Safety is one of the most important considerations in any construction project. To be sure, construction incorporates electricity, heights, and machinery, making it one of the most dangerous industries. In fact, it has the third-highest rate of workplace fatalities.
Accidents happen quite often, even when there are supervisors on hand. Many of these accidents involve falls. Falls account for 30 percent of fatalities in the construction industry.
On the Job Fall Prevention Requirements
To prevent falls from occurring and better protect workers who do end up falling while on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed requirements that must be followed by employers. OSHA requires that fall protection be used for construction workers who are working at heights above 6 feet.
Fall protection is important so we can reduce the number of construction workers injured or killed by workplace falls. Employers may need to make adjustments as necessary to prevent employees from falling off workstations, overhead platforms or into holes in the floor.
Under OSHA guidelines, fall protection includes the following:
- Providing a toe-board and guardrail around every elevated open-sided floor, platform or runway.
- Providing guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling onto dangerous machines or equipment and getting injured, regardless of height.
- Using floor hole covers to guard every floor hole so workers cannot accidentally fall through them.
- Using other means of fall protection based on the jobs, such as safety nets, handrails, stair railings, and safety harness and lines.
Workers’ Rights on Construction Sites
Construction is inherently dangerous, but as an employee, you have the right to work in a safe environment. If you find hazards on the job site, it’s important that you bring them to the attention of your supervisor immediately. Your supervisor should take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation.
If you believe your workplace is unsafe, and your supervisor has done nothing to fix the problem, you can contact OSHA to file a complaint. When OSHA receives reports from workers, they typically visit the site and inspect the workplace. OSHA keeps your information confidential. It is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a complaint.
If a worker is injured on the job, he or she can receive workers’ compensation benefits just like anyone else who suffers a workplace injury. However, filing a lawsuit may be the better option, depending on the severity of your injury. While you generally cannot sue your employer in New York, you can sue others who may be responsible for your accident. These may include contractors, architects, manufacturers and property owners.
Employers’ Responsibilities at Construction Sites
All employers have a responsibility to do the following:
- Ensure that employees are working on job sites free of hazards.
- Keep floors as clean and dry as possible to prevent slips and falls.
- Keep personal protective equipment on hand so that workers can use it as needed, at no cost to them.
- Provide training for workers in a language they understand, even if it is not English.
Employers are required to provide fall protection for workers working at heights above 6 feet, or in any other situation where there is a risk of falling. OSHA recommends that employers provide fall protection in the forms of personal fall arrest systems, guardrail systems, and safety net systems. A positioning device system or other methods of fall protection can be used in other situations.
Employers have a duty to keep employees safe. Small businesses who are concerned about the possibility of hazards in the workplace may contact OSHA’s free On-Site Consultation program. Consultants assess the job site to determine if any hazards are present. If there are hazards, the employers then work with OSHA to correct them.
Get Legal Help from a Brooklyn Construction Accident Attorney
Construction is a dangerous industry. If you have been injured in a fall or other accident while on a construction site, seek legal help. You want to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve for damages.
Get help from The Law Office of Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum. He can determine liability and build a strong case on your behalf. Call our Brooklyn office at (718) 237-5586 and schedule a consultation.