The insurance company Nationwide, analyzing the more than 10,000 workers’ compensation claims that it processed in the previous five years, found that 30% involved falls in construction. Construction workers in Illinois should know how they can stay safe when on elevated surfaces. If they do not stay safe or if their employer neglects their safety, the resulting fall may leave them with serious injuries and perhaps a disability.
First of all, construction site owners could start by supporting Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, a nationwide campaign started by OSHA. They could host a “stand-down” where they can converse with their employees about any safety hazards they have encountered and raise awareness of other hazards they may have missed.
Nationwide recommends that construction sites have a written policy that minimizes the use of ladders, which are linked to an overwhelming number of fall incidents. Employers should train workers on the proper use and inspection of scaffolding and mobile lifts. All elevated work platforms should come with guardrails, and workers must be equipped with harnesses and other protective gear.
Material-handling aids are essential when lifting up materials to these elevated platforms. Such aids can range from ropes and pulleys to a block-and-tackle pulley system. Also, employees should opt for podium stepladders over A-frame ladders.
Under workers’ compensation law, injured construction employees can be covered for their medical expenses and for a portion of the income they lost during their time of recovery. If they suffered a disability, they may receive some reimbursement for this as well. They must show that their injuries were indeed work-related, and though the question of negligence does not necessarily enter into every claim, they may need to defend themselves in an appeal. It may be best, then, for victims to hire a lawyer.