Working in the construction industry can be rewarding, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. Even if your employer provided you with safety training, you could still be at risk for injury or even death. Falls account for a significant number of construction injuries, and the problem is not getting any better.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began tracking worker deaths from falls about 30 years ago. In 2017, the BLS reported that falls caused 887 worker deaths. That is the highest number of fall-related deaths since tracking began.
Who is at risk for a fall?
Due to the nature of the job, construction workers face a higher-than-average risk. However, anyone who works in an elevated environment could experience a fall. These environments include:
- Construction sites
- Elevated walkways
Falls do not have to occur from significant heights to be deadly. There are sadly many deaths that occur in the world of residential construction. The number of fatal falls in residential construction actually doubled between the years 2011 and 2015. Knowing this, it might come as no surprise to learn that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that falls are the most common cause of workplace deaths.
Addressing the problem is complicated
Construction slowed down during the recession in the early 2000s. Since then, the construction industry has rapidly picked back up, and there is now a shortage of experienced workers. Employers should be providing detailed safety trainings to these newer workers, but many are not.
This is an especially serious problem among small construction contractors who employ fewer than 10 people. These employers are less likely to provide necessary safety training, which could explain why more than 60 percent of the fall-related deaths in the construction industry occur within these smaller firms. This is a startling figure considering that fewer than 33% of construction workers work at these smaller companies.
What is OSHA doing?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates negligent employers and issues fines as they see necessary. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for OSHA to reduce fines or for companies to get off the hook entirely for small paperwork mistakes. It can be hard to hope for a safer future in construction when employers are not held fully accountable for their actions.
Construction workers in Georgia usually have a lot of pride in the work that they do. Being out of work because of construction injuries can be uncomfortable and upsetting. Workers' compensation can help address some of these feelings by providing necessary compensation for things like lost wages and even medical bills. However, focusing on recovery can be difficult if your workers' comp claim was rejected, so you may want to consider speaking with an experienced attorney about your options for an appeal.