According to the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the main cause of death in the construction industry. They also happen to be the leading cause of serious injury.
But almost every fall can be prevented.
4 Steps To Prevent Construction Falls
New York State might offer construction workers unique legal protections after a fall (we’ll cover that later), but that doesn’t mean you should drop your guard.
Here are our steps to preventing falls on the job:
1. Notice Fall Hazards
The first step in preventing worksite accidents is knowing how to identify dangerous conditions.
On roofs, hazards usually include holes and skylights. But the dangers might not always be so obvious. In many cases, all it takes is one loose shingle for a worker to go sliding off to the ground below.
Overhead power lines are a primary concern. Before you set up a ladder, know where the lines are and make sure you don’t accidentally touch one with your equipment. If you can’t avoid power lines, select a ladder made from wood, not metal.
Sometimes, the real fall hazard is your equipment itself. Make sure you inspect every ladder before setting it up. If it’s broken, or unfit for use in some other way, set it aside and tag it for repairs.
2. Get The Right Protection
OSHA has a hard rule: any worker raised six or more feet above the ground needs to be protected. Why? Above six feet, danger increases tremendously. Workers at heights are at a greater risk of suffering serious injury, even death, in the case of a fall.
“Protection” in this instance can take many forms. Roofers usually use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), which consist of a lifeline and body harness. Securely fastened to the lifeline, a worker will be “caught” in the event that he goes over the edge.
Up high on scaffolds, workers should be protected by safety nets below and adequate railings along side.
Hardhats and strong work boots with good traction are always a must.
If your employer hasn’t provided the proper safety equipment, ask them to do so immediately.
3. Choose The Right Ladder For The Job
Sometimes workers are given the freedom to choose their own equipment. But many accidents happen when workers choose the incorrect ladder for a particular job. You should know the ins and outs of each ladder type before using any.
For example, selecting an unsupported extension ladder for jobs in high-traffic areas might not be the best choice. Unless you tie the ladder off, a careless worker below is likely to knock the ladder’s feet out from under you. Make sure your extension ladder is long enough to extend at least three feet beyond the surface you want to reach. If it’s not long enough, find another one.
Before getting to work, you need to set your ladder up correctly. Take step ladders, for instance. These should never be used in their “closed” position, because they’re far more likely to slip on a surface than an extension ladder.
Know your angle. The base of your ladder should be about one quarter of its length away from the wall.
4. Climb Safely
Once you’ve identified any specific hazards, made sure your safety equipment is in order and selected the appropriate ladder, it’s time to climb.
While most of us know these steps already, it’s always good to refresh the memory before things get dangerous:
- Maintain three points of contact – two hands and a foot, or both feet and a hand at all times.
- Always face the ladder when climbing.
- Keep your body in the middle of the rungs.
- Never stand on the top rung of a ladder.
Once you’re up and working, make sure you know your limits: never overreach, or you’ll knock the ladder off its center of gravity.
New York City Laws Protect Workers
Try as we might to stay safe, accidents do happen. When injuries involve “elevation,” as in the case of ladders and scaffolds, New York State has put stringent laws in place to protect the rights of construction workers.
In fact, New York considers ladder safety so important that property owners and employers can be held to a standard of liability after workers are injured in falls. No other state has a law like our Labor Law 240, which holds employers accountable for accidents that involve faulty ladders, improperly erected scaffolds or a lack of adequate safety equipment.
In some cases, New York’s courts have even held property owners and employers liable for falls without any proof that the ladder in question was faulty. In other words, someone can be legally accountable for your injuries, even if no one did anything explicitly wrong.
Every other state in the nation prohibits all lawsuits against employers. But New York is different.
Contact New York’s Construction Fall Lawyers
Were you injured in a ladder fall on a construction site in New York?
You may deserve significant financial compensation. But New York’s Labor Law 240 is controversial, and you’ll need aggressive legal representation to pursue the justice you deserve.
At Banville Law, that’s all we offer. Over years of proven trial experience, our attorneys have secured more than $25 million for New York workers injured in falls. Now, it’s your turn.
Contact our experienced personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. Call (917) 551-6690 or fill out our contact form to speak with an attorney today. There’s no charge and no obligation, just the answers you need.