Last month, our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers discussed the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on occupational injuries in 2011. As we discussed, the BLS data showed that about 5,000 workers were killed and another 3 million injured on the job in 2011. These workers experienced many different types of accidents that caused them to suffer workplace injury.
One of the most common injuries, however, was workplace falls.
Workplace falls can occur "on the same level," which means that a worker trips or slips and injures himself. Workplace falls can also occur when a worker falls off of something or down into something, such as falling off of a scaffold or falling into a hole. Any type of workplace fall is dangerous and can cause serious injury or even death. As such, we urge all workers and employers to follow some basic safety precautions to minimize the risk of a fall.
Understanding The Dangers of Falls in the Workplace
Falls in the workplace happen far too often and present some serious risks. According to the 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics data on fatal occupational injuries, falls were responsible for 666 workplace deaths over the course of the year. Of these deaths:
- 541 occurred when a worker fell to a lower level.
- 38 occurred when a worker fell from equipment or from a structure that collapsed.
- 60 occurred when a worker fell through an opening or surface.
- 108 occurred when the worker fell from the same level.
Altogether, the 666 fall deaths in 2011 accounted for 14 percent of all workplace fatalities that occurred over the course of the year.
Staying Safe From Falls
Falls not only cause fatalities but they can also cause serious injury that puts a worker out of commission temporarily or permanently. Preventing falls should be a top priority for employers and employees and there are a few simple steps that should be taken in order to minimize the risk of a fall occurring:
- Follow all OSHA guidelines on scaffolding and working from high heights. These guidelines include details on weight limits, scaffold construction and other protective measures designed to make sure that workers do not fall off the scaffold and that the scaffolding does not collapse.
- Ensure that all slippery or wet surfaces are cleaned up immediately or properly marked to indicate that they are slippery when they cannot be fixed.
- Remove debris and clutter from the workplace that a worker could trip over. A clean workplace that is in good order reduces the risk of falls.
- Avoid setting up a situation where workers have to strain to reach. If items must be kept on high shelves or in elevated locations, provide appropriate assistance to reach high items.
- Use appropriate fall protection gear as required by OSHA when working at high heights.
If both workers and employers comply with all safety guidelines, exercise reasonable care and are cautious in environments where a fall is most likely to occur, hopefully the chance of an injury or death due to a fall will be reduced and workers will be able to stay safe on the job site.