Construction workers know their jobs are dangerous. However, they may not realize just how perilous working from heights can be. Falls are the number one cause of deaths on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fatal Four—their list of the leading causes of construction worker fatalities.
To help prevent these deadly accidents, OSHA has developed detailed safety rules for when employers are required to provide fall protection to their workers. Employers should provide these safety measures when:
- Construction crews are working six feet or higher above a lower level.
- Construction crews are working over dangerous equipment, such as machinery with open drive belts, pulleys, or gears, or open vats of degreasing substances or acid.
Common Construction Site Areas Where Fall Protection Is Required
When workers are six feet or higher above a lower level, they must be protected by a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system. Some other areas where fall protection is needed include:
- Leading edges. Leading edges—the unprotected side and edge of a floor, roof, or the formwork for a floor or other working surface like a deck—are especially dangerous for workers.
- Overhang bricklaying. Protection is required when workers perform overhang bricklaying six feet or more above a lower level or are reaching more than ten inches below the level of the walking or working surface they are working from.
- Low-slope roofs. A low-slope roof is one with a slope less than four to twelve (vertical to horizontal). Workers engaged in roofing work that has one or more unprotected sides or edges six feet or more above lower levels can easily fall without fall protection—resulting in life-altering injuries and deaths.
- Steep roofs. A steep roof is one with a slope of more than four to twelve. Because of the steep pitch, steep roofs can be especially deadly for construction workers if fall protection is not provided.
- Residential construction. Residential construction is defined as construction of structures built to be homes and that are constructed using traditional wood frame construction. Fall protection is required for employees working from heights to prevent deadly falls.
- Other walking or working surfaces. An employer is required to utilize fall protection in any other area where construction workers are walking or working six feet or more above a lower level.
When workers fall from heights, they can suffer many serious injuries—such as hip fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain damage, paralysis, and death. However, they may be entitled to compensation from their employers who failed to provide them with a fall protection system that could have prevented their fall.
Were you injured in a fall at your construction job? Was a family member killed? Start an online chat to learn about the compensation you could be entitled to and how our experienced legal team can help you.