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NIOSH fact sheet addresses construction worker fall risks

According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls claim the lives of more than 300 construction workers each year in Pennsylvania and around the country and are the leading cause of death in the industry. As part of an effort to reduce this number, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released a fact sheet that contains tips on how to prevent falls at construction sites and avoid serious injuries when they do occur.

The NIOSH fact sheet stresses the importance of providing construction workers with comprehensive safety training that includes tips on avoiding falls. It also reminds construction companies to maintain ladders and scaffolding regularly and issue their workers with fall-related safety equipment such as harnesses. Other tips to prevent falls from scaffolds, 86 percent of which occur at construction sites, include ensuring that the equipment used meets standards laid down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is set up by qualified and experienced technicians.

Many of the more than 10,000 construction workers are seriously injured in falls each year, and many of them were on ladders when they fell. The NIOSH fact sheet advises construction workers to not overload ladders and only climb them when they are placed on flat and level ground. Workers should also make sure that they maintain more than two points of contact when climbing or descending ladders.

Construction workers who are injured in on-the-job accidents may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. However, the application process can be daunting for those unfamiliar with official forms and bureaucratic red tape. Attorneys with experience in this area might help injured workers with their application paperwork and ensure that it is properly supported with medical evidence. Attorneys may also initiate personal injury lawsuits on behalf of injured workers when their injuries were caused by acts of gross negligence by their employers.

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