OSHA calls for better fall protection at construction sites

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently held a nationwide "safety stand-down" to raise awareness about fall hazards and prevention at construction sites. Falls are the leading cause of death in the U.S. construction industry and are responsible for more than one-third of all fatal construction site injuries, according to an OSHA news release.

More than 800 construction workers were killed by on-the-job injuries in 2012, OSHA reported, and nearly 300 of those deaths involved falls. Another 8,000 workers suffered non-fatal injuries due to falls that year, making fall prevention an important safety issue for workers and employees nationwide.

The federal safety agency recommends a number of measures to help prevent falls at construction sites, noting that fall prevention makes financial sense in addition to improving safety. The average fall-related injury in the construction industry can cost an employer about $100,000 in workers' compensation expenses.

To protect workers from fall-related injuries and deaths, OSHA recommends that employers plan ahead and have the right equipment on hand for the type of work being done. Depending on the circumstances, this may involve installing guardrails or using harnesses for workers. In addition, OSHA stressed the importance of educating workers about fall prevention. The agency encourages employers to use illustrations and plain workers to communicate clearly and effectively about safety regulations.

Washington workers' compensation basics

Construction companies and other employers in Washington are required to insure workers against on-the-job injuries, either through self insurance or third-party policies. When a worker is hurt by a fall or other work-related injury in Washington, he or she may be entitled to a wide range of benefits. Depending on the circumstances, these may include:

  • Medical costs
  • Disability income (wage replacement)
  • Vocational assistance
  • Partial disability (loss of body functions)
  • Disability pension

In addition, when a worker dies as a result of a job-related injury or illness in Washington, certain surviving members of his or her family may be entitled to death benefits.

Talk to a lawyer if injured on the job in Washington

To help secure the maximum benefit amount that you and your family are entitled to after a work-related injury in Washington, it is a good idea to seek advice from an experienced workers' compensation lawyer. He or she can review the details of your case and work with you to prepare all the necessary documentation for your application to ensure that it is accurate and complete. In the event that your claim is denied, your lawyer can also guide you through the process of filing an appeal.