If you work in construction, you already know you're in one of the most dangerous occupations in America. More construction workers die of falls than any other cause. OSHA has clear and extensive rules for fall prevention, but in one major survey of fall related deaths, 49 per cent, less than half of construction employers, had a designated safety officer. Only 58 per cent had a written safety plan. Worse, at the time of their employees' fatal fall, only 38 per cent of employers had written safety rules for the job that the employee was performing. About 20 per cent of fall victims did not have personal protection equipment, PPE, such as safety harnesses and lanyards or guardrails and lifelines available. These are unconscionable lapse on the part of employers, and expose them to lawsuits from injured workers and families of workers killed in falls.
The same survey of fall-related construction deaths found these disturbing numbers: 16.5 per cent of workers suffering fatal falls had PPE available, but were not wearing it at the time of their fall; 17.6 per cent were wearing it but not using it; another 13.2 per cent were using it incorrectly. A total 47.5 per cent of fatal construction falls resulted from failure to use available equipment and use it correctly. These were preventable deaths.
For workers the message is clear: For your own safety and for your family's future, you need to use all the fall prevention equipment provided. OSHA provides clear specs and usage guidelines for all elements of a fall prevention system.
An effective personal fall arrest system will be set up so that a worker's a free fall will be less than six feet, and will not hit any lower level. It must be able to stop the worker's fall and stop deceleration within 3.5 feet. It must limit the arresting force, the forces placed on the body when the fall is stoppe
d, to a maximum of 1800 pounds.
Every time you put on a harness, clip a lifeline, or use a guardrail, you should inspect all the components for wear, fraying, cuts, abrasion, or other indicators that it is could be compromised. You're relying on this equipment to save your life; it's worth your time to check it so you're sure that it can.
After a fall, all parts of the fall prevention system (body harness, lanyard, clips and other attachment hardware), and the anchorage point must immediately be taken out of service until they are inspected by a person competent to evaluate them. Any component that is damaged must be taken out of service and replaced.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious job-site fall, or you have lost a loved one to a job-site fall, and you believe failure to observe safe fall prevention practices contributed to the fall, you may have a claim of workplace negligence against the employer or subcontractor. You should talk with an experienced construction injury lawyer about your situation as soon as possible, while you can still find witnesses and before vital evidence is lost or destroyed. California has statutes of limitations, laws which limit the time period within which you may assert certain claims or file certain lawsuits. If you do not file your claim within the statutory time limit, your right to compensation can be forever lost.
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