Construction workers not only face serious dangers from falling, but also from falling objects hitting them. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), being struck by objects was the second leading cause of death in 2013, causing 10 percent of construction worker deaths. When employees work below scaffolding, cranes, and other construction work being done from heights, they can be struck by power tools, materials, and equipment that fall and can suffer serious injuries—like brain damage, spinal injuries, and blindness.
Five OSHA Safety Practices That Would Prevent Falling Object Accidents
If employers followed OSHA’s safety regulations, many construction worker injuries and deaths from falling objects could be avoided. Safety guidelines that should be utilized include:
- Guardrails. When guardrails are used to prevent objects from falling, any opening must be small enough to stop objects from getting through the opening.
- Overhang bricklaying. No materials and equipment other than masonry or mortar should be stored within four feet of working edges when overhang bricklaying work is being performed. Excess mortar, bricks, and other materials must be removed from the working site regularly.
- Roofing work. When workers are working on a roof, all materials must be stored at least six feet from any roof edge unless there is a guardrail. Any materials that are stacked near a roof edge must be secure and stable.
- Toeboards. Toeboards are long pieces of wood nailed horizontally on a roof. When they are used to protect against falling objects, they must be erected along the edges of the overhead surface for a sufficient distance to protect workers below. They must also comply with OSHA’s weight and height requirements.
- Canopies. Canopies used to prevent objects from falling must be strong enough to not collapse and to prevent objects that fall onto them from going through the canopy.
While no safety system can prevent all accidents, these measures would go a long way towards keeping construction workers safe from workplace injuries. However, until employers take worker safety more seriously, construction workers hurt on the job must seek compensation from their employers either under workers’ compensation if the employer provides it or under non-subscriber employee rights for those whose employers have opted out of workers’ comp.
If you were injured in a construction work accident, call our experienced legal team at (817) 380-4888 to learn about the compensation you could be entitled to and how we can help you.