There is a lot of construction work happening around Oklahoma City. Therefore, it is not unusual to see construction workers working on tall buildings, small businesses, and homes of all sizes throughout various neighborhoods. However, due to the nature of this type of work, one of the most common risks that construction workers face every day is dangerous and deadly falls.
This is typically because these workers work around heavy machinery, sharp tools, and carry out their tasks at elevated levels, but it is important to remember that falls from both high and low heights can lead to serious and life-threatening injuries. Here are the eight leading causes of deadly construction site falls.
1. Defective scaffolding
Many people have walked underneath, near, or around scaffolding and may not know what exactly it is. Scaffolds are a type of structure that is made of wood planks and metal that provides construction workers with support while they work on a building or home. The scaffolding allows them to sit or stand on the wooden planks, which is necessary when the work they are doing is several stories above the ground. However, if scaffolding is defective, unstable, or improperly installed, construction workers may fall and become seriously injured.
2. Unstable ladders
Ladders are one of the most frequently used items at any type of construction site. For that reason, ladders are known to be moved around quite a bit during each shift. If a construction worker gets on a ladder without making sure it is in place and secure, the ladder may shift and tip over, causing a dangerous fall. Employers and companies should ensure that their employees are properly trained and educated on how to use a ladder. Without this knowledge, they may fail to make sure that the ladder is in the correct position each time before climbing on it.
3. Increasing wind speeds
Something that many people do not think much about that construction workers have to deal with several times a week is the wind. While they may notice that it is a windy day from the ground, it is always much windier the higher up you go. This is because wind speed becomes faster based on the altitude level. Therefore, if it is an extremely windy day, construction workers may find it difficult to keep their ladders, tools, or even their own selves stable, which may lead to deadly falls.
When working at a construction site, it is normal to see exposed openings, holes, and edges. This is because the work is still in process. However, most construction workers are trained on how to install and use guardrails or safety nets to prevent falls from happening around these openings, holes, and edges. By choosing not to take preventative measures, there is a high possibility that someone may fall through the holes and openings or even go over the edge and fall off the entire structure.
5. Trips and slips
Trips and slips happen frequently at construction sites. This is typically because the site becomes very busy, and workers often leave their materials and tools spread out on the ground. Therefore, if a construction worker is not paying close attention to where they are walking or moving, they may trip and fall. In addition, when construction workers are working outside, the weather may make things slippery. For example, if it snows, sleets, or even rains, the surface they are working on may become wet or icy, leading to slips and falls, which could be traumatic when sharp tools and objects are nearby.
6. Improper or inadequate protective equipment
One of the big reasons why deadly construction site falls occur is because construction workers do not have the proper or adequate protective equipment. There is certain equipment that employers are required to provide to their employees to protect them from falls. This may include harnesses, guardrails, nets, and more. If the construction worker does not have this equipment or chooses to not use it, they are at risk of plummeting to their deaths.
7. Lack of training
Another common cause for deadly falls among construction workers is the lack of training provided by employers. Construction workers are known to work in hazardous conditions, such as on the side of high-rise buildings, in areas with a lot of electrical wires, on deteriorating roofs, and in locations with flying debris. Therefore, if they are not properly trained and educated on how to use their protective equipment, how to work at great heights, or how to reduce and prevent falls, there is a good chance that they may experience a traumatic and devastating fall.
Are construction site falls really that common?
Unfortunately, construction site falls are very common. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that “construction deaths due to falls, slips, and trips increased 5.9 percent in 2021.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recorded close to 400 construction fatalities due to falls, which was more than one-third of all construction deaths that year. To make these alarming statistics even worse, the construction industry made up almost half of all fatal slips, trips, and falls in 2021.
If you or a family member suffer severe injuries due to a fall while doing construction work, the Oklahoma City construction accident attorneys at Cunningham & Mears are here to assist you. Our team has built a strong reputation based on hard work, trustworthiness, compassion, and understanding, and we are more than happy to represent any client who walks through our doors. If you are ready to begin discussing your claim, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We will look over the facts of your case, give you advice on what you should do, and fight for the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries and losses.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More