Construction sites can be cluttered, busy, and have lots of potential dangers for workers. Slip and fall accidents are common causes of injuries at construction sites. According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) slip and fall accidents account for about a third of all reported worker injuries at construction sites. They also account for about 40 percent of construction site fatalities.
OSHA says 320 construction workers died from injuries suffered in slip and fall accidents in 2018, or nearly one death every day.
OSHA says construction workers who suffer injuries from slip and fall accidents miss more work than when hurt by other injury accidents. The average slip and fall accident causes a construction worker to miss 50 percent more time from work than other workplace accident injuries.
Two Types of Construction Site Slip and Fall Accidents
The nature of construction work creates two general types of slip and fall accidents at construction sites: “same-level falls” and “falling to a lower level.”
Falling on the same level commonly occurs outside of construction worksites as well as within them. If you ever slipped and fell while shopping in a grocery store or while trying to negotiate an icy section of a walkway, that is a same-level fall.
Many construction sites also experience falls from one level to another. Falling to a lower level can be much more dangerous than a same-level fall. It happens often when workers are elevated on scaffolding to accomplish their jobs.
Same-level falls could result in serious injuries, including death. Falling to a lower level increases the chances of suffering catastrophic injuries and death.
How Slip and Fall Accidents Commonly Happen at Construction Sites
The potential exposure to weather, scattered equipment, and debris makes workers at construction sites especially vulnerable to slip and fall accidents. The higher up the slip occurs, the more injurious the fall could become.
Fortunately, it is possible to identify and correct common sources of slip and fall accidents at construction sites. Among conditions that commonly cause the accidents are:
- Damaged or broken handrails
- Exposed electrical cords and wiring
- Lack of safety equipment and training
- Uneven surfaces
- Wet and slippery surfaces
Electrical cords and exposed electrical wiring pose a constant danger of slipping or tripping that leads to falling. Many construction tools require electricity or lighting to use. So electrical cords and wiring are ever-present and readily capable of causing a slip and fall accident.
Workers who use scaffolding might lose their balance when a handrail or a poorly-secured plank becomes unstable. An uneven surface on scaffolding, the ground, or inside the structure that is under construction could cause a slip and fall accident.
The exposure to weather and the potential for liquid spills also could increase the risk of slipping and falling. So could improper use of safety equipment that is designed to protect workers against falls and other mishaps while working. Thorough training and checking on workers will help to ensure they use safety equipment properly.
How to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents at Construction Sites
It is very important to be proactive at addressing possible workplace dangers. Regular inspection of the worksite can help to identify debris, loose handrails, and other common causes of slip and fall accidents at construction sites.
It is important to ensure that workers are wearing work boots that enable better traction. It also is important to provide them with safety equipment and training in proper use to reduce the possibility of injuries due to slip and fall accidents.
Workers should have access to ice melt, sand, or kitty litter that they can scatter onto icy or slippery walkways to improve traction and safety.
Scaffolding should undergo a thorough inspection prior to the start of each work shift. Regular inspection can identify loose handrails or planks that could cause a worker to slip, trip, or fall from the scaffolding or other platforms.
If the worksite has multiple floors, workers might use lifts to get up and down. It is very important to ensure only workers who know how to operate a lift have access to the controls. Workers who do not know how to operate them are more prone to making errors that cause someone to fall.
Whenever workers have to work up high, they should have safety harnesses that they use and prevent them from falling to the ground. Those safety harnesses will not work if the workers do not know how to use them. Training is what makes them effective.
Training and simple observation are the two best tools for reducing slip and fall injuries at construction worksites. Workers should be trained in proper safety procedures and continually reminded to ensure a high rate of compliance.
Workers also can be trained to take a few minutes to investigate their respective work areas. If anything is amiss, it should be addressed right away. That will help to reduce the work hazards that could cause slip and fall accidents and other mishaps while on the job.
Workers’ Compensation for Construction Site Slip and Fall Accidents
If you suffer an injury due to a slip and fall or other accident while working at a construction site, Workers’ Compensation insurance should cover your medical costs and time away from work if you miss more than three days.
With slip and fall accidents so common at construction job sites, filing a claim should be relatively easy, but it always helps to immediately notify your supervisor either before or just after obtaining medical treatment. Your employer or the insurer might try to deny your claim in part or in whole. If so, an experienced construction accident lawyer can help you to build and file a strong claim for benefits. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, your attorney could help you to hold your employer and Workers’ Compensation insurer accountable for your injuries and damages.
Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow
If you suffered an injury while working at a construction site but your Workers’ Compensation claim was denied, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. You can call us (302) 427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.