The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) works to save workers lives throughout New York by fining employers who fail to comply with workplace safety standards. OSHA cites any employer who fails to comply with safety requirements, but one of the top problems that lead to OSHA citations is a failure to provide adequate fall protection.
OSHA reports that one company in New York was fined a total of $159,250 recently for failures when it came to protecting workers from falling as they performed work on roofing projects. Our Manhattan work injury attorneys know this employer was just one of many in New York who fail to embrace solutions that would limit or prevent falls in the workplace.
Falls Are a Common & Dangerous Workplace Accident
OSHA indicates that the New York roofing contractor was assessed a large fine for the lack of fall protection in part because the offense was a repeated violation. The employer knowingly chose not to take steps to protect workers.
Unfortunately, this company is not the only one that fails when it comes to falls. In fact, OSHA officials indicate that falls are the number one killer of construction workers and that many construction sites provide either no fall protection or inadequate fall protection.
The absence of fall protection contributes to the high number of deaths. In 2010 alone, OSHA reported that there were 264 fall fatalities out of a total of 774 total deaths nationwide on construction sites. A total of 255 of the fatal falls were falls to a lower level. All of the falls were preventable.
OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign
With falls as the leading cause of death on construction sites, OSHA has launched a nationwide outreach campaign called Stop Falls in order to raise awareness of the hazards of falls from roofs, scaffolds and ladders.
The campaign focuses on the three steps necessary to prevent falls:
- Planning: Deciding in advance how a job performed up high must be done. Employers and workers must estimate what safety equipment is necessary in order to complete each task and employers should be sure to factor in the cost of equipment when bidding for a job.
- Providing: Providing means that employers have to provide safety gear, as well as the right types of ladders and equipment when a worker is working six feet or more up in the air.
- Training: Safety equipment is only effective if it is used properly. Employers must train workers on how to recognize hazards and on how to use the equipment they need to do their jobs in a safe and effective manner. This means training workers on fall protection systems as well as the use of scaffolds and ladders.
An employer needs to take responsibility for preventing falls in every situation since an employer will be the one held responsible if a worker gets hurt. This is true regardless of whether an employer was negligent or whether an employee was at fault.
Workers cannot generally sue employers, but they can make workers compensation claims and negligence doesn't matter in these cases. A worker can be entitled to workers compensation benefits, including payment of medical bills, under any circumstances where his injury arose from a fall at work.
New York also has special scaffolding laws imposing strict liability on property owners and/or project managers in certain cases when scaffolding injuries occur. It is important for workers to understand their rights in scaffolding accidents and when other fall accidents occur.
If you've been hurt at work, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today for a free evaluation by calling (800) 692-3717.