In 2019, one out of every five workplace deaths was the result of a construction worker falling. In the last year alone, eight of Utah’s construction workers fell to their deaths, and many more were severely injured as the result of a fall. Data from 2019 suggests that, nationwide, nearly 80,000 construction workers were seriously injured as a result of falling. With commercial and residential real estate booming, we have more construction workers this summer than ever—a 25% increase since 2011.
AN INDUSTRY-WIDE EPIDEMIC:
The CDC names falls as the number one cause of fatalities in the construction industry. It is estimated that falls account for a dizzying 36.4% of the construction industry’s work-place deaths. Construction firms with fewer than 20 employees account for over 75% of fatal falls, and 91% of all construction firms employ fewer than 20 people. Unfortunately, these numbers give us a rather bleak outlook: falling at construction sites is becoming increasingly common. This spring a man in Logan tragically fell to his death while working at a construction site.
YOUR EMPLOYER’S ROLE IN KEEPING YOU SAFE:
Employers have a crucial role to play in protecting their employees from falls. OSHA’s most commonly cited standard—across all industries—was Fall Protection in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.501). According to OSHA, the following is required of employers in order to prevent falls:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas in a clean and—so far as possible— dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
OSHA also requires employers to provide certain safety equipment and take specific precautions in order to protect workers from falls. Under OSHA’s guidelines, employers are required to guard all floor holes. Employers must also provide guardrails and toe-boards around elevated open-sided platforms, floors, or runways. Additionally, employers may be required to provide supplementary safety equipment such as harnesses and nets, depending on the nature of the job.
A VULNERABLE POPULATION:
Independent contractors and temporary workers are statistically more vulnerable to work-related injuries. According to the National Safety Council, temporary employees accounted for nearly 20% of work-place fatalities in 2017. And, seasonal employees and independent contractors are up to 72% more likely to be injured at work.
FILING A WORKER’S COMP CLAIM:
Filing a worker’s compensation claim is often seen as a fast and hassle-free option when employees are injured on the job. Unfortunately, many independent contractors and subcontractors find that they are not eligible to file a worker’s compensation claim in their state. Further complicating the issue, it isn’t unheard of for employers to intentionally misclassify their employees when signing up for Worker’s Compensation Insurance. This is typically done in order to save money on premiums. However, it almost always ends up costing the employees.
WHEN WORKER’S COMPENSATION ISN’T AN OPTION:
The cost of work-place injuries can be exorbitant: the expense of medical care and time off work can be overwhelming—and there is often no compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured. If you have been injured after your employer has failed to provide a safe work environment, we can help. Our attorneys can help you get the compensation you need in order to get back on your feet.