards also needs to be trained.
According to OSHA, the training must be done by a person who is qualified to provide instruction about fall protection, including subjects such as how to properly build, maintain, and disassemble fall protection systems. Other information provided in this training includes the limitations of protection systems so employees understand when they are not protected, and how each worker should behave around people who are near or on fall hazards. Once training is complete, workers should be presented with some form of recognition that they have finished training and the date completed, for their own records and in case of future accidents.
Whose Responsibility Is Fall Protection?
Fall protection training is the responsibility of everyone involved with construction in New York, including:
- Workers: Individual workers are responsible for ensuring they pay attention to their training. After training is complete, workers need to make sure they follow the training and act responsibly on a worksite. Beyond this, workers also need to watch for potential fall hazards or unsafe behavior, and report those things promptly to supervisors who can make sure unsafe conditions are fixed.
- Supervisors: The supervisors at a construction company are responsible for making sure each employee is given the proper training for fall prevention. They should be aware of any safety issues that arise and ensure standards are being met and equipment is properly inspected. Reports of safety issues must be taken seriously and responded to promptly.
- Company: A company that runs a construction worksite is ultimately responsible for making sure the people working for it are given proper training and uphold that training. The company needs to provide training materials for supervisors to use and the actual safety equipment needed on site. The company needs to allocate money to replace equipment and tools as needed to keep the worksite safe, and respond promptly if violations are reported.
While larger companies might seem more “at risk” for fatal accidents since they have more employees, smaller construction companies are actually more likely to have safety violations and serious accidents.
Between 2008 and 2010, there were 521 reported deaths of wage-and-salary workers from falls in the construction industry. Of those, more than 54% involved companies with 10 or fewer employees. Meanwhile, companies with 100 or more employees accounted for only 12.5% of fatalities from falls. Small companies might not want to invest the resources in proper fall protection, but their workers are in no less danger from falls than larger companies.
Fall Protection Training Is Only Necessary Once, Right?
No. Fall protection training is necessary whenever workers need a refresher course, either due to employee request or after an accident. While fall protection training for new employees is essential, it is also important to make sure ongoing training is provided. Experienced workers might protest because they feel they already know the subject, but such training can truly be the difference between life and death.
If you were injured in a fall at work, know that our New York construction accident lawyers are here to help. We’ve handled hundreds of high-stakes construction cases and have the experience to research your situation and fight to get you any compensation you may deserve. For a free consultation, please call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353.