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Georgia Workers at Risk When Fall-Protection Measures Lacking

Construction workers in Georgia face all kinds of potential hazards, and their employers have an important responsibility to ensure those risks are averted through safe operational practices. yellowscaffold.jpg

Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys know that one of the most common – and dangerous – risks is that of a fall. All too often, though, companies fail miserably in this regard, putting their workers at senseless risk.

This happens even when construction firms are well aware of the risks – either because of efforts to cut costs or simple oversight. The outcome may be the same regardless.

Guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration require that any construction worker who has the potential to fall six feet or more has to be protected by some type of equipment – be it a safety net system or a guardrail or a personal fall arrest system.

Construction firms know this. But risks happen anyway.

One instance was recently highlighted by the National Safety Council in a single picture. It had been sent to a company president by a client, who was more concerned about the facade of the structure than anything else. But the company president recognized multiple problems immediately, and forwarded the photo to the firm’s safety director.

Among the issues:

  • One worker in the photo, who is not restrained, is standing on a 20-foot scaffolding. There was also no ladder access or midrails, indicating the scaffolding was clearly not put up or inspected by a competent worker.
  • Another worker in the center of the photo is peering out a gaping opening in the third floor of the structure – his toes actually over the edge while he leans out of the building. The president of the company noted there were no guard rails or any other fall protections in place.
  • A third person is seen being lifted from a forklift onto a pallet to clean excess material on the wall. That third person was not an employee, but the 16-year-old son of the site superintendent, who was operating the forklift.

All of these are egregious violations of OSHA guidelines, and each relate back to a specific fall prevention mishap.

The teenager on the pallet could have been thrown or fallen from the forklift as it extended or moved (not to mention that even legally-employed underage workers are typically barred from such potentially dangerous work). The worker leaning over the edge on the third floor could easily have fallen (he had already successfully sued the company for personal injury after having broken his arm in a previous fall). And the worker on the scaffolding was also at risk for a fall.

Construction workers do have an obligation to abide by company policies and safe work practices on the job site, but employers have to put those policies in place, provide the proper training and ensure those guidelines are followed to the letter.

You can learn more about federal regulation with regard to fall prevention measures by visiting the CDC’s website.
In this particular case, the superintendent hadn’t received the proper training, as required by OSHA
If you have been injured on the job in Georgia, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C. today at 1-404-303-7770.

Additional Resources:
Lack of Fall Protection Measures Place Workers at Increased Risk, Oct. 2012, National Safety Council
More Blog Entries:
Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments a Top Cause of Workplace Injuries in 2011, Dec. 29, 2012, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog