Falls on the job account for more than 10,000 deaths and thousands of disabling injuries each year.
Many workers and employers mistakenly assume the hazard of falls is limited to large construction projects for tall buildings. Disabling and even fatal falls frequently occur at heights of 30 feet or less when adequate fall protection equipment is not provided.
Typically, a general contractor at a small construction job holds a brief safety meeting with all of the subcontractors and cautions them to wear their safety belts when working over a height of 10 feet.
Thereafter a worker is told to climb to a couple of stories to make a quick repair. The worker may be provided a simple safety belt which he is supposed to secure once he reaches his work site.
Some safety belts commonly found at construction sites in East Texas re not the state-of-the-art in fall protection. They frequently provide inadequate protection. Moreover, hooking and unhooking them to move from one spot to another makes them impractical to use during the short period of time some jobs require.
As a result, the worker fails to use the safety belt and a tragic fall occurs.
In these situations the injured worker gets blamed although he was just trying to get the job done on time. The general contractor or its insurance company claims that the worker’s failure to wear the safety belt was the sole cause of the fall.
Trained safety experts know that the fault does not rest solely with the injured worker.
There are many different types of fall protection devices for different types of jobs. The contractor responsible for job site safety should have the right type of fall protection equipment available for each job.
The contractor should see that the workers are trained in the use of the equipment and have the time to use it safely.
Our law firm was recently called upon to represent an injured worker who had fallen 30 feet and sustained severe injuries. He was not wearing the safety belt provided to him when he fell.
We established that the safety belt was not adequate and thus generally ignored in the rush to complete the work. Body harnesses such as those depicted below should have been available or safety nets in place.
When everyone was forced to accept responsibility for their role in providing a safe workplace, we were able to recover over $400,000 on behalf of our client.
It would have been better for everyone, however, if time had been spent in advance to select the proper fall protection equipment for the job.