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Keeping construction workers safe from fall-related hazards

In New Jersey and across the U.S., many construction site owners are failing to raise awareness of fall-related hazards and provide adequate training to employees. The results are injuries that leave victims with short- or long-term disabilities and that cost employers a great deal of time and productivity. Falls from elevated surfaces account for more than 30% of workers’ compensation claims that are paid out to construction workers.

OSHA has a nationwide campaign called the Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, and it encourages employers to hold a safety stand-down of their own. During a stand-down, all work is suspended so that employees can, together with their employer, focus on safety issues. A safety assessment could be performed, and new training initiatives could be established.

Training must cover what workers do on ladders and on elevated platforms like mobile scaffolding and scissor lifts. Workers must be taught to avoid A-frame ladders when possible, opting instead for the generally safer podium stepladders. They should know how to use work platforms and inspect them before the start of each day.

Work platforms should be equipped with guardrails, and employees themselves should be given protective gear. When it comes to lifting materials up to these platforms, there should be a rope-and-pulley or block-and-tackle system in place.

Under workers’ compensation law, those who suffer an injury on the job can receive benefits that cover all medical expenses and at least a percentage of the income they lost during their recovery. Benefits are not guaranteed as employers may deny payment for the reason that victims were to blame for their own injuries. Because of this, victims may think twice about filing their claim without legal advice and guidance. An attorney may be helpful, especially when mounting an appeal.

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