Recently, a West Palm Beach worker sustained life-threatening injuries when he fell 30 feet from a business rooftop onto asphalt. The worker was taken to a local medical center as a trauma patient and investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were called in to investigate the accident and determine how it occurred.
Unfortunately, West Palm Beach workplace falls are very common injuries that often require the assistance of an experienced West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorney.
According to OSHA statistics, over 4,500 workers were killed on the job in 2012, the most current data available. This averages to almost 90 workers a week or more than 12 worker deaths every day. The death rates for Latino workers were notably high, with more than 14 deaths occurring per week or two Latino workers killed every single day of the year, all year long.
Construction Workers Frequently Suffer Workplace Falls
One of the most dangerous industries is the construction industry. In 2012, almost 20 percent of all worker fatalities in private industry occurred in construction. Of the various accident causes, falls accounted for the greatest number of worker fatalities (almost 35 percent) and far outnumbered the other most common causes (which were being struck by an object, being electrocuted, and being caught in or between an object).
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Safeguarding Workers From Falls
OSHA regulations require that employers set up workplaces to prevent employees from falling off overhead platforms, elevated work stations, into holes, and off other hazardous work areas. These workplace protections require that fall protection be provide at the following elevations:
– Four feet in general industry workplaces;
– Five feet in shipyards;
– Six feet in the construction industry;
– Eight feet in long shoring operations; and
– At all times when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of distance.
Under OSHA’s standards, employers can select the type of fall protection that is appropriate for the type of work being performed. Forms of protection can include;
– Guard rails;
– Safety nets;
– Personal fall arrest systems;
– Positioning device systems;
– Warning line systems;
– Fences; and
Controlled Access Zones
Sometimes work needs to take place without the use of conventional fall protection systems. When this is necessary, employers can establish controlled access zones, which are used to keep out workers other than those specifically authorized to enter the area.
Controlled access zones are defined by a control line or other barriers that restrict access. They can consist of stanchions connected by ropes, wires, tapes or equivalent materials. They must be:
– Flagged or otherwise clearly marked at 6 foot maximum intervals with highly visible material;
– Rigged and supported so that the lowest sagging point is no lower than 39 inches and no higher than 45 inches from the ground;
– Strong enough to sustain stress of not less than 200 pounds; and
– Connected on each side to a guardrail system or wall
When control lines are used, they must be no closer than 6 feet to the unprotected or leading edge of the building or structure and no more than 25 feet away from the building or structure edge.
Workplace And Workers’ Compensation Help
For workers who believe their workplace is unsafe or believe there are OSHA violations at their workplace, OSHA provides a toll-free number (1-800-321-OSHA).
At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., our workers’ compensation attorneys have substantial experience with accidents involving falls and lack of fall protection. If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one and need workers’ compensation help to obtain the benefits you deserve, contact us today online or at 561-687-5660 for a free initial consultation.