In December, 46-year-old Chris Wayne Hulsey died of injuries sustained in a 16-foot fall from storage tanks he was working on in Cleveland, Georgia. His death marked the fifth similar loss in just four weeks and highlighted what is arguably the most troubling aspect of the construction field.
Other construction fall-related deaths reported to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in the four-week span late last year involved a fall from a former jail undergoing renovation in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; another from a home under construction in Staten Island, New York; and a 28-foot fall from scaffolding onto a concrete pile on a job site in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, these incidents are all too common. In fact, 20 percent of all workplace deaths – one in five – occur in the construction injury and nearly 37 percent of these fatalities are caused by falls, according to OSHA statistics. In 2013 alone, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, falls accounted for 294 of the total 796 construction injury deaths nationwide.
Falls consistently are the lead cause of deaths in the field, followed by collisions with objects, electrocutions and entrapments, which can involve workers being trapped in cave-in trenches or crushed between shifting objects, or body parts being pulled into machinery. To prevent falls and protect workers, employers must provide adequate planning and appropriate equipment for each job, including the right types of ladders, scaffolds and safety gear, such as personal fall arrest systems, harnesses and anchors.
If you are a construction worker being asked to work on sites that lack adequate safety equipment or gear, or if you haven’t received proper training on a task you’ve been assigned, speak up. It’s your right and your employer’s legal responsibility. If you are injured or if you lose a loved one as a result of an employer’s failure to maintain safe working conditions, call 800-251-1111 to speak with an experienced workers compensation attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell today.