Fall prevention starts with proper equipment and training

North Carolina employers whose workers perform duties 6 feet or more above ground level need to take appropriate steps to limit serious injuries or death. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends three steps for creating a safer work environment and preventing falls from high places.

Planning begins the safety evaluation. A contractor should review the job site for hazards and choose appropriate safety gear for workers. Then, the workers need the proper ladders, scaffolds and fall-arrest harnesses provided to them by the employer. Training in the correct ways to use the safety gear is also essential.

Among construction workers, falls represent the leading cause of accidental on-the-job deaths. In 2014, OSHA reported that 40 percent of fatalities in the construction trades resulted from falls. Fines imposed after an inspection or accident can be hefty. One case in which a man fell while preparing a third-story balcony wall for stucco prompted OSHA to threaten the employer with fines of over $400,000. No scaffold had been installed, and the man did not have a safety harness. Safety inspectors labelled numerous violations as egregiously willful and serious.

A person injured on the job could expect to receive benefits from the workers' compensation insurance paid for by the employer. Collecting the benefits eliminates a person's right to sue the employer for negligence. A person might wish to discuss an accident with an attorney prior to filing for benefits to get a legal opinion about which path to pursue. An attorney could prepare a workers' compensation claim for the person. The reporting requirements are strict, and an attorney could help a person navigate the insurance bureaucracy. If strong evidence of negligence suggests a lawsuit, then an attorney might support the person's choice to sue the employer for damages.

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