Houston Fall Protection Lawyer
Failure to Provide Adequate Fall Protection for Workers on Construction Sites, Buildings, Lifts and Other Heights
According to the US Department of Labor, falls on job sites are one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death. Falls account for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. On the bright side, employers are getting better at recognizing this risk and accounting for it. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fatal falls were down 25 percent from what they were in 2007. Additionally, fatal falls in the private construction industry decreased by 42 percent between 2007 and 2010.
Unfortunately, despite strict regulation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), several hundred falls still occur on constructions sites every year in the United States. Under OSHA rules, fall protection is required for height differences of only four feet in general industry, six feet on construction sites and five feet under maritime law.
Texas workers are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or even killed in on the job accidents because of our expansive oil and gas and petrochemical industry. Accidents such as these not only harm the individual, but can also cause long term emotional and financial hardships which can affect an entire family. Therefore, it is crucial that you have powerful, experienced and reliable representation by a fall protection lawyer if you and your family are facing such a difficult situation. We are committed to serving all of the interrelated needs of our clients when they are dealing with the aftermath of an injury at work.
Duty to Provide Fall Protection – OSHA
OSHA requires employers to assess the workplace to determine if the walking/working surfaces on which employees are to work have the strength and structural integrity to safely support workers. Employees should not be permitted to work on those surfaces until it has been determined that the surfaces have the requisite strength and structural integrity to support the workers. Once employers have determined that the surface is safe for employees to work on, the employer must provide the appropriate type of fall protection if a fall hazard is present.
In some situations, OSHA specifically details what type of protection must be provided by the employer. In other situations, the regulations require fall protection but leave the type of protection to be used up to the employer. This is because there are several fall protection options that may work better depending on the specific situation.
Acceptable types of fall protection may include:
- a safety net system
- barricades or barriers
- a personal fall arrest system
- lanyards and harnesses
- warning signs
- self retracting lifelines
- aerial lifts and/or buckets
- anchors, braces and tie-offs
- roof walks
- skylight guards
- safety gates
In addition to providing employees with the right safety equipment for the job, employers have a duty to provide training to the employee on the proper use of the equipment. Visit our failure to properly train page for more details on this type of injury.
Inspection and Testing of Safety Systems to Prevent Falls
Just providing a safety system is not enough. Fall protection equipment does not last forever. In jobs where fall protection is required, it is critical that the equipment be inspected and tested regularly to ensure that it has not worn out or been misused. Worn our belts and straps (as seen in the photo to the left) can result in a safety system failure. Obviously, safety equipment failure can have tragic consequences.
All approved safety equipment should have instructions accompanying it regarding the proper use and life span of the equipment. Failure to follow these instructions by the employer is negligence. If the equipment you have been provided does not have these instructions, don’t use it.
It is also crucial that your employer have in place a regular inspection schedule and set of rules to make sure the equipment is in good working order. Training to make sure the safety harnesses and devices are properly attached and used is also a must. If your employer fails to provide training and require safety equipment inspections, he is not providing you with a safe workplace.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a fall on a job site or construction site, call us to speak to a Houston fall protection attorney today.