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Is following OSHA safety standards for ladders and scaffolds enough to prevent falls?

New York Workers' Compensation

There is a risk that comes with working from heights. Those who work in construction, retail, or other industries where ladders or scaffolds are used are aware of this. Some workers tend to forget about critical safety measures when they become too confident in their ability to work from heights or are in a hurry.

The most common type of workplace accident associated with working from heights is falls. In construction alone, falls account for more than a third of all work fatalities, according to OSHA. In fact, it's classified as the leading cause of construction worker deaths.

Human factors, a leading cause of falls from heights

According to an article in Occupational Health & Safety, following safety standard for ladders and scaffolds set forth by OSHA isn't enough to protect workers from falls. In many cases, falls are caused by human factors, including:

  • Fatigue — Workers who are tired are far more likely to fall than those who are alert and focused.
  • Distraction — Cellphone distractions, multi-tasking, and even conversations between workers can result in falls.
  • Moving too fast — Some workers may bypass safety precautions in order to get a job done faster.
  • Complacency and normalization of risks — Those who work from heights on a regular basis may become desensitized to fall risks or become overconfident.

Deaths caused by falls from heights don't always happen from extreme heights. They can happen at heights as high as 10 feet. Many of them are caused by simple mistakes that wouldn't always result in injury while working on the ground (tripping over feet or losing balance).

About four out of every 10 fall-related deaths on the job happen at heights of 15 feet or less. In fact, most falls happen at heights between 6-10 feet. That's because lower heights are often underestimated. Many workers are under the impression that if they fall, they won't get seriously hurt. This results in workers failing to take safety precautions, such as wearing personal protective equipment.

Employees and supervisors should be trained on the dangers of human factors

Awareness of human factors in falls is key to preventing them. It's up to employers to convey this awareness through training to both employees and supervisors in order to avoid the common risks of complacency and risk desensitization.

For some workers, fatigue may be unavoidable, particularly those with young children. It's critical that supervisors become aware of fatigue risks and employ mitigation methods to promote workplace safety. This may include modifying an employee's work duties.

Lawyers representing injured NY workers

Falls from heights can result in serious injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Paralysis

If you were hurt in a fall on the job, you likely need months, possibly years, of medical treatment and physical therapy. This can get expensive. What's worse, you may not be able to afford to make ends meet while you're out of work.

That's why you have the right to pursue workers' compensation benefits. An experienced New York attorney at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law can help guide you through the process and maximize your chances of being compensated.

To learn more, contact us online to schedule your free consultation. We also offer remote consultations via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, phone, or text for those who can't meet in person.

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